Notes from ¿Qué tal? – Placement of Adjectives

As you have probably noticed, adjectives do not always precede the noun in Spanish as they do in English. Note the following rules for adjective placement.

  • Adjectives of quantity like numbers, precede the noun, as do the interrogatives
  • ¿cuanto/a? and ¿cuantos/as?.
    Hay muchas sillas y dos escritorios. – There are many chairs and two desks.
    Busco otro[1] coche. – I’m looking for another car.
    ¿Cuánto dinero necesitas? – How much money do you need?

  • Adjectives that describe the qualities of a noun and distinguish it from others generally follow the noun. Adjectives of nationality are included in this category.
  • un perro bueno
    una joven delgada y morena
    un dependiente trabajador
    un joven español

  • The adjectives bueno and malo may precede or follow the noun they modify. When they precede a masculine singular noun, they shorten to buen and mal respectively.
  • un buen perro / un perro bueno
    una buena perra / una perra buena
    un mal dia / un dia malo
    una mala noche / una noche mala

  • The adjective grande may also precede or follow the noun. When it precedes a singular noun–masculine or feminine–it shortens to gran and means great or impressive. When it follows the noun, it means large or big.
  • Nueva York es una ciudad grande. – New York is a large city.
    Nueva York es una gran ciudad. – New York is a great (impressive) city.

[1] Otro by itself means another or other. The indefinite article is not used with otro.

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