Basic Adjectives of Emotion

Feelings Also Can Be Expressed in Other Ways

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Me gusta escuchar música cuando estoy aburrida. (I like to listen to music when I am bored.). Photo by Ana Patícia Almeida; licensed via Creative Commons.

Talking about emotions in Spanish isn't always simple. Sometimes discussion of emotions involves using the subjunctive verb mood, and sometimes emotions are expressed with idioms using the verb tener.

That said, Spanish frequently uses adjectives to express emotions much as English does. Here are the most common adjectives of emotion, along with their usual meanings, with a sample sentence for each:

  • aburrido (bored) — Me gusta escuchar música cuando estoy aburrida. I like to listen to music when I am bored.
  • enojado (angry) — Muchos estaban enojados con el gobierno. Many were angry with the government.
  • feliz (happy) — No creo que uno pueda tener una vida feliz sin algunas reglas. I don't think one can have a happy life without some rules.
  • nervioso (nervous) — El chico nervioso temblaba como una pequeña hoja. The nervous boy was trembling like a little leaf.
  • preocupado (worried) — Las madres están preocupadas por la epidemia de dengue en la región. The mothers are worried about the dengue epidemic in the region.
  • tranquilo (calm) — Estamos más tranquilos por haber recibido una explicación satisfactoria. We're calmer for having received a satisfactory explanation.
  • triste (sad) — Toda la película es triste. The whole movie is sad.

Keep in mind, as in the examples above, that the adjectives of emotion must agree with the nouns (or pronouns) they refer to. Also note that some of these words can vary in meaning somewhat depending on whether they are used with ser or estar.

Note also that it is common to express emotions in ways other than with adjectives. For example, enojarse is a verb meaning "to get angry" and preocupar is a verb meaning "to worry," and both of those are frequently used when talking about those emotions. Also, the verbal phrase tener miedo is by far the most common way to express fear. Although there is an adjective, asustado, meaning "afraid," it is more common to use the tener phrase when describing how a person feels.