The Rules for Spanish Noun-Adjective Agreement

In the previous lesson, we explained the rules for adjective placement and talked about some situations in which they will be used before or after nouns. In this lesson, we learn about another important feature called “concordancia del adjetivo y el sustantivo”, that is Spanish noun-adjective agreement. Do not worry, it will be easier than it sounds, though you will understand everything way faster if you already know the basics about noun gender and the plural form of nouns.  

Introductory video: How to use Spanish adjectives in descriptions

We will begin this lesson with a video explaining the basic rules to use Spanish adjectives. The person in the video speaks only Spanish, but you can also activate the captions (cc) below to translate into English or check the script. This video includes some examples and notes that will be very helpful to understand more about the way Spanish adjectives work in the language.

Spanish noun-adjective agreement in gender

Spanish masculine adjectives

Most adjectives must agree in gender with the noun they modify. When describing a masculine noun like “Amigo”, we must use a masculine noun as well such as such as “Honesto”. Just like with nouns, Spanish masculine adjectives usually end in the vowel -O like “Bonito” and “Creativo”, e.g. “El niño es bonito y gordo”. In addition, some words ending in -R will also be considered masculine adjectives.

Some examples of common Spanish masculine adjectives are:
Afortunado (lucky), Alto (tall), Bajo (short), Bueno (Good), Estupendo (awesome), Famoso (famous), Malo (bad) and Pequeño (small)

Spanish Feminine Adjectives

On the other hand, when describing feminine nouns like CASA (house), we have to use a feminine adjective like BONITA (pretty) or ESPACIOSA (spacious), and not a masculine one such as BONITO or ESPACIOSO. That being said, Spanish feminine adjectives are the same words with a slight change at the end from -O to -A, e.g. “Bueno” to “Buena”. It is possible to make some masculine adjectives feminine by adding -A at the end when the words ends in a consonant, but not in all cases, e.g. “Trabajador/Trabajadora” (correct) and “Popular/Populara” (incorrect). Most nationalities change their gender too, including some that end in consonants like “español->española”.

Spanish adjectives for both masculine and feminine nouns

Some adjectives are used for both genders despite their ending, especially those that end in -E or in consonants, for example: “un libro interesante”, “un examen fácil”, “un chico optimista/una chica optimista”.

Some Spanish adjectives used to describe masculine and feminine nouns are:
Amable (kind), Difícil (difficult), Fácil (easy), Flexible, Paciente (patient), Verde (green). Also, most numbers except for the number one, that will change to UN when used before a masculine noun, and to UNA before a feminine noun, e.g. “Un amigo” and “Una amiga

Spanish noun-adjective agreement rules and examples
El género de los sustantivos

Grammar quiz: Spanish adjectives gender agreement

It’s time for you to check if you understand the basics about the gender adjectives with a simple quiz. Complete each sentence with the correct form of the adjective. Remember that the gender of the noun, as well as other words in the sentences such as EL, LA and others help us determine the gender of a missing word. You will get a tip every time you find a correct answer. Press START to begin the test.
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Making Spanish adjectives agree with plural nouns

As we mentioned above, Spanish adjectives normally have a singular and a plural form. The rules are exactly the same used to form the plural of nouns. To illustrate this, for a sentence like “She is a pretty model”, we would say “Ella es una modelo hermosa”, but for several models, we must say “Ellas son modelos hermosas”. Notice that all of the words, including the subject pronoun and the verb SER as well, will change so that there is actual Spanish noun-adjective agreement and the sentence makes sense.

Sentences with Spanish plural adjectives

  1. Ellos son unos niños muy inteligentes.
  2. Él es un empresario exitoso.
  3. Nosotros somos buenos amigos.
  4. Ella es una señora amable.
  5. Ellas son mujeres emprendedoras.

 

Do we need a singular or a plural Spanish adjective?

It’s time to practice the singular and plural form of adjectives with a quiz. Complete each of the following sentences with the right form of each “adjetivo” and “sustantivo”. You will receive a tip every time you find a correct answer. Press START to begin.
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