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Adjectives: Differences in English and Spanish

In English, adjectives are always spelled the same and, syntactically, are almost always placed before the noun. In Spanish, there are a few that are generally unchangeable, but the majoirty aren’t, and nearly all of them denote the number of the subject (singular or plural).

Its expressive value differs depending on if it is placed before or after the noun. In Spanish, the post-positive adjective limits the meaning of the noun while attributive adjectives enhances it. When the word order is copied from English and the adjective is placed before the noun, it gives the sentence an ornamental (when an already-implicit characteristic is cited) or figurative use. The adjective does not always qualify all of the nouns that follow it. The separation of of two adjectives by a comma, which is so common in English, bestows an expressive value on them in Spanish.

Another syntactic characteristic of English is ease in making adjectives out of nouns. A perfect example of the flexibility in creating adjectives in English is its capacity of composition by using hyphens.
This ability to generate adjectives in English, reinforced by the existence of suffixes, allows for the natural creation of new words, including from proper names or name brands.

The position of adjectives is decided by a set of rules and uses that go from strictly fixed in the case of stereotyped constructions to the subtleties of hings related to euphony and rhythm. Some adjectives go after, like those dealing with relations, which turn into a complementary noun of name, or those of color and nationality. Others are placed before, which can depend on what kind of expressive value you wish to give them. And others, such as adjectives of size, can be joined to the noun and be qualified as a suffix.