Adjectives of Quantity

Spanish for Beginners

chevere-shoes.jpg
¿Tienes algunos zapatos? (Do you have any shoes?). Photo by Trinitro Tolueno; licensed via Creative Commons.

How many? How much? Unless you can answer with numbers, to respond to questions like that you'll probably need to use one of the adjectives of quantity.

An example of an adjective of quantity in English is "many" in the phrase "many dogs." The adjective comes before the noun and tells how many. It is the same in Spanish, muchos perros. where muchos is the adjective of quantity.

Like most other nondescriptive adjectives, adjectives of quantity usually come before the noun they refer to (just as in English), or they can come after a copulative verb. And like other adjectives, they must match the nouns they refer to in number and gender.

Here are the most common adjectives of quantity with examples of how they are used:

  • algún, alguna, algunos, algunas — some, any — Alguna vez, voy al centro. (Some time, I will go downtown.) Pasaron algunos coches de policía. (Some police cars passed.) ¿Tienes algunos zapatos? (Do you have any shoes?) Nearly all the time, the English "any" in sentences such as the example is left untranslated into Spanish. For example, "Are there any watermelons?" becomes ¿Hay sandías?
  • ambos, ambas — both — Ambas compañías crearán una empresa internacional. (Both companies will create an international enterprise.)
  • bastante, bastantes — enough, sufficient — En mi ciudad hay bastantes iglesias. (In my city there are enough churches.)
  • mucho, mucha, muchos, muchas — much, many — Los medios de comunicación tienen mucho poder. (Communications media have much power.) Ella tiene muchos gatos. (She has many cats.) — Typically, this word is translated as "much" when singular and "many" when plural. In informal usage, you also can translate as "a lot of."
  • ningún, ninguna — no — Ninguna persona será atacada or ridiculizada. (No person will be attacked or ridiculed.) In Spanish, it is far less common to use ninguno or ninguna as an adjective than to use no as an adverb with the main verb, thus negating the entire sentence. Thus, "I have no shoes" would typically be stated as no tengo zapatos.
  • poco, poca, pocos, pocas — small, little or slight; few — Hay poco pan. (There is little bread.) Hay pocas uvas. (There are a few grapes.)
  • suficiente — enough, sufficient — Tenemos equipos suficientes para las inspecciones. (We have enough teams for the inspections.) Bastante is more frequently used than suficiente. Suficiente frequently follows the noun.
  • tanto, tanta, tantos, tantas — so much, so many — Jamás había comido tanto queso. (He had never eaten so much cheese.) En América Latina nunca han existido tantos pobres como ahora. (In Latin America there never have existed so many poor people as now.)
  • todo, toda, todos, todas — each, every, all — Todo americano lo sabe. (Every American knows it.) Todos los perros van al cielo. (All dogs go to heaven.) Use of todo or toda in singular form as an adjective isn't particularly common. Todos or todas is quite often used in plural form before the definite article, as in the example.
  • unos, unas — some — Unos gatos son mejores cazadores que otros. (Some cats are better hunters than others.)
  • varios, varias — several — Javier tenía varios coches. (Javier had several cars.)

Note that many of these adjectives are frequently used as other parts of speech, especially pronouns and adverb. For example, poco can also function as an adverb meaning "not." For example: Es poco inteligente. (She's unintelligent.)

Sample Sentences Using Adjectives of Quantity

Hemos reunido muchas firmas, pero no son bastantes para hacer la petición. (We have gathered many signatures, but they aren't enough to make the petition valid.)

Necesitamos observe lo que ningún ojo puede ver. (We need to observe what no eye can see.)

¿Tiene este hombre tantos amigos como enemigos? (Does this man have as many friends as enemies?)

Los padres nuevos suelen preguntar si sus bebés dormirán toda la noche alguna vez. (New parents keep on asking if their babies will sleep all night some time.)