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.
Mira ese perrazo. Yo no me acercaría a él.Look at that big dog. I wouldn't go near him.
Han comprado una casaza de lujo en otro barrio.They have bought a mega luxurious house in another neighbourhood.
¡Qué relampagazos!What incredible lightning!
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:
Me di un cabezazo y me mareé.I hit my head and got dizzy.
El hombre daba manotazos a todo el mundo que se acercaba.The man was hitting everyone who approached him with his hands.
Como no te vayas, te voy a dar un paraguazo.If you don't go away, I will hit you with my umbrella.
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:
la manota (big hand) turns into "dar un manotazo/dar manotazos"
¡Qué tazón de café me he tomado esta mañana!I had a really big cup of coffee this morning!
¿Viste el peliculón de anoche en la primera cadena?Did you watch the fantastic movie that was on channel 1 last night?
La prima de Susana es una solterona de 55 años.Susana's cousin is a 55-year-old spinster.
¡Qué hinchazón tienes en la cara! ¿Te ha picado una avispa?What a big bump/swelling you have on your face! Have you been stung by a wasp?
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:
Mi perro es muy juguetón y le encantan los niños.My dog is very playful (tends to play a lot) and he loves children.
Mis amigas son muy ligonas. Siempre tienen chicos a su alrededor.My friends are very flirtatious. Guys hang around them all the time. (They tend to flirt and attract guys)
Tu novio es guapo pero tiene una narizota...Your boyfriend is handsome but he has a big nose...
Javier tiene muchos amigotes en la universidad.Javier has lots of friends at the university.
Acabo de ver a Lisa y llevaba unas gafotas que no le favorecían.I just saw Lisa and she was wearing some big ugly glasses that didn't suit her.
Tus hijos están muy grandotes. Han crecido un montón.Your children are very big (got very big). They have grown a lot.
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:
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