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Spanish Eyes, English Words

A blended blog - Spanish life and culture meets English freelancer who often gets mistaken for Spanish senora. It's the eyes that do it, rather than the command of the language. Anything can and probably will happen here.

Did you apocopate today?
13 March 2013 @ 08:44

It's okay - admit it if you did. It's not illegal, and it won't frighten the horses, so apocopate as much as you like. Apocopation is the shortening of certain adjectives when they precede masculine nouns in Spanish. Apart from a couple of exceptions, apocopation never occurs with feminine nouns, so to remind yourself when to apocopate, just say to yourself 'Cut a bit off the male.' It works for me, but it might make masculine eyes water by association!

If you've been speaking Spanish for a while, you've probably been apocopating without even realising it. For example, if you're out for a snack at lunchtime, you'll ask for 'un bocadillo,' but if you want to eat healthy, you may ask for 'una ensalada.' The masculine 'uno' is the most common example of apocopation, and if you speak a little Spanish each day, you're almost certain to have used the shortened form.

'Bueno' is another common adjective that gets shortened with masculine nouns. When the waiter brings your bocadillo or ensalada - depending on whether you've gone for filling power or a healthy option - he'll say 'buen provecho.' However, if he was selling you a Euromillions lottery ticket., it would be 'buena suerte,' because suerte - meaning luck - is feminine, so there are no bits to cut off.

These are the most common short form adjectives:


  • bueno - buen (good)
  • malo - mal (bad)
  • postrero - postrer (final, last)
  • uno - un (one, a)
  • primero - primer (first)
  • tercero - tercer (third)
  • alguno - algún (some)
  • ninguno - ningún (none)

Other short form adjectives are grande, which becomes 'gran' when preceding both masculine and feminine nouns, ciento becomes 'cien' in certain instances, and cualquiera - meaning 'any' or 'whatever' loses the 'a' at the end.


This is Spanish we're talking, so there always has to be something completely different. In the case of apocopation. it's the word 'santo.' This is only shortened when preceding certain proper nouns, but not those beginning with 'do' or 'to.' So you'd say San Juan, but Santo Tomas. For more about apocopation, and to take a fun quiz to test your new-found knowledge, visit this web page.


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