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Placement of adjectives in Spanish

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The placement of Spanish adjectives strictly relies on the information they provide about the noun they modify. 

Unlike English, Spanish adjectives are generally placed after the noun. 


  • Mi hermana es una mujer bonita. (My sister is a pretty woman.)
  • Me gustan las rosas blancas. (I like white roses.)

However, there are some exceptions to this rule. 

Adjective placement exceptions

Some adjective categories do not follow the noun they modify: 

  1. Possessive and demonstrative adjectives (mi, tu, su / este, ese, aquel...)
  2. Limiting adjectives (dos, cuatro...)
  3. Intrinsic characteristics

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1. Possessive and demonstrative adjectives (mi, tu, su / este, ese, aquel...)

  • Mi hermana se llama Luisa. (My sister's name is Luisa.)
  • Este coche es muy rápido. (This car is very fast.)

2. Limiting adjectives (dos, menos, pocos...)

Limiting adjectives indicate numbers and amounts. 


  • Acabo de comerme dos trozos de tarta. (I've just eaten two slices of cake.)
  • Ayer hacía menos viento en Fuerteventura. (Yesterday it was less windy in Fuerteventura.)
  • Hay pocas fresas este verano. (There are a few strawberries this summer.)

3. Intrinsic characteristics

Descriptive adjectives which put the stress on essential features are placed before the noun. 


La valiente leona protege a sus cachorros. (The brave lioness protect her cubs.)

Meaning-changing adjectives

Some adjectives change meaning according to their placement:

  • when placed after the noun, the adjective has an objective meaning
  • when placed before the noun, the adjective has a more subjective meaning


  • BEFORE: Carmen es mi vieja amiga. (Carmen is my long-term friend.)
  • AFTER: Carmen es mi amiga vieja. (Carmen is my elderly friend.)
AdjectiveBefore the nounAfter the noun
altohigh-class tall
bajoof low qualityshort
buenosimple / goodgentle / generous
ciertocertaintrue / right
dulcegood / nicesweet
mismosamehimself / herself
nuevonewly acquirednewly made
propriohis / her ownespecially for someone
simplemeresimple / modest
viejolong-termold / aged

The shortened forms of adjectives before nouns

When placed before the noun, some adjectives have shortened forms. This change only affects the masculine form of adjectives, which tend to drop the -o when are followed by a masculine noun. 

AdjectiveShortened formExample
alguno (some)algúnalgún vaso (some glass)
bueno (good)buenbuen amigo (good friend)
malo (bad)malmal ejemplo (bad example)
ninguno (no, not any)ningúnningún hombre (no man)
primero (first)primerel primer año (the first year)
Santo (Saint)SanSan Francisco 
tercero (third)tercerel tercer capítulo (the third chapter)
uno (a, an, one)unun gato ( a cat)

enlightenedCiento appears in number 101 and higher, while the shortened form cien is used for the number one hundred before a plural noun.


  • CIENTO: Habrán ciento ochenta personas esta noche. (There will be one hundred and eighty people tonight.)
  • CIEN: José tiene sólo cien euros en el borsillo. (José only has one hundred euros in his pocket.)

Placement of more than one adjective 

More than one adjective can modify a noun. 

1. Two or more adjectives may follow the noun and they are generally linked by a conjuction or separated by a comma. 


  • Tiene un gato simpático y pequeño. (He/She has a pleasant and small cat.)
  • Su oficina está en una calle larga, angosta. (His/Her office is in a long, narrow street.)

2. In case of shortened forms or an adjective that has a different meaning if placed before or after the noun, the adjective which precedes the noun will remain in place: 


  • No quiero algún libro nuevo. (I don't want any new book.)
  • Ella es mi vieja amiga bonita. (She is my beautiful long-term friend.)


  1. Meaning-changing adjective practice quiz
  2. Placement of Spanish adjectives - Before or after the noun?
  3. Before or after the noun?

Meaning-changing adjective practice quiz

Placement of Spanish adjectives - Before or after the noun?

Before or after the noun?

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