Adjective or Adverb in Spanish Grammar

Introduction

It’s not always easy to distinguish between adjectives and adverbs in Spanish grammar. Adjectives describe nouns, whereas, adverbs describe verbs, adjectives and other adverbs.

Learn when to use adjectives and when to use adverbs with Lingolia’s simple overview and examples. In the exercises, you can practise what you have learnt.

Example

Los tres ratones Parchís, Bolita y Bellota ordenan rápidamente las carpetas. Parchís y Bolita son más rápidos que Bellota.

Los ratones están felices y nos miran riéndose. Han hecho un buen trabajo. Incluso Bellota, que siempre trabaja más despacio, ha trabajado realmente bien.

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Adjective or Adverb

Adjectives describe nouns (How is someone or something?) They agree with their corresponding noun in number and gender.

Example:
Los ratones están felices y nos miran riéndose.The mice are happy and look at us with a smile.

How are the mice? – happy

Han hecho un buen trabajo. They’ve done good work.

How is their work? – good
bueno loses the o before a masculine noun in the singular.

Adverbs describe verbs, adjectives, other adverbs, or entire clauses. (How does someone do something? How good/bad/… is someone/something?) We can form adverbs in Spanish by adding the ending -mente.

Example:
Han trabajado felizmente.They worked happily.

How did they work? – happily
feliz → felizmente

Han trabajado bien.They worked well.

How did they work? – well
bueno → bien

To Note

The following adjectives often come before the noun and in that case they drop their masculine ending o in the singular: primer(o), mal(o), buen(o), tercer(o).

Example:
Tengo un mal día.I have a bad day. (Adjektiv)
El ejercicio está mal hecho.The exercise is done badly. (Adverb)

Adverbios Adjetivales

Some Spanish adjectives are used as adverbs with certain verbs. These so-called adverbios adjetivales can be recognised by their -o ending which is unchanging – no matter whether the noun is masculine or feminine, singular or plural. The most common verbs and their adverbios adjetivales are listed in the table below.

Example:
Ella corre rápido/lento.She runs fast/slowly.
Ellos hablan alto/bajo.They speak loudly/softly.
Las chicas se levantan temprano.The girls get up early.
verbadverbio adjetivalexample
arrojar, colocar, poner, subir, volar altohigh, bajolow La avioneta vuela muy alto.The sports plane flies very high.
cantar, conversar, decir, hablar, llamar, pronunciar altoloudly, bajosoftly, fuertestrongly, reciostrongly, powerfully, claroclearly Mi vecina canta muy alto.My neighbour sings very loudly
comprar, vender baratocheaply, affordably, caroexpensively Nunca he comprado tan barato.I’ve never shopped so affordably.
ir (a uno), pasar(lo), sentirse bárbarogreat/super, fenomenal/fenómenofantastically Nos lo hemos pasado fenomenal.We entertained ourselves fantastically.
lavar (más) blancowhite(r) Esta lejía lava más blanco que esta otra.This bleach washes whiter than the other one.
oír, ver claroclearly Yo lo veo claro.I see it clearly.
caminar, continuar, ir, salir, seguir, venir derechodirectly, recto, rápidoquickly, despacioslowly Después de trabajar iré derecho a casa.After work, I will go straight home.
pensar, opinar distintodifferently Ya sabes que en ese tema él piensa distinto.You know that he thinks differently about this topic.
trabajar durohard, intensively, fuerte Los empleados trabajan muy duro.The employees work very hard.
dar, pegar duroheavily, violently, hard El policía le dió duro al ladrón.The policeman struck the thief hard.
ir, pasar, oír fatalbadly Mis abuelos oyen fatal.My grandparents hear very badly.
mirar fijoexactly, carefully, firmly Hay que mirar muy fijo para poder ver una estrella fugaz.You have to look very carefully to be able to see a shooting star.
pisar fuertestrongly, solidly, firmefirmly, securely Pisa tan fuerte como puedas para no resbalarte.Tread as solidly as you can, so you don’t fall.
granizar, llover, nevar, tronar fuerteheavily, a lot Hoy nieva muy fuerte.Today it’s snowing heavily.
calar, clavar, enterrar, penetrar, respirar, herir hondodeeply, intensely Esa película me ha calado muy hondo.This film touched me deeply.
conversar, hablar largo (y tendido)extensively, at great length He hablado largo y tendido con mi jefe.I spoke at great length with my boss.
abrir, conocer, enterarse (de), escribir, hablar, levantarse, llegar, pensar, poseer, trabajar, subir primerofirst, rápidoquickly, prontoearly, soon, tempranoearly, soon Hay que enterarse primero de dónde tenemos que ir.We have to figure out where we’re going first.