7 Diminutives and aumentatives

Adding suffixes to alter the meaning of words (usually nouns) is an important feature of Spanish, especially the spoken language. As well as simply indicating size, the augmentatives and diminutives often convey particular nuances and so should be used with care by non-native speakers.

Some words which appear to be diminutives or augmentatives of other words are actually words in their own right. For example: bolsillo, although literally a small bolso (bag), is the ordinary Spanish word for “pocket”.

Diminutives

Words ending in:

Suffix

Examples

– O, – A

(take off the final letter)

+ ito(s)

+ ita(s)

libro

casa

librito

casita

a consonant, except

–N, -R

+ ito(s)

+ ita(s)

ángel

angelito

– E, -N, -R

+ cito(s)

+ cita(s)

café

sillón calor

cafecito

silloncito calorcito

one syllable word or words with a stressed diphthong

+ ecito(s)

+ ecita(s)

flor piedra

florecita piedrecita

Proper name can be made diminutive to show affection. Some names can be formed following the above rules, but some have their own diminutive forms.

Ana

Anita

Ángel

Angelito

Carmen

Carmencita

Elena

Elenita

Antonia

Toñi

Carlos

Carlitos

Concepción

Concha, Conchita

Dolores

Lola, Lolita

Enrique

Quique

Francisco

Paco, Paquito, Quico, Pancho, Curro

Jesús:

Chus, Suso

José

Pepe, Pepito

Manuel

Manolo, Manolito

María

Mari, Maruja

María Isabel

Maribel

María Jesús

Chus, Susi

María Teresa

Maite

Pedro

Perico

Pilar

Pili, Pilarín

Rafael

Rafa, Rafi

Rosa

Rosita, Rosi

Rosario

Charo

Augmentatives

Words ending in:

Suffix

Examples

a vowel

(take off the final letter)

+ ón, ona

+ azo, aza

+ ote, ota

película, casa padre, madre

libro, mano

peliculón, casona padrazo, madraza

librote, manota

Some words will change their meaning in the augmentatives:

solterona

=

spinster (single and old)

hombrazo

=

a well-built man

novelón

=

a big novel

palabrota

=

swear word

cabezota

=

very stubborn

License

Senior Spanish Copyright © by Cristian Rodriguez. All Rights Reserved.

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