Learn about some Spanish augmentative suffixes: -azo, -ote, -ón
In Spanish, instead of adding the adjective grande (big), we commonly use the augmentative suffixes -azo, -ote, -ón. The suffix can indicate a size (a big, huge something) but very often it also denotes something extra, for example, appreciation or disdain by the speaker.
These suffixes can be added to nouns, adjectives and verbs.
Notice that when making the augmentative of a noun, the ending agrees with the noun in gender and number:
el libro -> librazo
la casa -> casaza
los relámpagos -> relampagazos
Special use of -azo
These examples above refer to intensity or size, but -azo is also used to express using an object/part of your body or hitting with a part of your body. For example:
Note, that even if the orginal word (part of the body it is referring to) is feminine, e.g cabeza, rodilla ..., the augmentative always uses -azo, not -aza: un cabezazo, not una cabezaza; un rodillazo, not una rodillaza.
Also note that to express "hitting with your hands" we normally use:
Bear in mind that the original noun is la mano (hand -feminine) but we make the augmentative here from another augmentative:
The suffixes -ón, -ona, -ones, -onas are used to emphasise the bigger size or the greater quality of something. It can also have a negative connotation, as in the case of bachelor/spinster (solterón/solterona), used in a negative way to talk about single people.
Sometimes this suffix simply denotes the tendency someone has towards something. For example:
The suffixes -ote, -ota, -otes, -otas can make reference to something being large in size, or have a negative connotation, e.g. something ugly. For example, the use of the word "amigotes" in the example above could indicate that the friends are dodgy, but this meaning depends on the speaker's intention - the suffix -otes could also refer to them being very good friends. The same thing happens with the adjective in the last example: grandotes; This could have been used in a negative way but in this case it is simply emphasising how much they've grown: they got very big.
As mentioned before, these augmentatives derive from nouns, adjectives and verbs, for example:
- película (movie) - peliculón
- amigo (friend) - amigote
- taza (cup) - tazón
- grande (big) - grandote
- jugar (to play) - juguetón
- hinchar (to swell up) - hinchazón
Note that the use of these suffixes is highly regionalised. Some are more frequently used in parts of Spain and Latin America while other suffixes may be preferred elsewhere. For example, in some places the augmentative of película would be un peliculón, but in other areas it is much more common to use un peliculazo.
See also lessons on how to use common diminutives:
- Using the diminutive suffix -ito, -ita, -itos and -itas with words ending in -o/-a/-io/-ia
- Using the diminutive suffix -illo, -cillo, -ecillo, -ececillo
- Using the Spanish diminutive suffix -cito, -cita, -citos and -citas with words ending in -e, -n, and -r
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