When a word ends in -o or -a, how do we know which is preferred? When to use -illo, -illa, etc. and when to use -ito, -ita, etc.? For example, is it gatito or gatillo for a little cat? Chiquita or chiquilla for a little girl? Or are both acceptable endings? Thanks in advance for clearing this up.
The suffixes -ito/-ita and -illo/-illa are both used to make the noun "smaller" or to talk in a "cute" way about the noun/adjective. I dare say that -ito/-ita are generally more commonly used in Spain, and also that when using -illo/-illa often change the meaning of the word, for example: cuchara and cucharilla, the first meaning "spoon" and the second "teaspoon", so it may not be referring simply to a small spoon but a specific "teaspoon".
Using -ito or -illo more or less often depends on the custom in the region and the area of Spain and Latin America. Sometimes in a specific village one specific suffix is the one that everybody use there.
So, there is no good answer to this I am afraid.
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