Spanish diminutives (-ito) and augmentatives (-ote)

Exercises

  1. Spanish diminutives - Fill in the blanks
  2. Spanish diminutives and augmentatives practice quiz

When altering words to indicate smallness or show affection, this is know as diminutive. On the other side, augmentative nouns indicate something large or undesirable.

Spanish diminutives (-ito/-ita)

To form a diminutive, you need to drop the -o or -a from any noun and add -ito / -ita, which is the most common diminutive ending.

Unaltered nounDiminutive form
Gato (cat)Gatito (kitten)
Niño (child)Chiquito (cute little child)
Casa (house)Casita (little house)
Abuela (grandmother)Abuelita (little cute granny)

enlightenedHowever, if the noun ends in -r, -n or -e, the affix -cito is generally added: 

Unaltered nounDiminutive form
Ratón (mouse)Ratoncito (little mouse)
Café (coffee)Cafecito (small quantity of coffee)
Lugar (place)Lugarcito (little or beloved place)

enlightenedSome words will require spelling changes: 

Unaltered nounDiminutive form
Chica (girl)Chiquita (little girl)
Lago (lake)Laguito (little lake)
Pedazo (piece)Pedacito (little piece)

Spanish diminutives uses

The diminutives in Spanish may have the following uses: 

  1. indicating something small or unimportant
  2. indicating something or someone you are fond of
  3. making a request or asking for something politely

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1. Indicating something small or unimportant

  • Tengo una casita en un pueblo cerca de Valencia. (I have a little house in a village near to Valencia.)
  • María trabaja ene una escuelita. (María works in a little school < not a well-know one.)

2. Indicating something or someone you are fond of     

Mi abuelito se llama Miguel. (My beloved grandfather is called Miguel.)

3. Making a request or asking for something politely

  • Espere un momentito, señor. (Wait just a moment, Sir.)
  • ¿Puedo tomar un cafecito? (May I have a (little) cup of coffee, please?)

enlightenedThe diminutive form can also be used to strenghten an adverb or make changes to an adjective

  Examples: 

  • Cerca de (adv): El parque esta cerquita de mi casa. (The park is really close to my house.)
  • Gordo (adj): Te has puesto gordito! (You gained weight!)

Other Spanish diminutive endings

In addition to -ito/-ita, there are other endings which can be used to create the dimutive form of Spanish nouns: 

EndingUnaltered nounDiminutive form

-illo / -illa

-cillo / -cilla

Bolso (bag)

Calzón (shorts)

Bolsillo (pocket)

Calzoncillos (underpants)

-ete / -etaAmigo (friend)Amiguete (little friend)
-ico / -icaBeso (kiss)Besico (little kiss)
-ín / íñaChico (boy)Chiquitín (tiny tot)

Spanish augmentatives 

Unlike English, we can also augment words in Spanish, which means referring to something/someone large or giving something/somenone a derogative or pejorative meaning.

EndingUnaltered nounAugmentative 
-ón / -onaMujer (woman)Mujerona (big woman)
-ote / -otaLibro (book)Librote (big book)
-azo / -azaÉxito (success)Exitazo (great success)

-acho / -acha

-ucho / -ucha

Pueblo (village)

Abogado (lawyer)

Poblacho* (dump town)

Abogaducho (inept lawyer)

-udo / -udaCabeza (head)Cabezudo (big head)

enlightenedThe -ón augmentative ending is not to be confused with nouns ending in -ón.

  Examples: 

  •   El rincón (corner)
  •   La razón (reason)

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*Please note the radical change from -ue to -o. This is an exception, since in derivation radical changes not always occur.