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Lesson 18 - Mascotas (Pets)
Navigation: Home Course Lesson 18 → Adjective placement
Pages in this lesson: Pets - Adjective placement - Dialogue - Reading - Quiz
This page: Learn about adjective placement in Spanish. Learn when to put adjectives after the noun and when to put them before the noun.

the poor man

Adjective Placement

Grammar Lesson

Adjectives are generally placed after the noun in Spanish. There are situations, however, when the adjective would go in front of the noun such as with demonstrative adjectives, possessive adjectives, numbers and indefinite adjectives. There are also adjectives that have a different meaning if they are placed before or after a noun. We will learn about each of these cases in this lesson.

Adjectives after the noun

The general rule in Spanish is that adjectives are placed after the noun. This is different from English where adjectives go before the noun.

  • Examples:
  • un libro interesante - an interesting book
  • una flor bonita - a pretty flower


Adjectives before the noun

There are situations, however, when you would put the adjective in front of the noun in Spanish. These exceptions include demonstrative adjectives, possessive adjectives, numbers and indefinite adjectives which are detailed below.

Demonstrative Adjectives

Demonstrative adjectives are words that indicate the distance of something (this/that/these/those). Demonstrative adjectives are always placed before the noun. You learned demonstrative adjectives in lesson 8.

  • Examples:
  • este libro - this book
  • esa flor - that flower
  • estos papeles - these papers

Possessive Adjectives

Possessive adjectives are words that indicate who something belongs to. Possessive adjectives are always placed before the noun. You learned possessive adjectives in lesson 3.

  • Examples:
  • mi casa - my house
  • tu libro - your book
  • nuestra clase - our class


Numbers are placed in front of the noun. You learned the numbers in lesson 2 (Numbers 1-20) and lesson 6 (Numbers up to 100).

  • Examples:
  • tres libros - three books
  • cinco estudiantes - five students
  • diez sillas - ten chairs

Indefinite Adjectives

Indefinite adjectives talk about a noun but don't give specific information. For example, they could give non-specific information about the number of things such as saying a lot, a little or some. You will be learning indefinite adjectives in Spanish in lessons 33 and 34.

  • Examples:
  • muchos libros - a lot of books
  • pocos estudiantes - a few students
  • algunas sillas - some chairs

Adjectives that have a different meaning when placed before or after the noun

Sometimes Spanish speakers place the adjective before the noun for emphasis or to convey emotion. The meaning of some adjectives even changes if they are placed before the noun.

Adjectives that have a different meaning when placed before or after the noun
Adjective Before the noun After the noun
cierto certain true, right
diferente various different, distinct
grande great big
nuevo newly-acquired (new to me) newly-made (brand new)
pobre unfortunate poor (no money)
simple mere, ordinary simple, easy
solo single (one) lonely, alone
único only unique
viejo long-time old-aged, elderly



Shortened Adjectives

Some adjectives have a shortened form when used before certain nouns.

Drop the final O

The following words drop the final letter O before singular masculine nouns.

  • bueno → buen   (good)
  • malo → mal   (bad)
  • alguno → algún   (some)
  • ninguno → ningún   (no, any)
  • primero → primer   (first)
  • tercero → tercer   (third)

Drop the -de

The word grande drops the final -de before singular nouns (both masculine and feminine).

  • grande → gran   (great)

Drop the -to

The word santo (saint) loses the final -to before all masculine names except those beginning with the letters to or do.

  • Examples:
  • San Diego
  • Santo Domingo   (Begins with the letters DO)
  • Santo Tomás   (Begins with the letters TO)



Section 1
Use the noun and adjective provided to translate the phrase to Spanish. Put the adjective in the correct form (masculine/feminine/plural/shortened) and write it in the correct position (before or after the noun). Add an article (un/una = a, el/la = the), if necessary for some of the singular nouns.

  • Examples:
  • a unique idea (idea/único) → una idea única
  • newly-made cars (carros/nuevo) - carros nuevos

1. an old (long-time) friend   (amigo/viejo)

2. a newly-made (brand new) computer   (computadora/nuevo)

3. a big house   (casa/grande)

4. an old (old in age) house   (casa/viejo)

5. various colors   (colores/diferente)

6. a new (used, but new to me) house   (casa/nuevo)

7. the only book   (libro/único)

8. a unique drawing   (dibujo/único)

9. a lonely man (a man who is alone)   (hombre/solo)

10. a simple (easy) problem   (problema/simple)

11. the poor (unfortunate) girl   (niña/poor)

12. certain classes   (clases/cierto)

13. the poor (no money) woman   (mujer/pobre)

14. a single book   (libro/solo)

15. a mere boy   (niño/simple)

16. different books   (libros/diferente)

17. a great leader   (líder/grande)


Find the Mistake

Find the mistake in the sentence and re-write it correctly in the space. Don't forget to use correct capitalization, accents and punctuation, or the computer will mark it as incorrect.

  • Example:
  • Ella son inteligente. → Ella es inteligente.

1. Hay estudiantes veinte en la clase.        

2. Es un libro sobre Santo Pedro.        

3. Es el primero libro.        

4. Ella tiene pezes como mascotas.        

5. Tengo amigos muchos.        



Write five sentences using adjectives from this lesson. If you want to type a special character (like an accented letter) in the comments section, you could do one of the following . . .

  • Select and copy the character that you need → á é í ó ú ü ñ ¿ ¡ Á É Í Ó Ú Ü Ñ « »
  • Use special codes on your computer if you have numeric keypad (instructions HERE).
  • Type your sentences into the text box below and use the special character buttons provided. Then select and copy your text and paste it into the comments section.

  Don't forget to paste your text into the comments section below!

If you see an error in someone else's sentence, please respond with the correction. Comments that are not from "Janet Castrejon" (the author of this page) do not represent Simplified Spanish. If someone is writing inappropriate comments on this webpage, please send a message to [email protected] and include the page that you saw the comment on.




Lesson 18 - Mascotas (Pets)
Pets - Adjective placement - Dialogue - Reading - Quiz




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