Let’s face it: life is boring without adjectives. Adjectives make our language more exciting, and one of the fun parts of learning Spanish is discovering how to spice up your conversation with new adjectives.

Person writing in Spanish on tablet

But how exactly do adjectives work in Spanish?

Whether you’re a new Spanish speaker or someone looking to travel to a Spanish-speaking country soon, the following list of guidelines can help you get started using Spanish adjectives like a native. We’ve also included a list of Spanish adjectives you can use to expand your vocabulary and practice making your conversations a little more… descriptive.

Review: what’s an adjective?

An adjective is a word that describes a noun — a person, place, thing, or concept. Adjectives help us understand more about the world around us. An adjective might describe:

Spanish adjectives accomplish the same functions as English adjectives, though the two languages have different grammar rules on how to change and place adjectives in a sentence.

Spanish for Beginners. The Complete Method. Level 1

Last Updated November 2021

Highest Rated
  • 47 lectures
  • Beginner Level
4.8 (19,910)

Learn Spanish with the complete, non-stop SPEAKING method, in a matter of weeks, not years. | By Peter Hanley

Explore Course

Spanish adjectives change based on gender and number

If you’re a little familiar with Spanish, you may remember that Spanish nouns can have feminine or masculine genders. When you learn a new noun in Spanish, be sure to learn the gender as well because this will help you form the right Spanish adjectives.

A Spanish adjective can have up to four endings, with a different ending for each combination of gender (masculine or feminine) and number (singular or plural).

If you learn a new Spanish adjective, chances are that you’ll learn the singular, masculine form of the adjective. But this is just one of the possible adjective forms you can use.

Let’s consider the example “rojo,” which means “red.” The different possible endings are:

CaseEndingExample
Singular, Masculine-oel coche rojothe red car
Singular, Feminine-ala casa rojathe red house
Plural, Masculine-oslos libros rojosthe red books
Plural, Feminine-asLas sillas rojasthe red chairs

Sometimes, an adjective ending doesn’t change with gender.

In the example “azul” (“blue”), there are only two possible endings:

CaseExample
Singular, Masculineel cielo azulthe blue sky
Singular, Femininela mesa azulthe blue table
Plural, Masculinelos sombreros azulesthe blue hats
Plural, Femininelas flores azulesthe blue flowers

If the adjective ends in -e or a consonant, then there are usually only two endings, singular and plural. These adjectives will be specially marked throughout the rest of this article.

How do you know which Spanish adjective ending to use?

The adjective ending in Spanish always depends on the noun it modifies. If the noun is masculine and singular, use the masculine, singular ending (usually –o). If the noun is plural and feminine, then use the plural, feminine ending (usually –las).

When using adjectives to describe a person, use the gender that the person identifies with. Note that there are some words for people that take on fixed grammatical genders, no matter how the person identifies in real life. The adjectives for these words should follow the gender of the noun. Here are a few common examples:

La persona (person)

Mi hermano es una persona honesta.
My brother is an honest person.

Here, “persona” is a feminine noun that refers to any person, regardless of biological or expressed gender. Still, the adjective needs to match the grammatical gender.

La gente (group of people)

Hay mucha gente en el restaurante.
There are a lot of people in the restaurant.

This example is particularly strange. “Gente” is a single feminine noun, even though it refers to many people that can be all men, all women, or a complete mix. 

El ser (being)

Mi madre es un ser humano.
My mother is a human being.

A “being” in Spanish only has one grammatical gender, irrespective of the actual gender of the being in question.

Capitalizing Spanish adjectives

In Spanish, all adjectives are spelled with lowercase letters unless they start a sentence. Even adjectives that come from proper nouns like “Spanish” (español) or “Mexican” (mexicano) are always spelled with lowercase letters.

Possessive adjectives in Spanish

For the possessive determiners my, your, his, her, its, and their, the adjective is the same whether the noun is masculine or feminine. But you do need to remember to take the singular and plural forms into account.

mi casamy house
mis librosmy books
tu abrigoyour coat
tus sillasyour chairs
Su dinerohis/her/its/your (formal)/their money
Sus chaquetashis/her/its/your (formal)/their jackets

For our, the possessive adjective changes based on gender as well as number:

nuestro hogarour home
nuestra mesaour table
nuestros vinosour wines
nuestras cervezasour beers

For possessive pronouns that come after the noun, change the adjective ending based on gender and number as you usually would.

The possessive pronouns in Spanish are:

míomine
tuyoyours (informal)
suyohis/hers/yours (formal)
nuestroours
suyotheirs
El libro es mío.
The book is mine.
¿Esas gafas son tuyas?
Are those eyeglasses yours?

Using Spanish adjectives with “ser” and “estar”

A simple way to connect adjectives with nouns is to use the verbs for “to be,” which are “ser” and “estar.”

El coche es negro.
The car is black.
La niña está triste.
The girl is sad.

Remember to use the right singular/plural form of “ser” or “estar” to match the noun.

Las sillas son rojas.
The chairs are red.
Los hombres son honestos.
The men are honest.

When to use “ser” or “estar” with a Spanish adjective

Though “ser” and “estar” both translate to “to be” in English, they have slightly different meanings. When it comes to adjectives, here is when you should use “ser” and “estar.”

When to use “ser” with Spanish adjectives

Here are a few rules of thumb on when to use “ser” with an adjective in Spanish:

Origin

Los dulces son mexicanos.
The sweets are Mexican.

Nationality

Mi amigo es español.
My friend is Spanish.

Religious or political association

Los niños son budistas.
The children are Buddhist.

Material

La estatua es dorada.
The statue is golden.

Possession

La mesa es mía.
The table is mine.

Other essential or permanent qualities

Ella es inteligente.
She is intelligent.

Seven Spanish adjectives that are always used with “ser”

simpáticokind
importanteimportant
famosofamous
posiblepossible
comúncommon
suficientesufficient/enough
capazcapable

When to use “estar” with Spanish adjectives

Below are the cases when you should use “estar” with a Spanish adjective instead:

Emotions

El niño está contento.
The boy is happy.

Temporary conditions

Yo estoy enfermo.
I am sick.

Location or position

La casa está cerca.
The house is nearby.

Seven Spanish adjectives that are always used with “estar”

bienwell
malwrong
preocupadoworried
enfermosick
enojadoupset
contentopleased/content
satisfechosatisfied

Adjectives that change meaning with “ser” and “estar”

There are a few adjectives in Spanish that have different meanings depending on whether you use “ser” or “estar.” Here are the most common examples:

Listo

ser listoto be clever
estar listoto be ready/prepared

Bueno

ser buenoto be good
estar buenoto be attractive

Malo

ser maloto be bad/evil
estar maloto be spoiled (for eating)

Rico

ser ricoto be rich
estar ricoto be tasty

Seguro

ser seguroto be safe
estar seguroto be sure/certain

Orgulloso

ser orgullosoto be a proud person
estar orgullosoto be proud (of someone/something)

Verde

ser verdeto be green (color)
estar verdeto be unripe or immature

Where do you put the adjective in Spanish?

If you don’t want to use a Spanish adjective with “ser” or “estar,” you can add the adjective next to the noun. Whether you place the adjective after or before the noun depends on the adjective and the situation.

After the noun

Most of the time, an adjective in Spanish should come after the noun it modifies.

la lámpara rojathe red lamp
los niños simpáticosthe nice children

Before the noun

When using adjectives that indicate quantities or differences, the adjective comes before the noun.

dos ciudades two cities
mucha lluviaa lot of rain
poca comidanot a lot of food
muchos avionesmany airplanes
pocas personasfew people

Changes in adjective meaning before or after the noun

There are a few Spanish adjectives that change meaning depending on whether they’re before or after the noun. Here are some of the most common ones:

Viejo

mi viejo amigo my long-time friend
mi amigo viejomy elderly friend

Nuevo

tu nueva casayour newly bought house
tu casa nuevayour newly built house

Gran/grande

una gran ciudad a great city
Una ciudad grandea big city

Alto

alta cocina high-class cuisine
Una persona altaa tall person

Pobre

el pobre hombrethe unfortunate man
el hombre pobrethe poor man

Único

la única pinturathe only painting
la pintura únicathe unique painting

Solo

una sola sillaone single chair
una mujer solaa lonely woman

Distinto

distintos coloresvarious colors
colores distintosdistinct colors

Puro

pura felicidadnothing but happiness
almas puraspure souls

Raro

un raro objetoa rare object
un objeto rarean unusual object

Triste

la triste historiathe tragic history
un niño tristea sad boy

Multiple Spanish adjectives

To describe something with several adjectives, you can list them as you would in English. Just remember to make sure that the adjective endings agree with the gender and number of the noun.

la casa vieja y carathe big, expensive house
los libros rojos, pequeños e interesantesthe small, red, interesting books

Common Spanish adjectives

Colors

rojoredROH-ho
rosadopink/roseroh-SAH-doh
anaranjadoorangeah-nah-rahn-HAH-do
amarilloyellow/amberah-mah-REE-yo
verde*greenVER-deh
azul*blueah-SOOL
moradopurplemo-RAH-doh
violeta*violetvee-oh-LE-ta
blancowhiteBLAHN-co
negroblackNEH-gro
marron*brownmah-RROHN
gris*grayGREES

*These adjectives don’t change between masculine and feminine nouns.

Physical characteristics (People)

altotallAHL-toh
bajoshort (height)BAH-ho
gordofatGORE-doh
flacoskinnyFLAH-co
delgadoslimdell-GAH-doh
joven*youngHO-ven
biejooldvee-EH-ho
atractivoattractiveah-track-TEE-vo
bellobeautifulBEH-yo
guapohandsome/beautifulgoo-AH-poh
bonitoprettyboh-NEE-toh
feouglyFEH-oh
rubioblondROO-bee-oh
pelirrojoredheadpeh-lee-ROH-ho

*These adjectives don’t change between masculine and feminine nouns.

Physical characteristics (Things)

largolongLAR-go
cortoshort (length)CORE-toh
anchowideAHN-choh
estrechonarrowess-TRAY-choh
pequeñosmallpeh-KAY-nyoh
grande*bigGRAHN-de
cercanonearbyser-CAH-no
lejanofar awaylay-HAH-no
limpiocleanLEEM-pee-oh
suciodirtySOO-see-oh
llenofullYEH-no
vacíoemptyvah-SEE-oh

*These adjectives don’t change between masculine and feminine nouns.

Character traits

inteligenteintelligenteen-teh-lee-HEN-teh
felizhappyFEH-lees
sabiowiseSAH-bee-oh
prudenteprudentproo-DEN-teh
responsableresponsibleres-pon-SAH-bleh
quietoquiet/calmkee-EH-toh
animadoexcitable/animatedah-nee-MAH-doh
extrañostrangeex-TRAH-nyoh
ambiciosoambitiousahm-bee-see-OH-so
perezosolazypeh-reh-SO-so
capazcapablekah-PAHS
competentecompetentcom-peh-TEN-teh
honestohonestoh-NES-toh
maduromaturemah-DOO-roh
caprichosowhimsicalca-pree-CHOH-so
table and chairs, flower pots, Spanish themed

Travel and living

(habitación) doble*doble (room)DOH-bleh
(habitación) individual*single (room)een-dee-vee-doo-AHL
semanal*weeklyseh-mah-NAL
mensual*monthlymen-soo-AHL
anual*annualah-noo-AHL
completocompletecom-pleh-toh
cansadotiredcahn-SAH-doh
dormidoasleepdor-MEE-doh
despiertoawakedes-pee-AIR-toh
tempranoearlytem-PRAH-no
tarde*lateTAR-deh
retrasadodelayedreh-trah-SAH-doh
turísticotouristictoo-REES-tee-co
local*localloh-CAL
extranjeroforeignex-trahn-HEH-roh

*These adjectives don’t change between masculine and feminine nouns.

Family and relationships

solterosinglesol-TEH-roh
casadomarriedcah-SAH-doh
divorciadodivorceddee-vor-see-AH-doh
mayor*older (person)mah-YOR
menor*younger (person)meh-NOR
embarazadapregnantem-bah-rah-SAH-dah
enamoradoin loveen-ah-mo-RAH-do
fiel*faithfulfee-EL
infiel*unfaithfuleen-fee-EL

*These adjectives don’t change between masculine and feminine nouns.

Food and drink

deliciosodeliciousdeh-lee-see-OH-so
finofineFEE-no
sabrosotasty/delicioussah-BROH-so
alérgicoallergicah-LER-hee-coh
vegetarianovegetarianveh-heh-tah-ree-AH-no
veganoveganveh-GAH-no
kosher*kosherKOH-sher
halal*halalhah-LAL
(vino) tintored (wine)TEEN-toh
(vino) blancowhite (wine)BLAHN-coh
emborrachadodrunkem-boh-rah-CHA-doh
saludable*healthysa-loo-DAH-bleh
picante*spicypee-CAHN-teh
dulce*sweetDOOL-seh
amargobitterah-MAHR-go
saladosaltysah-LAH-doh
agriosourAH-gree-oh
fritofriedFREE-toh
hervidoboiledehr-VEE-doh
asadoroasted/grilledah-SAH-do
horneadobakedohr-neh-AH-doh
cocidocooked/stewedco-SEE-doh
blandosoftBLAHN-doh
durohardDOO-ro
pasteurizadopasteurizedpas-te-oo-ree-SAH-doh
crudorawCROO-doh
tostadotoastedtos-TAH-doh
mixtomixedMEEKS-toh
surtidoassortedsoor-TEE-doh
endulzadosweeteneden-dool-SAHL-doh
herbal*herbalehr-BAL

*These adjectives don’t change between masculine and feminine nouns.

Featured courses in Language Learning

Shopping

abiertoopenah-bee-EHR-toh
cerradoclosedseh-RAH-doh
caroexpensiveCAH-roh
baratocheapbah-RAH-toh
disponible*availabledees-poh-NEE-bleh
confirmadoconfirmedcon-feer-MAH-doh
modernomodernmo-DER-no
tradicional*traditionaltrah-dee-see-oh-NAL
reducidodiscounted/reducedreh-doo-SEE-do

*These adjectives don’t change between masculine and feminine nouns.

Art, architecture, and music

artísticoartisticahr-TEES-tee-coh
musical*musicalmoo-see-CAHL
arquitectónicoarchitecturalahr-kee-tec-TOH-nee-coh
religiosoreligiousreh-lee-hee-OH-so
secular*secularseh-coo-LAR
antiguoancientan-TEE-goo-oh
clásicoclassicalCLAH-see-coh
medieval*medievalmeh-dee-eh-VAL
barrocobaroquebah-ROH-coh
románticoromanticroh-MAN-tee-coh
modernomodernmoh-DER-no
contemporáneocontemporarycon-tem-poh-RAH-neh-oh
postmodernopost-modernpost-moh-DER-no
doradogolden/gildeddoh-RAH-do
conocidoknowncoh-no-SEE-do
desconocidounknowndes-coh-no-SEE-do
famosofamousfah-MOH-so
popular*popularpo-poo-LAR
intensointensein-TEN-so

*These adjectives don’t change between masculine and feminine nouns.

Weather

caliente*hotcah-lee-EN-teh
fríocoldFREE-oh
soleadosunnyso-leh-AH-doh
despejadocleardes-peh-HAH-doh
nubladocloudynoo-BLAH-do
mojadowetmoh-HAH-do
secodrySEH-coh
húmedohumidOO-meh-doh
cálidowarm/mildCAH-lee-doh
lluviosorainyyoo-vee-OH-so
norteñonorthernnor-TEH-nyo
meridional*southernmeh-ree-dee-oh-NAL
oriental*easternoh-ree-en-TAL
occidental*westernox-ee-den-TAL

*These adjectives don’t change between masculine and feminine nouns.

Religions

agnósticoagnosticag-NOS-tee-coh
ateísta*atheistah-teh-EES-ta
budista*Buddhistboo-DEES-ta
católicoCatholiccah-TOH-lee-coh
confucianoConfuciancon-foo-see-AH-no
cristianoChristiancrees-tee-AH-no
hinduista*Hinduisteen-doo-EES-ta
islámicoIslamicees-LAH-mee-coh
judíoJewishhoo-DEE-oh
protestante*Protestantpro-tes-TAHN-teh
sije*SikhSEE-heh
taoístaTaoistta-oh-EES-ta

*These adjectives don’t change between masculine and feminine nouns.

Regions and nationalities

africanoAfricanah-free-CAH-no
asiáticoAsianah-see-AH-tee-coh
europeoEuropeaneh-oo-roh-PEH-oh
norteamericanoNorth Americannor-teh-ah-meh-ree-CAH-no
sudamericanoSouth Americansood-ah-meh-ree-CAH-no
afganoAfghanaf-GAH-no
alemán**Germanah-leh-MAHN
argentinoArgentinianar-hen-TEE-no
australianoAustralianaus-trah-lee-AH-no
austríacoAustrianaus-TREE-ah-coh
bolivianoBolivianbo-lee-vee-AH-no
brasileñoBrazilianbrah-see-LEH-nyo
canadiense*Canadiancah-nah-dee-EHN-seh
checoCzechCHEH-coh
chilenoChileanchee-LEH-no
chinoChineseCHEE-no
colombianoColombianCoh-lohm-bee-AH-no
coreanoKoreancoh-reh-AH-no
costarricense*Costa Ricancos-tah-ree-SEN-seh
croatoCroatiancroh-AH-toh
cubanoCubancoo-BAH-no
dominicanoDominicandoh-mee-nee-CAH-no
ecuatorianoEcuadoreaneh-qua-toh-ree-AH-no
estadounidense*(USA) Americanes-tah-doh-oo-nee-DEN-seh
español**Spanishes-pah-NYOL
francés**Frenchfrahn-SEHS
griegoGreekgree-EH-go
guatemaltecoGuatemalangoo-ah-teh-mahl-TEH-coh
hondureñoHonduranohn-doo-RE-nyo
indioIndianEEN-dee-oh
inglés**English/Britisheen-GLEHS
iraní*Iranianee-rah-NEE
iraquí*Iraqiee-rah-KEE
irlandés**Irisheer-lahn-DES
italianoItalianee-tah-lee-AH-no
holandés**Dutchoh-lahn-DES
japonés**Japanesehah-poh-NES
marroquí*Moroccanmah-ro-KEE
nicaragüense*Nicaraguannee-cah-ra-goo-EHN-se
noruegoNorwegianno-roo-EH-go
pakistaní*Pakistanipa-kees-tah-NEE
panameñoPanamanianpah-nah-MEH-nyo
paraguayoParaguayanpah-rah-goo-EYE-oh
peruanoPeruvianpeh-roo-AH-no
polacoPolishpoh-LAH-coh
portugués**Portuguesepor-too-GUESS
puertorriqueñoPuerto Ricanpoo-ehr-toh-ree-KEH-nyo
rusoRussianROO-so
salvadoreñoSalvadoreansal-vah-doh-REH-nyo
sudafricanoSouth Africansood-ah-free-CAH-no
suecoSwedishsoo-EH-coh
tailandés**Thaithai-lan-DES
turcoTurkishTOOR-coh
ucranianoUkranianoo-crah-nee-AH-no
uruguayoUruguayanoo-roo-goo-EYE-oh
venezolanoVenezuelanveh-neh-so-LAH-no

*These adjectives don’t change between masculine and feminine nouns.

**Add -a to these adjectives for the feminine forms. For example, española and inglesa.

Interested in learning more Spanish?

Check out our guide on ways to learn Spanish to continue your language learning journey. Udemy has a variety of Spanish language courses – from beginner to advanced – that will help you achieve your language learning goals in no time.

Page Last Updated: October 2021

Spanish Language students also learn

Empower your team. Lead the industry.

Get a subscription to a library of online courses and digital learning tools for your organization with Udemy for Business.

Request a demo