Big or small? Speak like a Spanish native speakers with Spanish suffixes

Big or Small? Speak like a Spanish NATIVE speakers with SUFFIXES

Amanda, ¿por qué tú nunca estás feliz?
(Amanda, why are you never happy?)

Yo soy feliz, soy felizmente seria.
(I am happy, I am happily serious.)

These Spanish suffixes or endings like “-mente“, “felizmente“, can sound tedious. Actually, they are an excellent way to learn how to use pieces that transform one word into another because they are always repetitive!

I’m Maura from Spring Spanish, and today we are going to review three of the most common suffixes. It’s going to be super useful and not at all as boring as it sounds. I promise.

Let’s start!

1. -mente turns adjectives into adverbs

Amanda already started with “-mente”. “-mente” is almost always “-ly” in English. Like:

  • Felizmente” means “happily”.

-mente” turns adjectives into adverbs.

Look for it in the following dialogue:

Evidentemente yo soy una persona seria, pero eso no significa que no esté feliz.
(Evidently I’m a serious person, but that doesn’t mean I’m not happy.)

Es verdad, solo que no es evidente que estés feliz y por eso dudaba.
(It’s true, it’s just that it’s not evident that you’re happy and that’s why I was doubting it.)

¿No crees que ser pueda estar seriamente feliz?
(Don’t you think you can be seriously happy?)

¡Claro que sí!
(Of course I do!)

I remember perfectly when I started to see these movable pieces in English. It’s not only useful for finding the right word. It is also useful for inventing words and resolving moments.

Here are more examples of adverbs that end in “-mente”:

  • Rápido rápida (quick) → rápidamente (quickly):

It’s important to note that if the word has a gender, like “rápido” or “rápida”, we use the feminine version, “rápida”, and we add the ending. “Rápidamente” in this case.

  • Ella es una persona muy rápida. (She is a very fast person.)
  • Ella lo hace todo rápidamente. (She does everything quickly.)
  • Claro clara (clear) → claramente (clearly)
    • Qué clara está la noche. (How clear the night is.)
    • Explícame claramente por favor. (Explain it to me clearly please.)
  • Perfecto perfecta (perfect) → perfectamente (perfectly)
    • Salió todo perfecto. (Everything turned out perfect.)
    • Te escucho perfectamente. (I hear you perfectly.)
  • Fácil (easy) → fácilmente (easily)

Fácil” doesn’t have a gender, so there’s nothing to think about here. Just add “-mente” and that’s it.

  • Todo es más fácil si disfrutas el proceso. (Everything is easier if you enjoy the process.)
  • Fácilmente cometemos errores si estamos distraídos. (We easily make mistakes if we are distracted.)

2. -ote/a enlarges nouns

I have to ask you a favor with this suffixes thing, but we’ll talk about that at the end.

Qué grandote es ese lápiz.
(That’s a big pencil.)

¿Verdad? Es lindo. Lo compré en un museo.
(Isn’t it? It’s nice. I bought it at a museum.)

¿Es de color?
(Is it colored?)

Sí. Tenían muchos lapizotes como este de diferentes colores.
(Yes. They had many big pencils like this one in different colors.)

Keep in mind that we would use “-ote” for masculine and “-ota” for feminine. This is added to nouns, the proper names of things, to enlarge them. For example:

  • Boca → bocota
    • Cierra la boca. (Shut your mouth.)
    • Yo y mi bocota. (Me and my big mouth.)
  • Cabeza → cabezota
    • Me duele la cabeza. (My head hurts.)
    • Él es muy cabezota. (He is very big headed.): to say that someone is “cabezota” usually means that he or she is very stubborn. We could say he is “hard-headed” and it would mean the same thing.
spanish suffixes examples explained by female teacher
  • Casa → casota
    • Qué bonita es tu casa. (How pretty is your house.)
    • Yo creo que tienen mucho dinero porque viven en una casota. (I think they have a lot of money because they live in a big house.)
  • Vaso → vasote
    • Necesitaba un vaso no un vasote. (I needed a glass not a big glass.)

There’s a song by Bad Bunny that says: “tú no eres bebesita, tú eres bebesota.” I can’t tell you that I love the song, but it is a very good example of this.


“Yo y mi bocota” (Me and my big mouth) is a chunk that I used all the time. When I was a teenager I always got in trouble for saying something I shouldn’t have said. And then I used this chunk. I must thank maturity for saving me from my big mouth.

Check out the link in the box, if you haven’t done so before, to get our chunking kit. It’s a “kitote” full of essential “chunkotes” in Spanish.

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3. -ito/a makes nouns smaller

The opposite of “-ote” / “-ota” would be “-ito” / “-ita”. With this, you make things tinier. Like:

Habría sido lo máximo si hubieran tenido un lapicito.
(It would have been the best if they had had a little pencil.)

Jajaja, total. Hubiera comprado un grandote y uno pequeñito.
(Hahaha, total. I would have bought a big one and a little one.)

Se habrían visto súper cuchis juntos.
(They would have looked super cute together.)

It’s possible that you hear certain people use “-ico” instead of “-ito”, but that’s just a variation of the same thing. Just like “-ote”/“-ota”, these “-ito”/“-ita” are used with nouns or proper names. Let’s make more small things:

  • Carro → carrito
    • Donde vivo no hace falta tener carro. (Where I live there’s no need to have a car.)
    • Yo solía tener un carrito. Un Clio que era súper chiquito y lindo. (I used to have a small car. A Clio that was super small and cute.)
  • Pequeño/a → pequeñito/a
    • Incluso la palabra pequeño puede hacerse más pequeña. (Even the word small can be made smaller.)
    • Solo dame un mordisco pequeñito. (Just give a very small bite.)

Now, sometimes these “-ito”/”-ita” are used as to create terms of endearment. We do the same and add it at the end. Only that it is more to sweeten a word, than to make it small. For example:

  • Cariño → cariñito
    • Es importante hacerle cariño a tus mascotas. (It is important to pet your pets.)
    • Me siento mal, hazme cariñito. (I feel bad, pet me.)
  • Sol → solecito
    • Hoy hace sol, vamos a pasear. (Today is sunny, let’s go for a walk.)
    • Sol, solecito, caliéntame un poquito. (Sun, little sun, warm me a little bit.): this song is longer. We learn it in school and sing it to keep it from raining.

4. Practice Spanish suffixes by transforming words

I had a favor to ask you, do you remember? If you’ve gotten this far, please let me know in the comments if this suffix thing is useful to you because there are many, many of them. If it’s useful to you, leave an applause emoji in the comments. It seems like a very practical topic to me, but it all depends on what you think.

Alright, now obviously it’s your turn to do a bit of puzzle work and transform the following words.

Turn these adjectives into adverbs with “-mente”:

  • Raro
    • Raramente: remember that “-mente” is added to the feminine version only.
  • Evidente
    • Evidentemente.

Evidente” doesn’t have a gender, so we just add “-mente”.

Make these nouns big with “-ote”/”-ota”

  • Perro
    • Perrote

Remember that “-ote” is for masculine and “-ota” for feminine.

  • Bandeja
    • Bandejota

Make these nouns small with “-ito”/”-ita

  • Zapato
    • Zapatito
  • Pelo
    • Pelito

More suffixes or no more suffixes? What’s your verdict? In the meantime, click here to continue with more grammar lessons. Thank you for being here and see you!

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