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||