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Spanish Adjectives, Nouns and Articles

Before getting to some of the basic Spanish adjectives we need to start with the definite and indefinite articles. Unlike the "the" in English, there are four options in Spanish. We also will introduce you to a few more basic Spanish nouns as we introduce the articles.

The Articles

The Definite Article

English has only one definite article: "the" In Spanish the definite articles are: el, la, los, las:

el carro - (the car)
la casa -  (the house)
los carros -  (the cars)
las casas -  (the houses)

"El" is used with masculine singular nouns; "la" is used with feminine singular nouns; "los" is used with masculine plural nouns; and "las" is used with feminine plural nouns.

Note:
You can tell the difference between "el" (article "the") and "él" (personal pronoun "he") because the second has an accent.

The Indefinite Article

In English the indefinite article is "a" or "an." Its Spanish counterparts are: "un" (masculine nouns) and "una" (feminine nouns):

un árbol -  (a tree)
una mesa - (a table)

Spanish Nouns

In Spanish - unlike English - each noun is either masculine or feminine. Almost all nouns that end in o are masculine and almost all nouns that end in a are feminine. (But, notice that I said almost). In order to form the plural of nouns ending in o or a, an s is added.

Examples:

el niño (the boy)
los niños (the boys)

la niña (the girl)
las niñas (the girls)

Nouns ending in dad, tad, tud, umbre, ción, sión are feminine. The plural is formed by adding "es" to nouns ending in a consonant, and "s" to those ending in a vowel.

Examples:

la ciudad (the city)
las ciudades (the cities)

la facultad (the faculty)
las facultades (the faculties)

la actitud (the attitude)
las actitudes (the attitudes)

la legumbre (the vegetable)
las legumbres (the vegetables)

la nación (the nation)
las naciones (the nations)

la televisión (the television)
las televisiones (the televisions)

There are some nouns that are masculine but end in "a." To form the plural we have to add "s" (Don't forget that the article "el" goes with masculine singular nouns and the article "los" goes with masculine plural nouns, so the plural of el mapa is los mapas.)

Examples:

el mapa (the map)
el día (the day)
el clima (the climate)
el tema (the theme)
el sistema (the system)
el programa (the program)
el telegrama (the telegram)
el drama (the drama)
el poema (the poem)
el planeta (the planet)

Nouns ending in "e" tend to be masculine. To form the plural of nouns ending in "e" an "s" is added. (Don't forget that the article: "el" goes with masculine singular nouns and the article "los" goes with masculine plural nouns, so the plural of el parque is los parques.)

el parque (the park)
el cine (the movie theater)
el carro (the car)
el café (the cafe)
el viaje (the trip)
el bosque (the forest)
el aire (the air)
el puente (the bridge)
el arte (the art)
el nombre (the name)

Here is a list of very common nouns that end in e but happen to be feminine:

la calle (the street)
la clase (the class)
la leche (the milk)
la llave (the key)
la noche (the night)
la gente (the people)
la tarde (the afternoon)
la nube (the cloud)

The Adjectives

First of all, Spanish adjectives have a different placement in the sentence than English adjectives: In English, it's the pretty house, whereas in Spanish, it's the house pretty = la casa bonita. In Spanish the noun comes before the adjective.

The Spanish adjectives must agree in gender and number with the nouns that they modify. This means that if the noun is feminine and singular the adjective has to be feminine and singular too. If the noun is feminine and plural the adjective has to be feminine and plural.

Examples:

La mesa vieja (the old table)

Las mesas viejas (the old tables)

The same is true of masculine nouns. If the noun is masculine and singular the adjective has to be masculine and singular too. If the noun is masculine and plural the adjective has to be masculine and plural.

Examples:

El carro sucio (the dirty car)

Los carros sucios (the dirty cars)

Most frequently used Spanish adjectives end in o (masculine) or a (feminine), according to the noun they modify.

Examples:

alto, alta (tall)
ancho, ancha (wide)
amarillo, amarilla (yellow)
barato, barata (cheap)
blanco, blanca (white)
bonito, bonita (pretty)
bueno, buena (good)
caro, cara (expensive)
cómodo, cómoda (comfortable)
corto, corta (short)
delgado, delgada (thin)
duro, dura (hard)
estrecho, estrecha (narrow)
extranjero, extranjera (foreign)
feo, fea (ugly)
frío, fría (cold)
gordo, gorda (fat)
hermoso, hermosa (beautiful)
largo, larga (long)
limpio, limpia (clean)
loco, loca (crazy)
malo, mala (bad)
negro, negra (black)
rico, rica (rich)
sucio, sucia (dirty)
viejo, vieja (old)

However, there are many adjectives that end in e and some that end in consonants. These are called neutral adjectives, because they don't change form with masculine or feminine nouns. To form their plurals you need to add an s to the ones ending in e and es to the ones ending in a consonant.

Examples:

elegante (elegant)
excelente (excellent)
fuerte (strong)
grande (big)
humilde (humble)
importante (important)
inteligente (intelligent)
interesante (interesting)
pobre (poor)
triste (sad)
verde (green)

Spanish adjectives ending with consonants:

popular (popular)
azul (blue)
fácil (easy)
feliz (happy)
gris (gray)

Note: There are many rules about Spanish adjectives and many exceptions to those rules. The above is the most general and easiest aproach to Spanish adjectives. You will learn more in the future, but if you learn the lesson here well, you'll rarely have problems.

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