Short-Form Adjectives in Spanish: BUEN, GRAN…

Spanish Short Form Adjectives

Welcome to our grammar lesson about Short-Form Adjectives in Spanish.

There are several adjectives in Spanish that, when placed right before a noun, become shorter than they normally are. This shorter forms are called “apócopes”.

Example:

El chico es bueno.
The kid is good.

Es un buen chico.
He’s a good kid. (here, the adjective is placed right before the noun, “chico”, and because of that it becomes short-form)


In this lesson we will learn all about Short-Form Adjectives in Spanish and their use, providing example sentences. At the end you’ll find a Quiz and an Exercise for practice.

1. Influence of gender and number

The Spanish adjectives that are affected by this phenomenon can only become shorter when they are placed right before a noun.

However, we must divide them in two groups:

  • Some adjectives become shorter only before masculine singular nouns.
  • Other adjectives become shorter before singular nouns, regardless of gender.


To illustrate this point, let’s take the adjective “bueno”.  For “bueno” specifically, the shortening happens only before masculine singular nouns:

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

There is no shortening before feminine singular nouns.

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

And of course, no shortening before plural nouns:

Son buenos chicos.
They are good kids.


We will now see the specific adjectives that belong to each group.

2. Adjectives that become shorter only 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.

santo → san

Only for names of male saints, except those beginning with “To-” or “Do-” (Santo Tomás, Santo Domingo…)

Es san Rafael.
He is Saint Raphael.

3. Adjectives that become shorter before singular nouns, regardless of gender

grande → gran

Mi primo tiene un gran barco.
My cousin has a big ship.

Es una gran casa.
It is a big house.

cualquiera → cualquier

Leería cualquier libro.
I would read any book.

Dame cualquier revista.
Give me any magazine.

4. Practice Short-Form Adjectives

Quiz

Take this short Quiz to test your knowledge about Spanish Short-Form Adjectives:

Exercise

In the following sentences, the adjectives in brackets are all in masculine singular form. Fill the gaps in your mind or on a piece of paper, using the adjective in the right gender and number for that sentence. Sometimes you need to use short-forms!

After completing the exercise, check the solutions below:

Este ordenador es muy ______ 1.(bueno).
Es un ______ 2. (bueno) ordenador.
Tu primo es un ______ 3.(grande) tipo.
El barco es muy ______ 4.(grande).
Es la ______ 5.(tercero) vez que te cuento la historia.
El ______ 6.(tercero) día de nuestro viaje, visitamos Madrid.
Estas tijeras son ______ 7.(malo). Son ______ 8.(malo) tijeras.
Neil Armstrong fue el ______ 9.(primero) hombre en el espacio. Y la _____ 10.(primero) mujer fue Valentina Tereshkova.

Solutions to the Exercise: 1 = bueno, 2 = buen, 3 = gran, 4 = grande, 5 = tercera, 6 = tercer, 7 = malas, 8 = malas, 9 = primer, 10 = primera