You’re strolling down the lively streets of Sevilla, smelling the rich aroma of fried chipirones — my favorite tapa by the way — when suddenly you spot the perfect souvenir: a vibrant, flamenco-inspired scarf. No judgement here, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Now, how do you convey that it’s not just any scarf, but this scarf, the one your heart desires?
Fortunately, we’re here to explain everything there is to know about demonstrative adjectives in Spanish! At the end of this article, you’ll be able to say not only “Quiero esta bufanda” (I want this scarf) but also “Quiero esta” (I want this one), as we’ll also cover demonstrative pronouns in Spanish.
So, amigos, prepare to elevate your Spanish skills, add that extra flair to your conversations, and never again be lost in translation.
Here is your reading soundtrack. ¿Vamos?
What are demonstrative adjectives in Spanish?
Demonstrative adjectives in Spanish, known as "adjetivos demostrativos," are words used to indicate and specify nouns in relation to the speaker and listener. They help identify whether the noun being referred to is near or far from the speaker, or if it’s closer to the listener.
Demonstrative adjectives also indicate the gender and number of the noun they modify. There are three sets of demonstrative adjectives in Spanish: este, ese, aquel, and their respective forms for feminine and plural nouns.
What is the role of demonstrative adjectives in Spanish?
Demonstrative adjectives are used to point out the proximity of a particular object or objects concerning the speaker and listener. For example:
- Este libro (This book): Indicates a book that is close to the speaker.
- Esa casa (That house): Indicates a house that is closer to the listener.
- Aquellos niños (Those children): Indicates children that are far from both the speaker and listener.
Demonstrative adjectives help to specify which particular item or items are being referred to within context.
Differences between demonstrative adjectives in English and Spanish
Spanish demonstrative adjectives distinguish between three levels of distance.
- Este, esta (this): Refers to objects close to the speaker. (e.g., Este coche - This car)
- Ese, esa (that): Refers to objects closer to the listener. (e.g., Esa película - That movie)
- Aquel, aquella (that, over there): Refers to objects far from both the speaker and the listener. (e.g., Aquel libro - That book over there)
English demonstrative adjectives distinguish only two levels of distance.
- This: Refers to objects close to both the speaker and the listener. (e.g., This pen)
- That: Refers to objects farther away from the speaker and listener or less immediate in time. (e.g., That building over there, That book I read yesterday)
|Distance||Demonstrative adjectives in Spanish||Demonstrative adjectives in English|
|Close||Este, esta, estos, estas||This, these|
|Near||Ese, esa, esos, esas||That, those|
|Far||Aquel, aquella, aquellos, aquellas||That (over there), those (over there)|
Singular demonstrative adjectives in Spanish
Demonstrative adjectives in Spanish, when used in the singular form, help to specify particular objects or people. They indicate the proximity of the noun they modify concerning the speaker and listener.
|Aquella||Aquel||That, over there|
Plural demonstrative adjectives in Spanish
When used in the plural form, demonstrative adjectives indicate several specific objects, people, or places in relation to the speaker and listener. They show the proximity of the noun they modify in a plural context.
|Aquellas||Aquellos||Those (over there)|
How to choose the right demonstrative adjective in Spanish
Choosing the correct demonstrative adjective in Spanish depends on the proximity of the noun in relation to the speaker and listener. Here are the general rules and considerations to make the right choice. And if you make a mistake — like these hilarious errors in Spanish — just try again!
When to use este, esta, estos, estas
These demonstrative adjectives emphasize immediate proximity, indicating objects or individuals within arm's reach or in close visual proximity to the speaker.
Este is employed for singular masculine nouns, such as "Este libro" (This book), while Esta is used for singular feminine nouns, like "Esta casa" (This house).
For plural nouns, Estos is used with masculine words (e.g., "Estos niños" - These children), and Estas is used with feminine words (e.g., "Estas flores" - These flowers).
When to use ese, esa, esos, esas
These demonstrative adjectives are used to indicate objects or people that are near the listener, not too close to the speaker but within the listener's visual or physical proximity.
Ese is employed for singular masculine nouns, for example, "Ese coche" (That car), and Esa for singular feminine nouns, such as "Esa película" (That movie).
In the plural form, Esos is used with masculine words (e.g., "Esos perros" - Those dogs), and Esas is used with feminine words (e.g., "Esas galletas" - Those cookies).
When to use aquel, aquella, aquellos, aquellas
Aquel, aquella, aquellos and aquellas refer to objects or people that are far away from both the speaker and the listener. They emphasize a significant distance.
Aquel is used for singular masculine nouns, such as "Aquel edificio" (That building over there), indicating an object that is quite distant. Aquella is used for singular feminine nouns, for example, "Aquella montaña" (That mountain over there).
In the plural form, Aquellos is used with masculine words (e.g., "Aquellos árboles" - Those trees over there), and Aquellas is used with feminine words (e.g., "Aquellas islas" - Those islands over there). Yes, that calls for a song. Speaking of which, esta canción was featured in our Spanglish article.
Using demonstrative adjectives in Spanish correctly
Ok, all of this is great, but concretely, how does it work? Below are a few examples… because there is nothing like showing by example!
|Demonstrative Adjective||Spanish example sentence||English|
|Este||Este libro es interesante.||This book is interesting.|
|Esta||Esta casa es grande.||This house is big.|
|Ese||Ese coche es rápido.||That car is fast.|
|Esa||Esa película es emocionante.||That movie is exciting.|
|Aquel||Aquel edificio es antiguo.||That building is old.|
|Aquella||Aquella montaña es alta.||That mountain is high.|
|Estos||Estos niños son juguetones.||These children are playful.|
|Estas||Estas flores son hermosas.||These flowers are beautiful.|
|Esos||Esos perros son simpáticos.||Those dogs are friendly.|
|Esas||Esas galletas son deliciosas.||Those cookies are delicious.|
|Aquellos||Aquellos árboles son altos.||Those trees are tall.|
|Aquellas||Aquellas islas son paradisíacas.||Those islands are paradisiacal.|
Spanish demonstrative adjectives matrix
Here is the full matrix. You can print it and keep it in your pocket, but make sure you pick the right color.
|Distance||Singular feminine||Singular masculine||Plural feminine||Plural masculine|
What are demonstrative pronouns in Spanish?
Now you know what are demonstrative adjectives in Spanish. But it would be a shame to stop there, right? You’re doing so well!
So, let’s continue — I know what you’re thinking — with demonstrative pronouns in Spanish.
Known as "pronombres demostrativos," they are used to replace a specific noun or nouns in a sentence. They serve a similar purpose to demonstrative adjectives, indicating and specifying objects, people, or ideas in relation to the speaker and listener. Demonstrative adjectives and pronouns in Spanish are, in fact, the same words; the difference lies in their usage within a sentence.
What is the role of demonstrative pronouns in Spanish?
Identifying specific objects
Demonstrative pronouns replace specific nouns to avoid repetition and clarify what the speaker is referring to. For instance, in the sentence "Quiero este" (I want this one) "este" is a demonstrative pronoun replacing a specific object.
Emphasizing or contrasting
Demonstrative pronouns can emphasize or contrast different objects or ideas. For example, in the sentence "Prefiero esta a esa” (I prefer this over that), "esta" and "esa" are demonstrative pronouns emphasizing the speaker's preference.
Differentiating demonstrative pronouns from adjectives
The key difference between demonstrative pronouns and adjectives is their position in a sentence. Demonstrative adjectives modify a noun directly, indicating which specific noun they refer to.
The choice between using a demonstrative pronoun or adjective depends on whether the speaker wants to specify the noun directly (using an adjective) or replace the noun with a pronoun for clarity or emphasis.
For example, in the phrase "Este libro" (This book), "este" is a demonstrative adjective modifying the noun "libro."
On the other hand, demonstrative pronouns stand alone, replacing the noun entirely. In the sentence “Quiero este” (I want this)", "este" is a demonstrative pronoun replacing the noun it refers to, which could be something like "book" or any other noun in the context.
Singular demonstrative pronouns in Spanish
Singular demonstrative pronouns in Spanish serve as concise substitutes for specific singular nouns. As their adjective counterparts, they indicate a particular object or person in relation to the speaker and listener.
However, these pronouns are used to avoid repetition and provide clarity, replacing singular nouns while maintaining the context of the conversation.
|Aquella||Aquel||That (over there)|
Plural demonstrative pronouns in Spanish
Plural demonstrative pronouns in Spanish function as efficient replacements for specific plural nouns. They are used to indicate multiple objects or people in relation to the speaker and listener.
By using them, speakers can avoid redundancy and streamline their communication, especially when referring to various items within a category.
|Aquellas||Aquellos||Those (over there)|
Neuter demonstrative pronouns and how to use them?
As seen above, Spanish demonstrative pronouns come in three types, each requiring agreement with the gender and number of the nouns they replace.
Additionally, every demonstrative pronoun has a neuter form that remains unchanged in both number and gender. Demostrativos neutros are pronouns that refer to an entire clause or to an unknown element.
They are “esto”, “eso” and “aquello”, corresponding respectively to “este”, “ese” and “aquel”.
Examples of neuter demonstrative pronouns in use
"Esto" (This/This thing)
¿Qué es esto? (What is this?)
No entiendo esto. (I don't understand this.)
"Eso" (That/That thing)
¿Qué es eso? (What is that?)
Eso no me gusta. (I don't like that.)
"Aquello" (That over there/That thing over there/That in the past)
¿Qué es aquello? (What is that over there?)
Aquello fue fantástico. (That was awesome.)
Demonstrative adjectives and pronouns in a nutshell
Con toda esa información, it’s time for a recap! Below are the key points to remember about demonstrative adjectives and pronouns in Spanish.
- Demonstrative adjectives and pronouns in Spanish share the same forms, but have distinct roles.
- Demonstrative adjectives modify nouns directly, indicating specific objects or people in relation to the speaker and listener.
- Demonstrative pronouns replace specific nouns to avoid repetition and provide clarity. They stand alone in a sentence.
- Spanish distinguishes between three levels of distance.
- Demonstrative adjectives and pronouns must match the gender and number of the nouns they modify or replace.
- Spanish has neuter forms used for unspecified or unknown objects, ideas, or things not specifically mentioned in the conversation.
- The choice between adjectives and pronouns depends on the context. Adjectives specify nouns directly, whereas pronouns replace nouns, offering flexibility in communication based on emphasis, clarity, and avoidance of repetition.
Hopefully by now, you’ve mastered the art of pointing and specifying. Are you ready to dazzle everyone with your linguistic finesse? Remember that you can work on your other Spanish skills in our Spanish blog.
Oh, and if you want to describe that flamenco scarf — esta bufanda roja y maravillosa — check out these adjectives in Spanish.
What are you still doing here? Go buy esta bonita bufanda! And eat esos chipirones, too!
Final note that has nothing to do with demonstrative adjectives and pronouns in Spanish, but everything to do with chipirones: Apparently, it’s Lady Gaga’s favorite tapa too. You’re welcome.