Spanish Grammar: Guide to Pronouns, Adjectives & Determiners

When you’re learning Spanish, you’ll start hearing about pronouns, determiners, adjectives and adverbs soon enough. All of those words add extra information to your sentences and help you build cohesive statements. So, in short, you need to be aware of these types of words and how to use them if you’re serious about improving your Spanish. 

Assuming that you may not be a grammar freak like me, I decided to prepare this article with key information about Spanish pronouns, determiners, adjectives and adverbs. On top of explaining to you what these words are and how to use them, I’ll also include some articles that can help you solidify your understanding of this topic. 

Spanish Pronouns & Determiners

Pronouns are usually short words that have a simple, but yet crucial function: replacing a noun to make a sentence more fluid and concise. In Spanish, we have different types of pronouns. Some of the common types are personal pronouns, reflexive pronouns, and object pronouns.

A rule of thumb when using pronouns is that you must choose a pronoun that matches the noun you’re referring to. Determiners, on the other hand, are words that are placed before a noun. Their purpose is to specify and provide additional information about the noun they’re accompanying. Check these examples:

Sentence with two pronouns:

Ella es vecina de José Luis. ¿La conoces?
She is José Luis’ neighbor. Do you know her?

Sentence with a determiner:

Esta blusa no me gusta.
I don’t like this blouse.

graphic showing the difference between pronouns and determiners in spanish

Take Note: Notice how the pronoun shortens the sentences, while the example with the determiner acts as a specifier.

In the following list, you’ll find some articles about pronouns and determiners in Spanish. These resources will give you a better understanding of how these grammatical elements work and how to apply them to your sentences.  

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Understanding and Using Pronouns & Determiners

Do you capitalize pronouns in Spanish?

In Spanish, pronouns are only capitalized if they’re starting a sentence or when using the abbreviations ‘Ud.’ and ‘Uds.’. The only exception to this rule is when using the personal pronoun ‘Él’ as a way to refer to God. This is only applicable in religious texts to show respect for a sacred figure. 

Yo creo que yo no quiero postre. 
I think that I don’t want dessert. 

Pídele ayuda a Él. 
Asking him for help. 

Take Note: Even though in English you always capitalize the pronoun ‘I’, in Spanish, yo is only capitalized if it’s used to start a sentence.  

When to use pronouns in Spanish?

In Spanish, pronouns are used to replace a noun that has already been mentioned. Personal pronouns, for example, stand in for things or proper names. Using pronouns avoids unnecessary repetition and makes sentences clearer and shorter. 

Unlike English, in Spanish, we’re not forced to always use personal pronouns. This is because the majority of the time the conjugation of a verb implicitly tells who the subject is. As a result, in many cases, personal pronouns are only used to emphasize a sentence.

Empecé a estudiar español hace dos meses.
I started studying Spanish two months ago.

Yo empecé a estudiar español hace dos meses.
I started studying Spanish two months ago.

What’s the difference between determiners and pronouns?

Determiners always accompany nouns and they provide additional information about them. On the other hand, pronouns are meant to replace a noun and, aside from gender and number, they don’t provide a lot of details about the noun they substitute. 

Here are some examples:

Esa es mi mochila. 
That’s my bag

Es mía
It’s mine. 

In example #1, the determiner indicates to whom that bag belongs. In example #2, we just know that the pronoun mía is referring to a singular feminine noun. It could be that same bag or it could refer to another singular feminine object. 

Are determiners and adjectives the same?

Even though they both provide information about a noun, determiners and adjectives are not the same. Spanish adjectives are used to describe the characteristics of a person or thing. Although this information is useful to have a better understanding of that noun, a sentence could get by without it. 

Determiners, on the other hand, cannot be removed from a sentence without affecting its coherence. They’re always placed before the noun and they provide you basic information about it. Examples of determiners include:

  • Articles (la, uno, una, etc)
  • Possessive (mi, tu, su, etc)
  • Demonstratives (ese, esta, etc)
  • Quantifiers (uno, dos, tres)

In other words, adjectives describe how a noun is and determiners specify amounts and other simple information. Unlike determines, adjectives could also be placed after the noun.

Esa casa me gusta.
I like that house. 

La casa es muy bonita.
The house is very pretty.

Common Spanish Adjectives & Adverbs 

Adjectives are words that provide information about the attributes and characteristics of a noun. As a result, if you want your sentences to be as descriptive as possible, you need to use Spanish adjectives. 

Me gustan los perros pequeños.
I like small dogs.

Similar to adjectives, adverbs also provide additional information, but in their case, they describe a verb, an adjective or another adverb. Adverbs can provide details about time, way, place, amount and frequency of an action. The sentence below, for example, explains how romantic Roberto is. 

Roberto es muy romántico.
Roberto is very romantic.

In the list below, you’ll find some useful articles that will help you go deeper into the topic of adjectives and adverbs. 

Guides on Adjectives & Adverbs

Learn the Difference between Similar Adjectives & Adverbs

What to Know About Adjectives & Adverbs

When to use adjectives in Spanish? 

Spanish adjectives are used when you need to describe people, animals, objects or concepts. Even though they’re not mandatory, adjectives help you convey a clear image of what you’re talking about. 

Check how different these examples are just by adding an adjective to the mix:

Un chico me invitó a salir.
A guy asked me out.

Un chico muy guapo me invitó a salir.
A very handsome guy asked me out.

Do you conjugate adjectives in Spanish?

Spanish adjectives do not need nor can they be conjugated. However, they do need to agree in number and gender with the noun they’re describing. As a result, Spanish adjectives can be singular, plural, masculine or feminine depending on the noun. 

Mi prima tiene un gato blanco.
My cousin has a white cat.

Mi prima tiene dos gatos blancos.
My cousin has two white cats.

Isabel es muy lista.
Isabel is very smart.

Fernando y Luis son muy listos.
Fernando and Luis are very smart.

What does a Spanish adverb describe?

Spanish adverbs generally modify a verb. This means that they provide information about when an action occurred and the way it occurred. Adverbs in Spanish can also modify adjectives and other adverbs. In this case, they specify the degree of the characteristics described by these words. 

El niño caminó rápidamente.
The boy walked quickly.

Mi hermano es muy alto.
My brother is very tall.

Where does the adverb go in Spanish?

In the majority of sentences, adverbs usually go after the verb or before the adjective (or adverb) they’re describing. However, in poetic constructions, adverbs can be placed in front of the verb as a way to emphasize the sentence. Adverbs of time and manner can also be placed before the verb. 

Mañana iré al doctor. 
I’ll go to the doctor tomorrow. 

Comes muy rápido.
You eat so fast. 

Realmente, no tenía opción. 
Actually, I didn’t have any other option. 

Do adjectives have gender in Spanish?

Most Spanish adjectives have gender. Usually, masculine adjectives end with an ‘o’. On the other hand, feminine adjectives end with an ‘a’. However, adjectives with the following endings ‘-e’, ‘-ista’ or a consonant are neutral adjectives and they cannot be changed to agree with the noun’s gender. 

Leah es muy amable. 
Leah is very kind

Betty es muy bonita
Betty is very pretty. 

Los perros de Hugo son muy bonitos. 
Hugo’s dogs are very pretty.