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Order of Adjectives in Spanish Conversa Institute

Order of Adjectives in Spanish

If someone were to say “blue big bear” to you, you’d notice that it sounded odd, and it’s better to say “The big blue bear”. In both English and Spanish, there’s an accepted order of adjectives. With a lesson and some practice, the correct order will sound natural. By practicing reading at the appropriate level, you’ll be exposed to lots of complicated sentences that have lots of descriptions and details. When there are multiple adjectives in a row, knowing where to put them will level up your Spanish!

Basic adjective placement

The first key lesson is that, generally speaking, adjectives go after the noun in Spanish. In some cases, adjectives go before the noun, like to over-emphasize a concept, demonstrative adjectives and numbers, but they usually go after. This is a big difference from English, where adjectives go before the noun. Take a look at these examples in English and Spanish:

The pink door.

La puerta rosada.

When you start learning adjectives and where they go, the lesson focuses a lot on practicing putting adjectives after the noun. Once you’ve mastered that concept, you’re ready for the next step- multiple adjectives!

Order of adjectives in Spanish

In English, you use multiple adjectives all the time. Sometimes I don’t want to just say the big tree, I want to say scary old gray tree. English follows this word order for adjectives:

Quantity, quality or opinion, size, age, shape, color, proper adjective, purpose or qualifier- NOUN.

This is why scary old gray tree sounds natural- it goes in the order of opinion, age, color.

Fortunately, Spanish is a little more flexible than English when it comes to the order of adjectives. For the most part, you’ll see the same order as English, but in reverse! According to Collins Dictionary, if you want to use multiple adjectives in Spanish, you can use them in any order as long as you separate them with commas and the word y.

It’s common to hear someone describe an old red car in English, and a coche rojo y viejo in Spanish. Do you see how the word order is flipped? Don’t be shy to add more adjectives to your descriptions to practice vocabulary and grammar at the same time.

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