Short-Form Adjectives in Spanish: “buen, gran…”

Short form Adjectives in Spanish - buen gran

Welcome to our grammar lesson about short-form adjectives in Spanish.

There are several adjectives in Spanish that have a shortened form, which we must use in some circumstances.

This shortened forms are called “apócopes”.

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


In this lesson we will learn all about Spanish short-form adjectives, and read example sentences.

At the end you’ll find a Quiz and an Exercise for practice.

Adjectives that have a short form

The following table show the most important Spanish adjectives that have a shortened form:

AdjectiveShort FormMeaning
grandegranbig, great
buenobuengood
malomalbad
unounone, a
algunoalgúnsome, any
ningunoningúnnon, any
cualquieracualquierany one, any
primeroprimerfirst
decimoprimerodecimoprimereleventh
tercerotercerthird
decimotercerodecimotercerthirteenth

When do we use the shortened forms?

Not all adjectives with a shortened form behave in the same way:

  • Some adjectives are shortened only before masculine singular nouns.
  • Other adjectives are shortened before all singular nouns, regardless of gender.


To illustrate this point, let’s take the adjective “bueno”.  “Bueno” is only shortened when placed before a masculine singular noun:

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

The shortening doesn’t happen before a feminine singular noun:

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

And of course, it doesn’t happen before a plural noun:

Son buenos chicos.
They are good kids.


Adjectives we shorten before masculine singular nouns

bueno → buen

Es un buen coche.
It 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 all singular nouns, regardless of gender

grande → gran

Mi primo tiene un gran barco.
My cousin has a big ship. (before a masculine singular noun)

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


cualquiera → cualquier

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

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

Practice

Quiz

Take this short Quiz to test your knowledge about short-form adjectives:


Exercise

Fill the gaps with adjectives to complete the sentences. Consider whether you need a short form or not for each case:

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

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

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

4) El barco es muy __.
The ship is very big.

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

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

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

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

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

Solutions:
1) bueno
2) buen
3) gran
4) grande
5) grandes
6) tercera
7) tercer
8) primer
9) primera