Adjective Types

There are two more types of adjectives that are placed in front of the noun. Possessives and demonstratives are very specific types of adjectives that are extremely useful. It is imperative to learn how to use possessive adjectives and demonstrative adjectives to even approach mastery in the language. Luckily, they are very easy to learn.

Possessive adjectives indicate the owner of the noun they modify. They are usually placed in front of the noun and must match the gender and number of the noun they describe, not the gender and number of the owner of the noun. Table 1 provides a complete list.

The order of the adjectives is the same as the order of the pronouns referring to the owner. If the person who owns it is yo, the possessive adjective is mi or mis. If the owner is tú, the possessive adjective is tu or tus. If the owner is él, ella, or usted, the possessive adjective is su or sus. Just remember that the number of the adjective matches the number of the noun being owned, not the owner. Once you decide to use the adjective su,you only make it plural if it is in front of a plural noun. It doesn't matter how many people own the noun. If they own a book, “their book” is written su libro. If he owns many books, “his books” is written sus libros.

It's also tricky because the possessive adjective su is used to mean his, her, their, and your. Remember that él, ella and usted share the same conjugated form of the verb, and they also share the same possessive adjective. If you ( usted) own a book “your book” is written su libro. If you ( ) own a book, “your book” is written tu libro.

Notice that the subject pronoun  has an accent and means “you.” The possessive adjective tu has no accent and means “your.” Since nuestro and vuestro end in – o, they will change to match both the number and gender of the noun they modify. That is why there are four forms of these adjectives.

A different form of possessive adjective is used when it follows the noun. This most commonly occurs with a linking verb such as ser or estar, but it also can happen when the noun is preceded by an article. Notice in Table 2 that all possessive adjectives have four forms. Be careful to use the form of possession to match the gender and number of the noun it follows.

Notice in the following examples that the long form of the possessive adjective is used in conjunction with an article.

As mentioned earlier, a common usage of this version of possessive adjective is after a form of the linking verbs ser or estar. Notice that the English possessive is different when it follows a form of “to be” ( is or are). For example, “ my book” becomes “the book is mine.” In Spanish, the possessive adjectives from Table 2 are placed after the noun whether there's a linking verb or not.

Demonstrative adjectives

demonstrative adjective is a word that demonstrates the proximity or distance of the noun it modifies. This (singular) and these (plural) are used to indicate that the noun being modified is here. To indicate something is farther away– there–the demonstrative adjectives are that (singular) and those (plural).

In Spanish, you will need to indicate the gender as well as the number of the noun being modified by a demonstrative adjective. The word for this has a masculine and feminine form ( este and esta), and the word for thesehas a masculine and feminine form ( estos and estas).

The words for that ( ese, esa) and those ( esos, esas) also indicate gender and number, and are actually just like the “closer” words except that they're missing the letter t. Remember the rule with a rhyme: “ this and theseboth have t's, but that and those don't.”

Demonstrative adjectives are placed before the noun. Here are some examples:

In Spanish there are actually three distances: here, there, and far away. If you want to indicate that a noun is “way over there,” you use the singular demonstrative adjective aquel/aquella, or the plural aquellosaquellas. There is no English equivalent to these words, so it's best to translate them as “that _____ way over there” or “those _____s way over there.” The following sentences exemplify this concept. Notice that sometimes it sounds better to say “far away” instead of “way over there.”

Table 3 shows which demonstrative adjective should be used with each of the three distances, which are all adverbs.

These adverbs are a good clue as to which demonstrative adjective is appropriate for the sentence because they usually appear together, as in these examples:

Table 4 organizes all the demonstrative adjectives by gender and number. The singular feminine forms and both plural forms of all the demonstrative adjectives consistently have “normal” endings (– a, – os, – as). It is the singular masculine forms that are a bit strange: este, ese, aquel. Learning these forms is important for learning about demonstrative pronouns, and they have a form that looks like what you would expect for the singular masculine form of these adjectives.