Adjectives and Adverbs in Spanish

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This section looks at ways to add detail, interest and variety to what you want to say.

Adjectives ‘add’ to nouns, adverbs to verbs, comparatives help compare and superlatives highlight the biggest, smallest, best and worst, the most and the least, so help us talk about extremes.

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Adding detail

Adverbs and adjectives present opportunities for you to make your writing and indeed any conversation both more informative and more interesting: distinguishing for example between how quickly or easily something is achieved; and providing opportunity to compare objects, ideas and activities. This ability to expand descriptions and analysis is just as important in Spanish and in English.


Adjectives need to ‘agree’ with the noun in terms of gender and number, i.e. male, female, singular or plural, with a few exceptions where they stay the same. 

The position of adjectives in the sentence can also be important to their meaning, for example use of the word grande to mean ‘big’ or ‘large’ when after the noun, but ‘great’ when placed before (in this case changing to gran before a masculine singular noun). Also, certain adjectives go before the noun to which they refer, but apart from these exceptions Spanish adjectives generally go after the noun.

The best advice to become familiar with how these words are used is to read widely and practice in how to use them, but you’ll find a few examples cropping up throughout this guide in various sections.  Make your own list of useful adjectives too!

Opposites and agreement

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In the following examples some (ending o/a) change endings to ‘agree’ in gender and number (~o/~os for masculine, ~a/~as for feminine), while others stay the same regardless of gender, such as facil, dificil, tarde. Even these agree when it comes to plurals, adding ~es or ~s respectively.

  • big /large – grande
    • gran before = great
    • gran edificio
  • easy facil
  • soft blando/a
  • smooth suave
    • also means soft (light)
  • left izquierdo/a
  • good bueno/a
    • buen before m. sing.
  • early temprano/a

Shortening adjectives and numbers before nouns (or *masculine singular nouns only :

  • 1* – uno … un hombre / un perro
  • 100 – ciento … cien hombres
  • any – cualqiera … cualquier sitio
  • any* – alguno … algun razón
  • no/none – ninguno … ningun papel
  • 1st* – primero … primer estudiante
  • 3rd – tercero … tercer edificio
  • good* – bueno … buen razón
  • bad* – malo … mal perro
  • great – grande … Gran Bretaña
  • small / little – pequeño/a
    • pequeñito/a = tiny
    • ~ito/a makes it smaller
  • difficult/hard – dificil
  • hard (not soft) – duro/a
  • rough áspero (surface)
    • quebrado (terrain)
  • right derecho/a
  • bad – malo/a
    • also means ‘false’
  • late – tarde

Changing meanings with position. Some other adjectives, like grande, can change subtly before a noun:

  • pobre – ‘poor’ (lacking money) after the noun; ‘poor’ as in unfortunate if used before the noun
  • mismo – ‘the same’ after, but ‘itself, himself or herself’ before,
    • el mismo profesor – the teacher himself ; el profesor mismo – the same teacher
    • al mismo momento – at the very same moment

Adjectives which always go before the noun are: alguno and ninguno (any and none), todo (all), cuanto (how much), tanto, (so much), mucho and poco  (a lot and a little), bastante (enough / quite), demasiado (too much).

Otro (another/other), tal (such), cada  (each/every) also always go before the noun and don’t vary with gender. After otro or tal you never use an indefinite article – e.g. ‘another suitcase’ is simply otro maleta  – similarly to the English, where you would never say ‘another a suitcase’!


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Adverbs, used to describe or qualify verbs, are often formed by taking the appropriate adjective, e.g. ‘easy’ or ‘confident’ and adding an ending, as in the English ‘easily’ and ‘confidently’.  The Spanish ending you’ll come across most is –mente and this is generally added to the feminine form of the adjectiveFácil  is  one of the Spanish adjectives which does not change with gender, so is fairly straightforward  – changing to fácilmente. The example of ‘confident’ however presents a challenge as ‘confident’ translates as confiado in terms of how someone behaves, whilst ‘confidently’ translates as decididamente , closer to the English decisively.  In other cases a better translation may be a short phrase, such as sin duda alguna which is ‘absolutely’ or ‘without doubt’ , where ‘absolute’ is absoluto/a.  So be careful creating your own adverbs.

Useful adverbs include the following:

  • Well  – bien
  • Badly/poorly – mal
  • Easily – fácilmente
  • ‘With difficulty’ – difícilmente
  • Frequently – frecuentemente
  • Rarely – raras veces  note the phrase, ‘few times’
  • Scientifically – científicamente

Adverbs of Time and Consequence

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  • then (at that time) – entonces : Yo estudiaba entonces en Francia
  • then (so, therefore) – entonces : No hay bicicletas, entonces vamos a andar.
  • then – luego : Trabajo por la semana, y luego hay el fin de semana
  • so (thus, as a result) : Hay mucha gente aqui, asi la calle es muy concurrida
  • already – ya : Ya ha terminado el examen
  • yet – ya : ¿Ya han terminado el examen?
  • No longer – ya : Ya no juego el deporte­ – I no longer play sport
  • Now (at last) – ya :  Ya lo comprendo – I understand it now
  • Now (at this time) – ahora : Voy a estudiar ahora – I’m going to study now.

Comparatives and Superlatives

Comparatives allow distinction to be made between objects or actions: such as bigger, easier, further or more, less or equal; while Superlatives are adverbs or adjectives which show this in the extreme – e.g. biggest, easiest, furthest, most. Words useful for comparing or identifying extremes like this are outlined below, and you are advised to note particularly useful or relevant ones as you come across them.  

The use of very as a form of comparison is quite straightforward, adding muy before the adjective, e.g. muy rápido – very fast.

Superlatives are formed by el/la/los/las + más and the adjective, so ‘those men are the strongest’ translates as esos hombres son los mas Fuertes.  Further examples are given along with the relevant comparatives below.

Much translates as mucho, which also means ‘many’ , and muchísimo is used for ‘very much’ or ‘extremely’.  When used for comparison, the word ‘more’ is más, and similarly while ‘little’ is pocoand ‘few’ is pocos ,  ‘less’is menos

‘More … than’ translates as más … que  and  ‘less than’ is menos … que . These, along with the superlatives are shown in the following examples, which illustrate the irregular variations from the general rule: 

  • Strong      fuerte         Stronger  más fuerte  
  • Strongest   el/la más fuerte ; los/las más fuertes
  • Big           grande           Bigger  más grande
  • Biggest     la más grande;    los países más grandes
  • Small        pequeño/a   Smaller más pequeño
  • Smallest    la más pequeña / el más pequeño / las más pequeñas / los más pequeños
  • Good (adj)      bueno/a                      
  • Better  mejor               
  • The best    el/la mejor / los/las mejores
  • Well  (adv)        bien                
  • Better  mejor              
  • The best    el/la mejor / los/las mejores
  • Bad  (adj)        malo               
  • Worse  peor                
  • The worst  el/la peor / los/las peores
  • Badly  (adv)     mal                 
  • Worse  peor    
  • The worst  el/la peor / los/las peores

To say something is ‘as … as something’, i.e. showing equality, you use tan… como . The word tan translates as ‘such’, ‘so’ or ‘as’ in English, for example:

Esta universidad es tan grande como las otras – This university is as big as the others.

Leo un libro tan interesante sobre España – I am reading such an interesting book on Spain

Esta tema es tan importante – This subject is so important

¡Que tema tan interesante! – What (such) an interesting subject!     

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