8 julio, 2024

Qualifying adjectives: definition, types, what they are for, examples

What are qualifying adjectives?

The adjectives They are a kind of word that fulfills the function of indicating a quality of nouns or names. They specify their properties or characteristics and answer the question «what is it like?», agreeing on number and gender.

Examples of qualifying adjectives are «the blue sky», «the narrow street», «the thin woman», «the big house», «the hot soup», where blue, narrow, thin, big and hot are the qualifiers.

In a general sense, in grammar an adjective complements the noun and determines it. The word comes from the Latin addictivewhich means “that is added”: the adjective is added to the noun to say how it is.

What are qualifying adjectives used for?

Let us expand a little on the concept given previously. Qualifying adjectives are used to describe nouns. They express its characteristics, dimensions, color, etc., and can indicate concrete and abstract qualities.

In the example: «the sky is blue», we would have a specific qualifying adjective, since it determines that the sky is a specific color. On the other hand, when we say «an ugly man», we allude to a subjective and abstract quality, since that man will be ugly for us, but perhaps not for others.

In Spanish, adjectives must agree in number and gender with the noun, and can be placed before or after: “las blancas paredes = las paredes blancas”: walls is a feminine, plural noun; white agrees in gender and number.

A noun can be accompanied by one or more adjectives in order to further explain its characteristics. For example «the small, fat and blond man».


In our Spanish language there are some adjectives that, when placed before the noun, adopt a shortened form because they lose certain final elements. It is what is known as an apocope.

Some of the adjectives that are shortened are, for example, great, first, some, good, one, none: «a great man», «have a good trip», «I have a friend», «the first step», «some obstacle we will have”, “there is no problem”.

Types of qualifying adjectives

Qualifying adjectives can be separated into two types: specifying and explanatory.

Specific qualifying adjectives

They are the adjectives that indicate an important characteristic of the noun, without which the sentence would not be fully understood. In other words, if the adjective is removed, the meaning of the sentence is affected and weakened.

An example could be: «I like historical novels, but I prefer fantastic novels»: in the sentence, if we remove the adjective fantasticmeaning is lost. fantastic it alludes to a certain narrative genre, and for this reason it is specific.

explanatory qualifying adjectives

They are the adjectives that do not intend to add additional information, but precisely to emphasize the quality (abstract or concrete) of the noun. That is, it does not stand out from the rest, as in the following examples: «meek lamb», «fierce lion», «sweet nectar».

Lambs are supposed to be tame, lions fierce, and nectar sweet, and in this sense, these types of adjectives are used more in poetic or literary language. It is also known as an epithet, and as a general rule it is placed before the noun.

Examples of qualifying adjectives

Examples of sentences with qualifying adjectives

The woman arrived happy from the party.
The boy was sad after the fight with his brother.
The long knife pierced the meat.
The moon, giant, round, yellowish, came out of the clouds.
The young man lit a cigarette with a steady hand.
The woman had a very long nose.
The black cap covered his eyes.
The birds, swift, passed over our heads.
The hill was blurred, still too distant from the walkers.
We’ll know we’ve arrived when we come across the only old building on the street.
The fat lady got off the bus heavily.
Broken mirrors bring bad luck.
The girl seemed happy.
He took the red ribbon and finished wrapping the gift.
Natural bristle brushes are better than synthetic bristles.
Lobster is usually quite expensive, and delicious.
The colorful plumage of the birds brightened up the monotony of the afternoon.
The state of some countries, such as Syria or Venezuela, is unfortunate.
Mexican food is very rich and spicy.
The human soul is incomprehensible: we are capable of sublime acts but also of the most abominable.
What car? That, the old black car.
The ship was big and had many sails.
Christopher Columbus was a Genoese.
When I was little I really liked sweets.
There are Beatles songs that are extraordinary.
The girl ran through the silent corridors.
The rain, monotonous, fell on the roof.
Achilles, the one of the light feet.
Aphrodite thought she was the most beautiful goddess of all.
I don’t like rude people.
You have to be sensitive to understand the problems of others.
Short hair is easier to style.
The door was narrow.
The tunnel became narrow and impassable.
The brain is one of the most important organs of the human body.
Muscles that are not exercised become flaccid.
Red apples are sweeter than green ones.
A copious dinner can affect sleep hours.
You must reach the house with blue walls, and then turn the corner. There we wait for you.
Diamonds are eternal.
«I am, in this end without loneliness, a cornered animal of light» (Pablo Neruda).
When we woke up, we saw that the world had been totally destroyed.
The Basilica of the Sagrada Familia, by Antoni Gaudí, is unfinished.
He dropped the wet towel to the floor.
Don Quijote of La Mancha It is the beginning of the modern novel.
With reading we are able to travel with our minds to distant and fantastic places.
«Your laughter is the most victorious sword» (Miguel Hernández).
The house is empty, and everyone has left.
Corruption is typical of authoritarian and populist states.
He Sing of Mío Cid It is the great epic poem of the Hispanic tradition.


Forest, I. (1993). On the differences between relational and qualifying adjectives. Taken from
Forest, I., Picallo, C. (1996). Postnominal adjectives in Spanish DPs. Journal of Linguistics. Taken from jstor.org.
Adjective (2020). Taken from es.wikipedia.org.

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