Monthly Quick Grammar Review

This is my first grammar post at My Spanish Word of the Day.  Every month, I would like to give you a quick and easy grammar lesson/review.  I am starting with adjectives.

Spanish adjectives agree in gender and number with the nouns they modify.   Descriptive adjectives follow the nouns that they modify.  They can also come after the verb be.

Gender

Adjectives ending in o in the masculine change to a in the feminine.

Mi condominio está en un edificio alto.  (My condo is in a tall building.)  Condominio is a masculine noun, therefore, the adjective that modifies it, alto, must also be masculine.

La chica alta se llama Luz.  (The tall girl’s name is Luz.)  Chica is a feminine noun, so the noun that modifies it, alta, must also be feminine.

Adjectives ending in any other letter have the same form whether they are modifying masculine or feminine nouns.

Javier es un hombre cortés.  (Javier is a courteous man.)  Hombre is a masculine noun.

Pilar es una mujer cortés.  (Pilar is a courteous woman.)  Mujer is a feminine noun.

But, there are always exceptions to the rules!  There are 2 exceptions to this rule.

  • Adjectives of nationality that end in a consonant add a to the end of the masculine in order to form the feminine.

                Carlos es español y Carmen es española también.  (Carlos is Spanish and Carmen is Spanish too.)

  • Adjectives ending in án, ín, ón, and or also add a to create the feminine form.  The stressed vowels (the ones with the accent marks) do not use the accent mark when an a is added to the end of the word.  In the example below, holgazana does not have an accent mark.

                     Ese hombre es hogazán.  Esta mujer no es holgazana. (That man is lazy.  This woman is not lazy.)

Words that end in or do not usually have an accent mark, so you don’t have to worry about it when you form the feminine.

        Roberto no es hablador.  Teresa es habladora.  (Robert is not talkative.  Teresa is talkative.)

   

Number

Adjectives ending in a vowel add s to form the plural.

                         masculine                                                                         feminine

 un edificio alto           dos edificios altos                          una chica alta              dos chicas altas

Adjectives that end in a consonant add es to form the plural.

Notice how es is added to the adjective difícil (difficult) in order to express two difficult exams (masculine plural) and two difficult questions (feminine plural).

                         masculine                                                                     feminine

un examen difícil   dos exámenes difíciles            una pregunta difícil   dos preguntas difíciles

If an adjective ends in z, the z changes to c before adding es.  

Bailes  (dances) is a masculine plural noun and ciudades (cities) is a feminine plural noun.  Below you can see how the adjective andaluz (Andalusian) changes in the plural form.

                          masculine                                                                       feminine

un baile andaluz   dos bailes andaluces                 una ciudad andaluz   dos ciudades andaluces

If an adjective modifies tow nouns of different genders, it is generally masculine plural.  In the example below Carlos is a masculine noun and Carmen is a feminine noun.

Carlos y Carmen son españoles.

Well, that is quite enough about adjectives today.  There are a lot more grammar rules concerning adjectives.  We’ll review some more of them in a future Monthly Quick Grammar Review post.

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