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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

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.


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.


Q&A

Bonnie

Kwiziq community member

12 June 2018

1 reply

My dictionary says 'hran' is only before masculine nouns, but you say m&f. Is there a difference in dialects? Got it wrong using dictionary.

Dictionary is Webster's New Spanish Dictionary with Latin American Spanish.

Inma

Kwiziq language super star

12 June 2018

12/06/18

Hola Bonnie


"Gran" can be placed before a masculine or feminine noun, for example "un gran hombre" or "una gran mujer". It is different to other short forms like "buen" where you can only place it befor a masculine noun, not a feminine noun, for example "un buen hombre" but "una buena mujer".


Saludos


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. : ))
Let me take a look at that...