Making Spanish Adjectives Agree with the Nouns They Modify

Part of the Spanish Grammar For Dummies Cheat Sheet

In Spanish grammar, adjectives have to agree with the nouns they modify in both gender and number, no matter what:

  • Gender: If a noun is feminine, like la muchacha (the girl), the adjective must be feminine, too. For example, to talk about a tall girl, you’d say la muchacha alta (the tall girl). If the girl has a brother who’s also tall, you’d say el muchacho alto (the tall boy).

  • Number: If a noun is plural, the adjective must also be plural. For example, to describe a group of tall girls, you’d say las muchachas altas. To describe a group of tall boys, you’d say los muchachos altos. Similarly, if a noun is singular, the adjective must be singular, too (see the preceding bullet for examples).

Following are some general rules about making adjectives agree with the nouns they modify:

  • Like nouns, most adjectives follow the general rule that masculine adjectives end in -o and pluralize with -s and feminine adjectives end in -a and pluralize with -s.

  • Adjectives that end in a consonant, -e, or -ista usually don’t have masculine and feminine forms, but they do have singular and plural forms. To make an adjective that ends in -e or -ista plural, simply add -s. To make an adjective that ends in a consonant plural, add -es.

  • With some adjectives that end in -dor, -ón, or -án, you add -a to form the feminine, -es to form the masculine plural, and -as to form the feminine plural.

Here are a few more examples of adjectives that agree with the nouns they modify in both gender and number:

  • un examen difícil (a difficult exam)

  • una chica inteligente (a smart girl)

  • unos peces caros (some expensive fish)

  • unas reglas importantes (some important rules)

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