Adjectives Before Nouns in Spanish

Hola! Me alegra mucho estar de vuelta. I am very happy to be back podcasting about Spanish grammar! My last grammar podcasts were in June, when we covered Spanish verbs with prepositions. In this lesson, we are going to learn why the adjective sometimes goes before the noun in Spanish.

Where have I been all summer?

I also host the Medical Spanish Podcast and with the help of my Spanish teacher from the San Pedro Spanish School, Elizabeth Cortez and my friend and interpreter, Sonja Um-Siri, I have been busy making audio lessons that cover Spanish for prenatal care. We cover a lot of grammar in the medical Spanish lessons and they are made to help us communicate with our patients. Therefore, even non-medical providers understand them and find them useful for learning conversational Spanish.

What motivated me to start podcasting about Spanish grammar again?

I just took part in an incredible course called Deliberate Spanish offered by a guy named Nacho from Spain. He also has a  fantastic YouTube channel: NachoTime Spanish.  As the name implies, the Deliberate Spanish course taught me to be more deliberate when I practice Spanish. For example, instead of just watching Casa de Flores, I often make it into a study session. When I hear a new word or phrase, I write it down to study later.  Then I organize what I learn into mi cuaderno de dudas, and mi cuaderno de dudas has now become the inspiration for the Spanish Grammar Podcast!

Why does the adjective sometimes go before the noun?


Now let’s talk about adjectives and the where and why of adjective placement. When you are first learning Spanish, you learn that the you must place the adjective after the noun. However, as you advance in your Spanish-speaking ability, you start to notice that the adjective often goes before the noun.  You may even find yourself instinctively placing an adjective before a noun, but when you stop to wonder why, you can’t say. Well, in this lesson, we are going to learn why the adjective sometimes goes before the noun through interactive examples. I hope you find it helpful. Onward!

Inherent Characteristic


Usually adjectives follow the nouns they describe, but when an adjective describes an inherent or assumed quality it is usually placed before the noun.

The city is covered in WHITE snow.
La ciudad está cubierta de BLANCA nieve.

OJO: Note the use of the preposition DE in this phrase: “cubierta de nieve.”

I want to see the TALL building of New York.
Quiero ver los ALTOS edificios de Nueva York.

Be careful in the STRONG mountain winds.
Ten cuidado con el FUERTE viento de las montañas.

OJO: Note the use of the preposition CON in this phrase: “ten cuidado con….”

We must take advantage of this PRECIOUS life.
Hay que aprovechar esta PRECIOSA vida.

OJO: Note the absence a preposition after APROVECHAR: “aprovechar esta vida”

In all the above examples, the adjective adds unnecessary information. O sea… If you omit the adjective, the meaning of the sentence would not change.

Subjective, Opinion


Adjectives may also precede the nouns they describe when they reflect a subjective characteristic or opinion about something.

I love these BEAUTIFUL gardens.
Me encantan estos hermosos jardines.

I’m enjoying a WONDERFUL day.
Estoy disfrutando de un MARAVILLOSO día.

It left me with this LONG scar.
Me dejó con esta LARGA cicatriz.

They always have GOOD parties.
Los Hernandez siempre tienen BUENAS fiestas.

I have GOOD news.
Tengo BUENAS noticias.

Qualifying something as the BEST or WORST

It’s the WORST movie of 2008.
Es la PEOR película del 2008.

It’s the BEST coffee in town.
Es el MEJOR café de la ciudad.

Followinng the Exclamation QUÉ


Often we give our opinion about something in an exclamation preceded by the word “qué.” In this case, the adjective falls before the noun.

What a beautiful country.
¡Qué hermoso país!

What a cute puppy!
¡Qué lindo cachorro!

However, when you throw in an adverb, such as más or tan, the adjective then follows the noun.

What a cute puppy! (más)
¡Qué cachorro más lindo!

What a boring lesson! (tan)
¡Qué lección tan aburrida!



When we use adjectives to describe the quantity of something we place them before the nouns.

We have SOME books.
Tenemos ALGUNOS libros.

The snow covers the ENTIRE city.
La nieve cubre TODA la ciudad.

You have a LOT of patience.
Tienes MUCHA paciencia.

I don’t have ENOUGH time.
No tengo SUFICIENTE tiempo.

As in many of the examples in the earlier sections, you could also place SUFICIENTE after the noun here.

I have LITTLE energy today.
Tengo POCA energía hoy.

I’m looking for ANOTHER opportunity.
(Busco o) Estoy buscando OTRA oportunidad.

Turn right at the FIRST stoplight.
Gire / Doble a la derecha en el PRIMER semáforo.

I’m carrying TOO MANY books.
Llevo DEMASIADOS libros.

I have SEVERAL ideas.
Tengo VARIAS ideas.

Gracias por escuchar y Hasta la próxima.

Si tienes alguna pregunta, no dudes en dejar un comentario.

  • Thank you! Very useful lesson and well-presented – clear and concise with great examples that promote active learning.

    • Thank you so much Penny! I really appreciate you taking the time to let me know that you enjoyed it!

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