Shortened Adjectives in Spanish: “buen, gran…”

Welcome 😊 to our grammar lesson on shortened adjectives in Spanish.

There are several adjectives in Spanish that have a shortened form. These shortened forms are called “apócopes”. We use them in sentences where certain conditions are met.

Example in Spanish: in some cases, the short-form "buen" replaces "bueno"
“buen” is the shortened form of “bueno”

By the end of this lesson, you will be able to use these forms correctly in sentences.

You will also find a Quiz and an Exercise to practice.

Adjectives with a shortened form

This table show the most common adjectives that have a shortened form:

AdjectiveShort FormMeaning
grandegranbig, great
unounone, a
algunoalgúnsome, any
ningunoningúnnon, any
cualquieracualquierany one, any

When do we use the shortened forms?

It depends on the specific adjective:

  • Some are shortened only before a masculine singular noun
  • Others are shortened before any singular noun

Let’s take the adjective “bueno”.  “Bueno” is only shortened when it is placed before a masculine singular noun:

Este es un buen coche.
This is a good car.

But not before a feminine singular noun:

Es una buena chica.
She’s a good girl.

And of course, not before a plural noun:

Son buenos chicos.
They are good kids.

Adjectives we shorten only before a masculine singular noun

bueno → buen

Este es un buen coche.
This is a good car.

malo → mal

Es un mal libro.
It is a bad book.

uno → un

Tenemos un gato.
We have a cat.

primero → primer 

Vivo en el primer piso.
I live on the 1st floor.

decimoprimero → decimoprimer

Vivo en el decimoprimer piso.
I live on the 11th floor.

tercero → tercer

Vivo en el tercer piso.
I live on the 3rd floor.

decimotercero → decimotercer

Vivo en el decimotercer piso.
I live on the 13th floor.

alguno → algún

¿Tienes algún consejo?
Do you have any advice?

ninguno → ningún

No conozco ningún parque en esta ciudad.
I don’t know any park in this town.

Adjectives we shorten before any singular noun

grande → gran

Mi primo tiene un gran barco.
My cousin has a big/great boat. (masculine singular noun)

Es una gran casa.
It is a big/great house. (feminine singular noun)

cualquiera → cualquier

Leería cualquier libro.
I would read any book. (masculine singular noun)

Dame cualquier revista.
Give me any magazine. (feminine singular noun)



Take this Quiz about shortened adjectives:

Exercise 1

Fill the gaps with adjectives to complete the sentences. In each case, consider whether you need a shortened form.

Click on the gray spaces to see the solutions:

1) Este ordenador es bueno.
This computer is good.

2) Es un buen ordenador.
It’s a good computer.

3) Tu primo es un gran tipo.
Your cousin is a great guy.

4) El barco es grande.
The boat is big.

5) Son grandes barcos.
They are big/great ships.

Exercise 2

More sentences!:

6) Esta es la tercera vez que cuento la historia.
This is the third time I tell the story.

7) El tercer día de nuestro viaje, visitamos Madrid.
On the third day of our trip, we visited Madrid.

8) El primer hombre en la Luna fue Neil Armstrong.
The first man on the Moon was Neil Armstrong.

9) La primera mujer en el espacio fue Valentina Tereshkova.
The first woman in space was Valentina Tereshkova.

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