Short Form Adjectives in Spanish

Short form adjectives ("apócopes") are descriptive adjectives that are shortened when placed before a singular, masculine noun. Short form adjectives are used in Spanish to help improve pronunciation and ensure phrases flow smoothly. Consider the following examples.
It's a good dog.
Es un buen perro.
bueno → buen
He is the third player.
Él es el tercer jugador.
tercero → tercer
Don't be a bad man.
No seas un mal hombre.
malo → mal
He was my first friend.
Él fue mi primer amigo.
primero → primer

Common Short Form Adjectives

Only certain adjectives are shortened when they precede a singular masculine noun – and you'll need to memorize them. To create the short form adjective, simply drop the -o ending. The following is a list of the most common short form adjectives in Spanish.

English Adjective
Spanish Short Form Adjective
good
buen
bueno → buen
one, a
un
uno → un
bad
mal
malo → mal
first
primer
primero → primer
final, last
postrer
postrero → postrer
third
tercer
tercero → tercer
some
algún
alguno → algún
none
ningún
ninguno → ningún
great, large
gran
grande → gran
any, whatever
cualquier
cualquiera → cualquier
one hundred
cien
ciento → cien


The following are other common short form adjectives in Spanish.

Saint Francis
San Francisco
Saint Peter
San Pedro
Saint Thomas
Santo Tomás
The whole blessed day.
Todo el santo día.


"Grande" is another interesting short form adjective. It is shortened when it comes before any feminine or masculine singular noun – and it doesn't have to come right before a noun, it is shortened even if their is an interceding word. However, when "grande" is used in an eclamatory with "cuán", a superlative with "más" or with other adjectives, it is not shortened. Consider the following examples.

He works in a great city.
Él trabaja en una gran ciudad.
She is a great magician.
Ella es un gran mago.
It's the last great book in the series.
Es el gran último libro de la serie.
It's the biggest party in the province.
Es la más grande fiesta de la provincia.
It's the biggest cake in the store.
Es la más grande torta en la tienda.
How big the house is!
¡Cuán grande es la casa!
The big and spectacular festival.
El gran y espectacular festival.