Position of Adjectives in Spanish Grammar
The position of adjectives in Spanish grammar varies. Generally, adjectives are placed after the noun they describe. However, in certain situations, an adjective can be placed before a noun. Be careful, because some adjectives change their meaning when they are placed before a noun.
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- Usually, an adjective comes after a noun in Spanish.
- la mesa negrathe black table
- Sometimes adjectives are also placed before a noun. This is done to emphasise the adjective or to give the phrase a literally or poetic tone. Be careful not to overuse this literary device as it is not the natural word order in Spanish and can sound clumsy when used incorrectly.
- la bonita florthe beautiful flower
- Numerical adjectives are usually placed before a noun, but they can also be placed after a noun.
- el primer capítulo/el capítulo primerothe first chapter
- Some adjectives change their meaning when placed before a noun.
- una mujer grandea tall woman
- physical quality
- una gran mujera great woman
- personal quality
The adjectives primero, tercero, bueno, malo and grande drop their ending when placed before a noun: primer/tercer/beun/mal/gran + noun. However, this change does not occur when the adjective is feminine or plural.
- el primer libro/el libro primerothe first book
- la primera novela/la novela primerathe first novel
- las primeras palabra/las palabras primerasthe first words
With the exception of grande which changes in the masculine and feminine singular forms.
- la gran violinista the great violinist
- el gran pianistathe great pianist
- los grandes músicosthe great musicians
Change of Meaning
Some adjectives change their meaning depending on their position in a sentence. Some of the most frequent examples are listed in the table below.
|adjective||meaning before a noun||meaning after a noun||examples|
|pobre||poor (pitiful)||poor (financially)||
|próximo||next (in order)||next (soon, coming)||
|puro||just, simply||pure, fresh||
|solo||single, only||alone, lonely||
|verdadero||real (for emphasis)||true||