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bueno, malo, grande become buen, mal, gran before a noun (apócope)

Most adjectives usually come after a noun but the singular masculine adjectives bueno (good) and malo (bad) have special short forms - buen and mal - which can be used before the noun. They have a slightly stronger meaning when used like this.

See and listen to these examples:

Mi padre es un hombre bueno.
My dad is a good man.

Mi padre es un buen hombre.
My dad is a good man.

He tenido un día malo.
I have had a bad day.

He tenido un mal día.
I have had a bad day.

Similarly, grande (big), has a short-form gran which can also be used before the noun. Unlike buen and mal, gran can also be used with feminine nouns.

Gran has a more figurative meaning of great or fantastic when used like this.

Nueva York es una ciudad grande.
New York is a big city.

Nueva York es una gran ciudad.
New York is a great/fantastic city.

Silvia tiene un gran corazón.
Silvia has a big/generous heart. 

Note: The general term for short forms like these is "apócope".


NB: The plural forms stay the same even if used before the noun. For example:

Tengo buenos recuerdos de mi infancia.
I have good memories of my childhood.

Lucía y Raquel son chicas buenas.
Lucía and Raquel are good girls.

En Oxford y Salamanca hay muy buenas universidades.
Oxford and Salamanca have very good universities.

 

 

Learn more about these related Spanish grammar topics

Examples and resources

He tenido un mal día.
I have had a bad day.


Nueva York es una gran ciudad.
New York is a great/fantastic city.


Tengo buenos recuerdos de mi infancia.
I have good memories of my childhood.


Mi padre es un hombre bueno.
My dad is a good man.


Lucía y Raquel son chicas buenas.
Lucía and Raquel are good girls.


Mi padre es un buen hombre.
My dad is a good man.


En Oxford y Salamanca hay muy buenas universidades.
Oxford and Salamanca have very good universities.


Silvia tiene un gran corazón.
Silvia has a big/generous heart. 


He tenido un día malo.
I have had a bad day.


Nueva York es una ciudad grande.
New York is a big city.


Micro kwiz: bueno, malo, grande become buen, mal, gran before a noun (apócope)
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Q&A

Ross

Kwiziq community member

16 November 2017

1 reply

Mala would normally follow the noun? Una mala influencia??

Inma

Kwiziq language super star

17 November 2017

17/11/17

Hola Ross,
adjectives in Spanish are generally positioned after the nouns but sometimes they can be placed in front. This is normally to emphasise the meaning. : ))
Getting that for you now.