30 Spanish Suffixes You Need to Navigate Native Conversations
Spanish suffixes are small groups of letters that attach to the end of words to slightly change their meaning—and there are over 200 of them.
Don’t worry though: you don’t need to learn them all at once! But you’ll definitely encounter most of them on your journey to fluency.
By the end of this post, you’ll learn 30 must-know Spanish suffixes, and master them with brief explanations and tons of examples.
- 1. -ito/a
- 2. -illo/a
- 3. -cico/a
- 4. -uelo/a
- 5. -ote/a
- 6. -ucho/a
- 7. -ón / -ona
- 8. -azo/a
- 9. -udo/a
- 10. -ada
- 11. -dor / -dora
- 12. -al
- 13. -ante
- 14. -ario/a
- 15. -ero/a
- 16. -ía
- 17. -mente
- 18. -ista
- 19. -acho/a
- 20. -ajo/a
- 21. -anza
- 22. -able / -ible
- 23. -dad
- 24. -ísimo/a
- 25. -oso
- 26. -ano/a
- 27. -dero
- 28. -adizo
- 29. -grafo
- 30. -iento
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Usage: To indicate smallness and endearment
This is probably the most common of the diminutive suffixes in Spanish, which expresses smallness and endearment.
So, if you want to talk about a little puppy or small dog, you would say perrito (from perro). If you want to express your love for your partner you can call them cariñito (from cariño, literally meaning “little love” or “little honey”).
He comprado un arbolito para el jardín.
(I have bought a little tree for the garden.)
Mi hermanita está durmiendo.
(My little/dear sister is sleeping.)
Me gusta jugar a las cocinitas.
(I like playing with toy kitchens.)
El perrito quiere comer.
(The little puppy/dog wants to eat.)
As you can see, this is very easy to learn and use. However, you should know these two things about this suffix:
Variation 1: -cito/a is used for words that end with…
- An accented vowel (papá → papacito)
- An unaccented e (calle → callecita)
- The consonants n or r (dolor → dolorcito)
Variation 2: If a word has a masculine and a feminine form, the feminine diminutive is formed by changing the ending -o from the masculine diminutive to -a. For example:
juez, jueza (judge) → juececito/a
doctor, doctora (doctor) → doctorcito/a
profesor, profesora (professor) → profesorcito/a
Usage: To indicate smallness and endearment, especially common in southern and central Spain (and less in South America). It’s very similar to -ito/a.
árbol (tree)→ arbolillo
hermana (sister) → hermanilla
cocina (kitchen) → cocinilla
perro (dog) → perrillo
juez/a (judge) → juececillo/a
Remember that the same ending rules apply here!
Usage: Also a substitute for -ito to indicate smallness and endearment
calle (street) → callecica
bote (container) → botecico
camión (truck) → camioncico
dolor (pain) → dolorcico
You’ll hear this suffix most often in eastern Spain (except within Catalonia and the Valencian community) and the Spanish-speaking Caribbean countries, like the Dominican Republic.
Usage: To indicate smallness but in a derogatory way (in some instances, though, the suffix has lost its derogatory meaning and the new word is neutral)
Variations: Even though the basic form is –uelo, it can take three other forms:
paño (cloth) → pañuelo (handkerchief)
Note: This is one of those instances where the negative association with the suffix has been lost.
ladrón (thief) → ladronzuelo (burglar, safe-cracker)
pícaro (swindler) → picaruelo (rogue)
pie (foot) → piecezuelo (little, rather ugly foot)
Usage: To indicate endearment or denote largeness in size
This suffix is very peculiar because it can act as both a diminutive and augmentative suffix.
It can have positive and negative connotations, so you have to be quite a proficient speaker to handle it properly.
There are no rules regarding when this suffix will be diminutive, augmentative, positive or negative. The best way to get acquainted with it is by learning a few examples by heart.
cabeza (head) → cabezota (big-headed, stubborn)
ángel (angel) → angelote (large figure of an angel; chubby child; decent person, in South America)
amigo (friend) → amigote (buddy, pal, mate)
Note: The Real Academia Española (Royal Spanish Academy) treats amigote as despective.
Usage: To indicate a negative connotation
The suffix -ucho is another derogatory suffix. However, it doesn’t turn people, animals and things bigger or smaller—it just adds a negative connotation to the word.
Since there’s not a single English suffix that could be used for translating -ucho, the safest way to get along with it is by learning the new words as independent terms.
casa (house) → casucha (shack, hovel)
flaco (thin) → flacucho (skinny)
médico (doctor) → medicucho (quack, quackish)
7. -ón / -ona
Usage: To make a word bigger in size or intensity
Variation 1: Feminine words that take the ending -ón become the same object, just bigger and masculine. There are feminine versions, but they’re rarely used.
la casa (house) → el casón / la casona (manor house)
la cuchara (spoon) → el cucharón / la cucharona (ladle)
la voz (voice) → el vozarrón / la vozarrona (booming voice)
la puerta (door) → el portón / la puertona (gate)
Variation 2: Adjectives can be made more intense by adding the suffix –ón, and they have a feminine counterpart ending in -ona:
grande (big) → grandón / grandona (very big)
Note: This is especially used when talking about big and tall young people.
simpático (nice, likable) → simpaticón / simpaticona (very easily likable)
tonto (silly) → tontorrón / tontorrona (very silly)
Note: This is normally used with endearment.
Variation 3: You can add this suffix to the root of some Spanish infinitives to make a noun mean a sharp, sudden or abrupt action related to the verb.
apagar (to switch off, to turn off) → apagón (a blackout)
resbalar (to slip, to slide) → resbalón (a slip, specifically one that can make you painfully thump on the floor)
tropezar (to bump into, to trip over) → tropezón (a trip, a stumble)
Variation 4: The suffix –ón can add a derogatory value to a word. In these cases, both masculine and feminine forms are normally accepted.
mirar (to look, to watch) → mirón / mirona (nosy, snoopy)
llorar (to cry, to weep) → llorón / llorona (weeper, crybaby)
tragar (to swallow, to gulp down) → tragón / tragona (greedy guts, pig)
Usage 1: To make a word bigger in size or intensity
José ha comprado un cochazo.
(José has bought a great/big/super/extraordinary car.)
¡Mi primo tiene unas orejazas enormes!
(My cousin has super big ears!)
As you can see, you can even add an adjective such as enorme, gigante or muy grande to make the noun even bigger.)
Usage 2: To indicate a hit or blow with something
In this case, you’ll have masculine nouns almost exclusively, so the common ending will just be -azo. To say in Spanish that you accidentally hit something/someone with part of your body or an object, use that part and add -azo to it.
Watch out for those ending vowels dropping before adding the suffix!
puño (fist) → puñetazo (punch)
cabeza (head) → cabezazo (blow to the head)
puerta (door) → portazo ([door] slam)
cañón (cannon) → cañonazo (cannon shot)
Usage: To indicate having a lot of something (normally used with parts of the body and physical qualities)
pelo (hair) → peludo (hairy, furry)
fuerza (strength) → forzudo (strongman)
oreja (ear) → orejudo (big-eared)
Usage 1: To indicate a violent action or blow with
cuchillo (knife) → cuchillada (knife cut, stab wound)
cuerno (horn) → cornada (goring)
piedra (rock, stone) → pedrada (a hit or blow with a stone)
Usage 2: To indicate a big quantity or full of (similar to -ful in English)
cuchara (spoon) → cucharada (spoonful)
millón (million) → millonada (fortune, lots of millions)
Usage 3: To indicate an action or effect of an infinitive verb
llamar (to call) → una llamada (a call)
parar (to stop) → una parada (a stop)
nevar (to snow) → nevada (snowfall)
11. -dor / -dora
Usage 1: To create instruments and household appliances that make the action of the verb they are derived from
aspirar (to suck in) → aspiradora (vacuum cleaner)
cargar (to charge, to load) → cargador (charger, loader)
lavar (to wash) → lavadora (washing machine)
secar (to dry) → secador (hairdryer, clothes horse), secadora (laundry dryer, spin dryer)
Usage 2: To create names of places where you do the action of the infinitives they are derived from
comer (to eat) → comedor (dining room)
asar (to roast) → asador (rotisserie)
probar (to try on) → probador (fitting room)
Usage 3: To create occupations and jobs (much like the English “-er” and “-or”)
vender (to sell) → vendedor / vendedora (seller, vendor)
conducir (to drive) → conductor / conductora (driver)
dirigir una orquesta (to conduct an orchestra) → director / directora de orquesta (conductor)
jugar (to play) → jugador (player)
Usage 4: To create adjectives and nouns having a specific quality related to the infinitive they are derived from
encantar (to bewitch, to charm)
encantador / encantadora (charming)
encantador (charmer, i.e. snake charmer or encantador de serpientes)
hablar (to talk)
hablador / habladora (talkative, adjective)
hablador / habladora (chatterbox, noun)
Usage 1: To form adjectives that mean “pertaining to, related to.” (The English equivalent is also “-al”)
cultura (culture) → cultural (cultural)
constitución (constitution) → constitucional (constitutional)
adverbio (adverb) → adverbial (adverbial)
Usage 2: To form nouns that indicate a place where the original noun can be found (usually in abundance)
arroz (rice) → arrozal (paddy field)
arena (sand) → arenal (sandy area)
dinero (money) → dineral (a fortune)
Usage: To turn verbs into nouns and adjectives
The same word will have two different meanings and two different functions.
The noun will denote the person or thing acting as the verb.
The adjective can be used to describe something or someone with the qualities inherent to the infinitive, or as a present participle.
In this last case, the English equivalent will always be the ending “-ing.”
amar (to love) → amante (lover [n.]; loving [adj.])
picar (to be hot, to be spicy, to sting) → picante (hot, spicy)
calmar (to calm, to relieve) → calmante (painkiller [n.]; soothing, calming [adj.])
estudiar (to study) → estudiante (student)
Usage 1: To indicate a profession
becario (intern, apprentice)
Usage 2: To indicate a place
campanario (bell tower)
Usage 3: To mean “a group of”:
abecedario (alphabet, i.e. a group of letters)
recetario (cookbook, i.e. a group of recipes)
poemario (book of poems, i.e. a group of poems)
Usage 4: To mean “pertaining to, related to.” In this case, it will very frequently be translated into English as “-ary”:
Usage 1: To turn a noun into an occupation
camión (truck) → camionero/a (truck driver)
fruta (fruit) → frutero/a (fruit seller)
verdura (vegetables) → verdulero/a (greengrocer, the addition of this suffix is a bit irregular)
pan (bread) →panadero/a (baker)
Usage 2: To denote types of fruit trees
coco (coconut) → cocotero (coconut palm)
limón (lemon) → limonero (lemon tree)
melocotón (peach) → melocotonero (peach tree)
plátano (banana) → platanero (banana tree)
Usage 3: To form adjectives with the meaning “related to”
pescar (to fish for) → pesquero/a (fishing adj., related to fishing)
leche (milk) → lechero (milk adj., related to milk)
setenta (seventy) → setentero/a (related to the 70s)
Usage 4: To form nouns with the meaning of “place in which to keep” (frequently, but not exclusively, related to food)
azúcar (sugar) → azucarero (sugar bowl)
sal (salt) → salero (salt shaker)
moneda (coin) → monedero (purse)
The suffix -ía is a suffix that is normally added to the suffix –ero to form the double suffix -ería.
Usage 1: To form the names of stores and shops from nouns
pan (bread) → panadero/a (baker) → panadería (bakery)
pescado (fish) → pescadero/a (fishmonger) → pescadería (fish market)
zapato (shoe) → zapatero/a (shoemaker) → zapatería (shoe store)
Usage 2: To indicate relation
tonto (silly) → tontería (foolishness)
galán (handsome man) → galantería (gallantry)
camarada (comrade) → camaradería (comradeship)
Usage: To transform adjectives into adverbs
To do this, add the suffix to the feminine singular form of the adjective in question. Most of the time, you’ll be able to translate the suffix -mente as the suffix “–ly” in English.
elegante (elegant) → elegantemente (elegantly)
rápido → rápida (quick) → rápidamente (quickly)
claro → clara (clear) → claramente (clearly)
perfecto → perfecta (perfect) → perfectamente (perfectly)
fácil (easy) → fácilmente (easily)
Generally, this suffix can almost always be translated as “-ist” in English.
Even though it has around six main uses, only two of them are extremely common.
Usage 1: To create names of occupations
Usage 2: To denote people who support or are associated with something (this will normally be a religion, a sports team, a philosophical current, etc.):
madridista (Real Madrid player or supporter)
Usage: To add a negative connotation or contempt to a word
pueblo (town) → poblacho (small hillbilly town/Podunk town)
hombre (man) → hombracho (big, heavy-built guy)
Usage: To denote something very small and insignificant, usually with a negative connotation
Attaching this Spanish suffix to an adjective gives the impression that it’s small in a disrespectful, insignificant way. However, sometimes it’s just used to emphasize the small size of whatever the speaker is describing.
miga (crumb) → migaja (tiny, insignificant crumb)
hierba (grass) → hierbajo (weeds)
Usage: To form a noun from a verb
fiar (to sell/give on credit) → fianza (deposit, bond)
criar (to raise, bring up) → crianza (upbringing)
22. -able / -ible
Usage: To form adjectives from verbs. Similar to the English -able
absorber (to absorb) → absorbible (absorbable)
adorar (to adore) → adorable (adorable)
Usage: To form a noun that’s representative of the adjective or verb that it comes from
contar (to count) → contabilidad (accounting)
activar (to activate) → actividad (activity)
igual (equal) → igualdad (equality)
Usage: To turn adjectives into adverbs that emphasize having a lot of or being in the most extreme state
mucho (much) → muchísimo (a lot of, very much)
mal (bad) → malísimo (very bad)
bajo (short, low) → bajísimo (very short)
Usage: To turn nouns into adjectives
peligro (danger) → peligroso (dangerous)
poder (power) → poderoso (powerful)
olor (smell) → oloroso (smelly)
Usage: To turn nouns into adjectives that indicate belonging or origin from the noun
Perú (Peru) → peruano (Peruvian)
Cuba (Cuba) → cubano (Cuban)
Venezuela (Venezuela) → venezolano (Venzuelan)
México (Mexico) → mexicano (Mexican)
Usage 1: To indicate a position, title, occupation etc. in relation to a verb or noun
barrer (to sweep) → barrendero (street sweeper)
honda (sling) → hondero (slinger, someone who uses slingshots)
Usage 2: To turn a verb into a place where the activity from the verb occurs
embarcar (to embark) → embarcadero (pier)
lavar (to wash) → lavadero (laundry room, washboard)
comer (to eat) → comedero (dining room)
Usage 3: To form an adjective out of a verb to indicate that something is possible
pagar (to pay) → pagadero (payable)
llevar (to take, bear) → llevadero (tolerable, bearable)
hacer (to do) → hacedero (doable)
Usage: To form adjectives from verbs (and sometimes nouns) to mean “prone to”
manchar (to stain) → manchadizo (easily stained, prone to staining)
olvidar (to forget) → olvidadizo (forgetful, prone to forgetting)
quebrar (to break) → quebradizo (fragile, delicate)
Usage: The Spanish equivalent of the English ending -graph
Usage 1: To form adjectives from nouns that convey a physical or emotional condition
sed (thirst) → sediento (thirsty)
hambre (hunger) → hambriento (feeling, sorrow)
Usage 2: To form adjectives that indicate similarity
amarillo (yellow) → amarillento (yellowish)
To review all your new tricks, watch or read Spanish content—such as books, subtitled movies and TV shows—while keeping an eye out and noting down how they’re used.
The authentic Spanish videos on FluentU naturally include suffixes, since native speakers use them all the time. The clips are annotated with interactive subtitles so you can spot them, see their definitions on-screen and add them to your vocabulary lists for later study.
With practice, these suffixes will be a breeze—and finally, so will understanding them in natural conversations.
Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)