Grammar Glossary for Spanish Students

red car
Mi coche es rojo. (My car is red.). Photo by Ben; licensed via Creative Commons.

Definition: The part of speech that is used to modify, describe, limit, qualify or otherwise affect the meaning of a noun or noun phrase. In English, the adjective typically is used in one of two ways: 1) It can be placed immediately before the noun it refers to. Thus in the phrase "green house," "green" is an adjective that affects the meaning of "house," a noun. 2) It can be placed after a verb to help specify the nature of the verb's subject.

Thus in the sentence "the house is green," "green" is an adjective that affects the meaning of "house."

In Spanish, adjectives can be used in the same ways. Additionally, in Spanish, descriptive adjectives are typically placed after the nouns they refer to. Thus, "green house" would typically be translated as casa verde, with verde being the adjective that affects the meaning of casa.

Among the types of adjectives are descriptive adjectives, which tell what something is like; demonstrative adjectives, which point to a noun, as in "that house" or aquella casa; and possessive adjectives, which indicate belonging, as in "my house" or mi casa. Some grammarians consider articles ("a," "an" and "the" in English; un, una, el, lalos, las and sometimes lo in Spanish) to be a type of adjective. In Spanish, nearly all adjectives must match the nouns they refer to in gender and number.

Also Known As: adjetivo in Spanish

Examples: English adjectives include the boldfaced words in these sentences: My car is red. I am happy. She has two new computers. Spanish adjectives include the boldfaced words in these equivalent sentences: Mi coche es rojo. Estoy feliz. Tiene dos ordenadores nuevos.