Descriptive Adjectives in Spanish

The descriptive adjective is the most common type of adjective in the Spanish language. As its name suggests, it is descriptive in nature – specifically, it describes a noun. Since in Spanish, all parts of a noun phrase need to match in gender and number, descriptive adjectives always match the nouns they describe. If a noun is feminine, then the adjective must also be feminine. Likewise, if a noun is plural, the adjective must be plural. If a noun is feminine and plural, the adjective must be both feminine and plural. Consider the following examples.

the dresses
los vestidos
(masculine, plural)
the pretty dresses
los vestidos bonitos
(all parts masculine and plural)

Forming Descriptive Adjectives

When you look up adjectives in most dictionaries, they'll be presented in their masculine singular form. You'll need to change them to match the noun in your sentence, whether it be feminine and/or plural. In their singular form, the majority of adjectives end in -e, -o or a consonant. Below we'll explore the rules for matching adjectives to the gender and number of the nouns they describe.

Adjectives ending in -o

Most Spanish adjectives end in -o. Adjectives that end in -o have four possible endings, one for masculine, feminine, singular and plural nouns. These include the following:

When changing a masculine adjective to match a feminine noun, simply replace the -o ending with -a as shown in the following example.

It's a black dog.
(masculine - male dog)
Es un perro negro.
It's a black dog.
(feminine - female dog)
Es una perra negra.

To change a singular adjective ending in -o or -a to match a plural noun, simply add -s to the ending as shown in the following examples.

She is a short woman.
Es una mujer baja.
They are short women.
Son mujeres bajas.
He is a fat boy.
Es un chico gordo.
They are fat boys.
Son chicos gordos.

Adjectives ending in -e or -ista

Adjectives ending in -e or -ista do not change with gender, they only change for number. To make a singular adjective ending in -e or -ista plural, simply add an -s to the ending. Read and listen to the following examples, then repeat each out loud.

My brother is very interesting.
Mi hermano es muy interestante.
My brothers are very interesting.
Mis hermanos son muy interesantes.
My friend is very idealistic.
Mi amigo es muy idealista.
My friends are very idealistic.
Mis amigos son muy idealistas.

Adjectives ending in a consonant

Just like adjectives that end in -e or -ista, most adjectives that end with a consonant only change for number, not gender. To make a singular adjective ending in a consonant plural, simply add -es to the ending.

The skirt is blue.
La falda es azul.
The skirts are blue.
Las faldas son azules
The happy boy is in the park playing.
El chico feliz está en el parque jugando.
The happy boys are in the park playing.
Los chicos felices están en el parque jugando.
The job is easy.
El trabajo es fácil.
The jobs are easy.
Los trabajos son fáciles

Adjectives ending in -z

Singular adjectives that end in -z are made plural by changing the -z to -c and then adding the plural ending. Review the following examples.

The little girl is happy.
La niña pequeña es feliz.
The little girls are happy.
Las niñas pequeñas son felices.

Adjectives ending in -or, -ón, or -ín

Even though adjectives ending in -or, -ón, or -ín end in a consonant, they still have a feminine form. To make these adjectives feminine and/or plural, add -a, -as or -es to the masculine singular form and, if necessary, remove the written accent. Review the following examples.

My father was always very hard working.
Mi padre siempre fue muy trabajador.
My mother was also very hard working.
Mi madre también fue muy trabajadora.
My sons learned to be very hard working from their parents.
Mis hijos aprendieron a ser muy trabajadores como sus padres.
My daughters learned to be very hard working from their mother.
Mis hijas aprendieron a ser muy trabajadoras como su madre.
My oldest son is very big headed.
Mi hijo mayor es muy cabezón.
Like her older brother, my youngest daughter is also big headed.
Como su hermano mayor, mi hija menor también es cabezona.

Adjectives that end in -erior

Adjectives that end in -erior do not have a femine form. Consider the following example.

She is on the top deck of the boat.
Ella está en la cubierta superior del barco.
He is behind the outside wall.
Él está detrás de la pared exterior.