Spanish languagePosition of Spanish Adjectives

Spanish adjectives may be found before or after the nouns they modify, depending on various factors. Generally speaking, descriptive adjectives follow nouns, while limiting adjectives (which includes all other kinds, such as demonstrative, indefinite, etc.) precede nouns.

I. Descriptive adjectives distinguish between different nouns of the same type and follow the nouns they modify: el libro verde vs el libro rojo. Exceptions and notes:
  A. When two descriptive adjectives modify the same noun, they may
    1) be joined by y
      la chica alta y bonita the tall, beautiful girl
      el libro emocionante e interesante the thrilling and interesting book
    2) surround the noun, with the shorter or less important adjective preceding the noun.
      el joven inmigrante marroquí the young Moroccan immigrant
      un típico restaurante turístico a typical tourist restaurant
  B. When a descriptive adjective indicates an inherent quality of a noun, it may precede
      la blanca nieve the white snow
      los altos picos the tall peaks
  C. When a descriptive adjective expresses subjectivity, it precedes
      el mejor restaurante the best restaurant
      Es una mala idea. It's a bad idea.
II. Limiting adjectives specify which nouns are under discussion and precede the nouns they modify: este libro vs ese libro. Exceptions:
  A. The long forms of possessive adjectives always follow the nouns they modify.
      un amigo mío a friend of mine
      el libro tuyo your book
  B. Ordinal numbers may follow the noun in order to emphasize it.
      la casa segunda the second house
      las fiestas primeras the first parties


Introduction to Adjectives     Adjectives Index

More Spanish Grammar     Spanish for Beginners


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