Words that get shorter like malo to mal, primero to primer...

Words that get shorter like malo to mal, primero to primer...


You've probably heard hace buen tiempo or es un mal momento o vivo en el tercer piso... All of those have shortened words, so today I want to put them together so you can finally predict them, and see the pattern:

Good and bad

These two words often go before the noun, opposite to the rule. This is because saying something is good or bad is a subjective opinion and not a very reliable description most of the time.
If you want to understand more about the reason some adjectives go before and not after the noun, you can read this blogpost on it.

When they are masculine and singular, agreeing with a masculine singular noun, they lose the -o, becoming shorter. This doesn't happen with feminine or plural versions, or if it's alone (not before a noun):

Hace buen tiempo - it's good weather
Es un buen hombre - he's a good man
Es un mal libro - it's a bad book
Es malo / es bueno - It's bad / it's good (no noun after)

tiempo, hombre and libro are masculine and singular nouns. However, with the feminine or plural nouns:

Es una buena persona - he/she's a good person
Es una buena novela- it's a good novel
Son malos jefes - they are bad bosses
Son buenos empleados - They are bad employees


If you read the blogpost linked in the previous section, you know that grande, before the noun gets shorter (gran) and it means "great" or "grand" (at least that's the theory and what people mean most of the time) and after "grande" stays the same, and it means "big".

Again, the adjective before the noun is more subjective, like good and bad, and the adjective after is more reliable (size).

In this case, gran is shorter both with masculine and feminine nouns, as long as they are singular.

Es un gran profesor - it's a great teacher
Es una gran idea -it's a great idea
Es un gran monumento - it's a grand monument

Son grandes profesores - they are great teachers
Son grandes ideas - they are great ideas
Son grandes edificios- they are grand buildings

First and third

We go back to the pattern where only the singular and masculine forms are shortened. This is the pattern generally, except for "gran/grande".

Es un primer piso - It's a first floor.
Vivimos en el tercer piso - We live on the third floor.
Vivo en el segundo piso / cuarto piso/ quinto piso... - In second, fourth, fifth, etc., the numbers don't get shorter.

If "first" and "third" are in feminine or plural form, again, it doesn't change. Also if they don't go before a noun.

¿Cuál prefieres, el primero o el segundo? - Which do you prefer, the first or the second?

Tengo todos los discos, excepto el tercero - I have all the albums, except the third (one).


Here we have three words words.
Let's start with two that are also getting shorter when they are in singular, masculine form, and only before a noun (not by themselves):

Alguno becomes algún, and it means any or some, it's a very general word that works in both negative and affirmative sentences. It's kind of like a "un" but more generic, perfect for questions like the following:

¿Tienes algún problema? - Do you have any problem? (instead of saying "do you have a problem?", fine but slightly less open).

The word ninguno, changes into ningún and it's the negative option, meaning "none", sometimes "any".

No, no tengo ningún problema - No, I don't have any problem.

If you use the feminine or plural options (alguna, algunos, algunas, ninguna) they don't change.
If they are alone, not before a noun, they don't change either.

¿Tienes algún problema?- Do you have any problem?
No, ninguno - No, none.
Sí, alguno -Yes, some.

I'll add another one here, cualquiera which is also translated as "any at all" or "anything at all". This one is shorter before a noun (cualquier) and that forms works for feminine and masculine:

No tengo preferencia, cualquier cosa está bien para comer - I don't have preference, anything at all is good to eat.

Hopefully, it's a bit easier now to see the pattern and predict them a bit more,

¡Hasta la próxima! :)