The placement of adjectives in Spanish language depends on the type of description they provides and their function in the sentence.

If you need some tips to properly use adjectives, our Spanish school El Rincón del Tándem will help you with the below post. Have a look at it!

When start learning Spanish, it is quite common to speak following patterns of our native language without realizing that in each language there is a specific order for placing words in a sentence.

For instance, in English, adjectives usually precede the noun, while in Spanish adjectives can go either after or before the noun.

The proper placement depends on the type of adjectives, the function they have in the sentence and the speech style we use.

Adjectives are placed AFTER the noun in the following cases:

1. When the adjectives express certain characteristics of the noun it describe:

COLOR > un bolso negro, un pájaro azul, un bolígrafo rojo
SHAPE > una mesa redonda, un objeto rectangular, una pantalla cuadrada, una cara ovalada
ESTADO> una puerta abierta, un vaso roto, una caja vacía, un cajón cerrad
TYPE and ORIGIN > un asunto familiar, una compañera española, un encuentro internacional, un ordenador portátil.

2. To distinguish the noun the adjective refers to from others

¿Prefieres la libreta roja o la verde? = Do you prefer the red notebook or the green one?
A diferencia de su hermano, Lucía es una persona amable y respetuosa = Unlike his brother, Lucía is a kind and respectful person.

Adjectives are placed BEFORE the noun when:

1. They are possessive or demonstrative adjectives:

Mi perro se llama Tobías = My dog’s name is Tobias
Tu profesora acaba de salir de clase = Your teachers has just left the classroom
Este libro es muy entretenido = This book is very entertaining
Aquel árbol ha sido plantado hace cien años = That tree was planted a hundred years ago.

2. The adjective defines a number or a certain amount of a noun (limiting adjectives). Some of the limiting adjectives are: demasiado, poco, varios, suficiente, bastante, etc.

Necesito comprar cinco paquetes de arroz = I need to buy five bags of rice
Tengo poco dinero en la cartera = I have little money in my wallet
Tengo muchas cosas que hacer esta tarde = I have a lot of things to do this afternoon
No tengo suficiente harina para la tarta = I do not have enough flour for the cake.

3. Adjectives are ordinals or they describe the order of the noun

Mi primera experiencia de trabajo fue a los 18 = I had my firts job experience when I was 18
Este tema lo trataremos en la siguiente reunión de equipo = We will deal with this issue at the next team meeting
Su futuro marido trabaja en el teatro = Her future husband works in a theatre
La próxima vez nos vamos al cinema = Next time we will go to the cinema.

NOTE: These adjectives can be also placed AFTER the noun, when they refer to a building floor or a book chapter. For instance:

La tercera planta = la planta tercera
El segundo capítulo = el capítulo segundo

, they always go AFTER when refer to certain noun, like kings, popes, etc.
For instance: Jaume primero, Juan Pablo segundo, etc.

4. The adjectives express admiration or appreciation of the quality they express. In some cases, in the English translation we may add “very/really” before the adjective.

Pablo es un buen padre = Pablo is a very good father
Es una bonita noche = It is a very beautiful night
Julio es un gran escritor = Julio is an amazing writer.

IMPORTANT: Some adjectives can go both BEFORE and AFTER the noun, like the adjectives having a relative meaning, i.e. blando-duro, fuete-débil, largo-corto, pequeño- grande, etc.

The placement varies according to the speech style we are using. For instance, in a formal (journalistic, poetic, literary, etc.) speech style they are placed before the noun, while they come after in everyday language.

We hope our post helped you with your Spanish studies. Spanish grammar may seem difficult at first, but..do nto worry! The teachers of El Rincón del Tándem Spanish school of Valencia will explain everything to you in the best way 🙂

Till the next blog!