Opposites Attract: How to Learn Spanish Adjectives by Studying Antonym Pairs

Let’s face the cold, hard truth: Adjectives are important.

Adjectives are the building blocks of any descriptive sentence.

Even the most basic sentence is jazzed up by a good adjective.

They add color and create vibrant descriptions.

But there are just so many of them! How can you even begin to learn enough adjectives when you’re drowning in a sea of highly descriptive words?

The answer is simultaneously unexpected and predictable: You can learn more adjectives by learning antonym sets!

Why Study Spanish Antonyms?

Studying antonyms is a great way to connect related terms in your mind.

But wait, aren’t antonyms exactly because they’re unrelated?

Yes, an antónimo (antonym) is actually the opposite of a word, but any two antonyms are generally used to describe the same basic things. For instance, you might describe someone as “tall” or “short.” While these words are antonyms, they’re both used to describe height. Therefore, when you’re looking to describe someone’s height, it’s helpful to be able to remember both terms together.

Furthermore, learning antonym sets together is a different approach, so it will ward off study fatigue. You can study word lists and typical flashcards all day long, but eventually, you’ll tire of these approaches. Studying antonym sets is a good way to change things up.

Try using flashcards to study antonym sets. I know—you’ve used flashcards a thousand times before, but this time it’ll be different. Put one word on one side and its antonym on the other side. Look at one word and name its antonym. Flip the pile of flashcards over and try it with the opposite sides.

Last but not least, studying antonyms will help you start thinking in Spanish. Ah, every Spanish learner’s dream! The best way to get there is to use varied and diverse approaches. Since studying antonyms will help you look at the words differently, it will help provide you with a more complex understanding of these words.

You can also practice your antonyms in any conversation or listening activity. Whenever you’re listening to a person or an audio, pick out an adjective you hear and (mentally or textually) note the opposite. This is great practice that will help reinforce all your learning.

If you don’t have any Spanish-speaking friends, you can do this with the help of FluentU.

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Opposites Attract: 25 Irresistible Spanish Antonym Pairs

1. Antiguo / Moderno

Antiguo means “old,” “antique” or “ancient.”

Moderno means “modern.” It can also be slang for “trendy.”

Las cosas en el museo son muy antiguas, pero el edificio es muy moderno.
(The things in the museum are very old, but the building is very modern.)

2. Corto / Largo

Corto means “short.” It can also be slang to describe someone who isn’t too bright. Largo, on the other hand, means “long.”

A Juan solamente le gusta el pelo largo, pero Lupe tiene el pelo corto.
(Juan only likes long hair, but Lupe has short hair.)

3. Estrecho / Ancho

Estrecho means “narrow” while ancho means “wide.”

Cuando hay coches, la calle parece muy estrecha, pero en realidad es ancha.
(When there are cars, the street feels very narrow, but actually it is wide.)

4. Bueno / Malo

Bueno is “good.” Malo is “bad.”

Los vegetales son muy buenos para la salud, pero los dulces son malos.
(Vegetables are very good for health, but candies are bad.)

5. Cómodo / Incómodo

Cómodo can mean “comfortable” or “convenient.” Incómodo means “uncomfortable” or “awkward.”

El sofá es cómodo, pero la silla es incómoda.
(The couch is comfortable, but the chair is uncomfortable.)

6. Caro / Barato

Caro means “expensive” or “dear.” Barato means “cheap” or “trashy.”

Quiero un coche caro, pero solamente tengo un coche barato.
(I want an expensive car, but I only have a cheap car.)

7. Antipático / Simpático

Antipático can be used to mean “unpleasant,” “unfriendly” or “disagreeable.” On the other hand, simpático can be used to mean “pleasant,” “friendly” or “agreeable.”

Ella es muy antipática, pero su familia es muy simpática.
(She is very unpleasant, but her family is very pleasant.)

8. Débil / Fuerte

Débil is “weak” while fuerte is “strong.”

Muchas personas en el gimnasio son débiles, pero Margarita es muy fuerte.
(Many people in the gym are very weak, but Margarita is very strong.)

9. Duro / Blando

Duro means “hard,” “tough” or “severe.” Blando means “soft” or “smooth.”

Las piedras son duras y mi colchón es blando. Lo prefiero así.
(Rocks are hard and my mattress is soft. I prefer it like this.)

10. Frío / Caliente

Frío means “cold.” It can also be used to describe someone with a “cool head” or who’s emotionally “distant” or “cold.” Caliente is “hot.” It can also be used to describe someone who’s angry.

El helado está frío y mi café está caliente. Me duelen los dientes.
(The ice cream is cold and my coffee is hot. My teeth hurt.)

11. Grande / Pequeño

Grande means “big,” while pequeño means “small.”

El bajo es un instrumento grande y el ukelele es pequeño.
(The bass is a big instrument and the ukulele is little.)

12. Delgado / Gordo

Delgado means “thin” or “slender.” Gordo is “fat” or “thick.”

Mi hermana es delgada, pero yo soy gorda.
(My sister is thin, but I’m fat.)

13. Estúpido / Inteligente

Estúpido means “stupid” or “silly.” Inteligente means “intelligent” or “clever.”

Los estudiantes que no estudian son estúpidos, pero los que estudian son inteligentes.
(The students that do not study are stupid, but those that study are intelligent.)

14. Lleno / Vacío

Lleno is “full,” while vacío is “empty,” “shallow” or “vacant.”

Mi taza está llena, pero tu taza está vacía. ¿Tienes sed?
(My cup is full, but your cup is empty. Are you thirsty?)

15. Claro / Oscuro

Claro has a lot of meanings, so hold onto your seats. It can mean “clear,” “light,” “bright,” “pale” or even “thin”/”weak.” Oscuro, on the other hand, can mean “dark,” “uncertain,” “shady” or “overcast.”

Tu camisa es clara, pero la mía es oscura.
(Your shirt is light, but mine is dark.)

16. Alto / Bajo

Alto can be used to mean “tall,” high” or “loud.” Bajo can mean “short,” “low” or “quiet.”

Los jugadores de baloncesto son muy altos, pero los gimnastas son muy bajos.
(Basketball players are very tall, but gymnasts are very short.)

17. Fácil / Difícil

Fácil can mean “easy” or “easygoing.” Difícil means “difficult.”

Prefiero que la tarea sea fácil, pero es difícil.
(I would prefer the homework to be easy, but it is difficult.)

18. Limpio / Sucio

Limpio is another word with many meanings. Most frequently, it’s used to mean “clean.” However, depending on context, it could also mean “pure,” “clear” or several other things. Sucio can mean “dirty” or “messy.”

Quiero una casa limpia, pero siempre tengo una casa sucia.
(I want a clean house, but I always have a dirty house.)

19. Cómico / Trágico

Cómico means “funny,” while trágico means tragic.

Prefiero las obras cómicas a las obras trágicas.
(I prefer funny/comedic plays to tragic plays.)

20. Hermoso / Feo

Hermoso means “beautiful.” On the other hand, feo means “ugly.”

La Cenicienta es hermosa y sus hermanastras son feas.
(Cinderella is beautiful, and her stepsisters are ugly.)

21. Interesante / Aburrido

Interesante means “interesting.” Aburrido means “boring.”

La clase es interesante, pero la tarea es aburrida.
(The class is interesting, but the homework is boring.)

22. Joven / Viejo

Joven means “young” or “youthful,” while viejo means “old.”

Quiero ser joven, pero soy viejo(a).
(I want to be young, but I’m old.)

23. Más / Menos

Más can mean “more” or “most.” Menos can mean “less,” “fewer,” “least” or “fewest.”

Quiero más dinero y menos problemas.
(I want more money and fewer problems.)

24. Mejor / Peor

Mejor can mean “better” or “best,” while peor can mean “worse” or “worst.”

Mi coche es mejor que el tuyo, pero es peor que el de Juan.
(My car is better than yours, but it’s worse than Juan’s.)

25. Mucho / Poco

Mucho can mean “much,” “many,” “too much,” “too many” or “a lot of.” Poco can mean “little,” “few” or “not much.”

Tengo muchos intereses pero poco tiempo.
(I have many interests but little time.)


So, whether you’re hardworking or lazy, go ahead and give learning antonyms a try!

It should be great (and definitely not awful).

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