Imagine you are talking to a relative, a friend or a colleague. At some point, you see some cars, one of which is yours. The other person points at a red car and says to you something like: "tell me, is that red car yours?".
In Spanish, he/ she could choose to be less formal and say to you:
Dime, ¿ese coche rojo es tuyo?
On the other hand, he/ she could choose to be more formal and say to you:
Dígame, ¿ese coche rojo es suyo?
The question is an invitation for you to state whether the car in question is yours. When you state what belongs to you, you DO NOT need to be concerned about the level of formality in the other person's question. Your main concern should be about accurate communication. Perhaps you want to:
- Agree that the car in question is yours;
- Point out that your car is not the red one, but another one;
Here are some examples of how you could reply:
- Sí, el coche rojo es mío* (yes, the red car is mine);
- Sí, el coche rojo es el mío* (yes, the red car is the one which belongs to me);
- No, el coche rojo no es mío, el mío es el coche verde* (no, the red car is not mine, the one which belongs to me is the green one);
Now you should practise replying to someone who says to you:
Dime, ¿ese coche rojo es tuyo?
*Please see grammar below
In English, adjectives remain unchanged irrespective of the noun(s) they describe. In Spanish, in contrast, each adjective must agree with the noun(s) it describes. When using Spanish adjectives you should remember the following noun-adjective agreement guidelines:
1. Noun-Adjective Grammatical Gender* Agreement
In Spanish each adjective must match the grammatical gender of the noun it describes. Some examples of noun-adjective matching are:
- Chica alta (tall girl);
- Chica guapa (pretty girl);
- Chica alta y guapa (tall and pretty girl);
- Coche amarillo (yellow car);
- Casa grande* (big house);
- Árbol grande* (big tree);
- Coche azul* (blue car);
- Bandera azul* (blue flag);
*NB Please note the following guidelines about the grammatical gender of Spanish adjectives:
- Many adjectives have a common form for masculine and feminine.
- verde (green-masculine/ feminine);
- feliz (happy-masculine/ feminine);
- triste (sad-masculine/ feminine);
- Many adjectives ending in -o (masculine form) change to an -a for their feminine form. Some examples of this are:
- bonito (pretty-masculine) → bonita (pretty-feminine);
- alto (tall-masculine) → alta (tall-feminine);
- feo (ugly-masculine) → fea (ugly-feminine);
- Adjectives ending in a consonant (masculine form) can be changed to a feminine form by adding an -a to their masculine form. Some examples of this are:
- holgazán (lazy/ idle-masculine) → holgazana** (lazy/ idle-feminine);
- trabajador (hard working-masculine) → trabajadora (hard working-feminine);
- parlanchín (chatty-masculine) → parlanchina** (chatty-feminine);
**NB In cases like these, where the masculine form is spelled with an accent, the feminine form should be spelled without it.
2. Noun-Adjective Grammatical Number* Agreement
In Spanish each adjective must match the grammatical number of the noun(s) it describes. Some examples of noun-adjective matching are:
- Chicas altas (some tall girls);
- Chicas guapas (pretty girls);
- Chicas altas y guapas (tall and pretty girls);
- Coches amarillos (yellow cars);
- Casas grandes (big houses);
- Árboles grandes (big trees);
- Coches azules (blue cars);
- Banderas azules (blue flags);
- Banderas y cascos azules (blue flags and helmets);
*NB Please note the following guidelines about the grammatical number of Spanish adjectives:
- Adjectives ending in a vowel (singular masculine/ feminine forms) can be changed to a plural form by adding an -s to their singular form. Some examples of this are:
- bonito (pretty-masculine/ singular) → bonitos (pretty-masculine/ plural);
- bonita (pretty-feminine/ singular) → bonitas (pretty-feminine/ plural);
- grande (big-masculine/ singular) → grandes (big-masculine/ plural);
- holgazana (lazy-feminine/ singular) → holgazanas (lazy-feminine/ plural);
- parlanchina (chatty-feminine/ singular) → parlanchinas (chatty-feminine/ plural);
- trabajadora (hard working-feminine/ singular) → trabajadoras (hard working-feminine/ plural);
- Adjectives ending in a consonant in their masculine form can be changed to plural form by adding an -es to their masculine form**. Some examples of this are:
- holgazán (lazy-masculine/ singular) → holgazanes*** (lazy-masculine/ plural);
- parlanchín (chatty-masculine/ singular) → parlanchines*** (chatty-masculine/ plural);
- trabajador (hard working-masculine/ singular) → trabajadores (hard working-masculine/ plural);
**NB Adjectives ending in -z change the -z for a -c in the plural, for example capaz → capaces
***NB In cases like these, where the singular form is spelled with an accent, the plural form should be spelled without it.
Now you should practise using noun-adjective agreement with some examples of your own.
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