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30 Spanish Suffixes to Increase Your Vocabulary Knowledge

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.

Contents

What Are Spanish Suffixes?

Spanish suffixes are affixes added to the end of words to change their meaning or function. They play an important role in forming new words, changing grammatical categories, and expressing nuances in Spanish vocabulary.

Common Spanish suffixes include -ito or -ita to indicate smallness or endearment, -ción to form nouns from verbs (e.g., acción from actuar), and -mente to create adverbs (e.g., rápidamente from rápido).

Spanish suffixes generally fall into these three main categories:

  • Derivative Suffixes — These suffixes are added to the base form of a word to create a new word with a different meaning or function. They are used to form nouns, adjectives, adverbs, or verbs from other words. For example, the suffix -ción is added to verbs to form nouns denoting action or result (e.g.,  acción from actuar).
  • Flexive Suffixes — Also known as inflectional suffixes, these suffixes are added to words to indicate grammatical features such as tense, mood, number, gender, or person. They do not change the basic meaning of the word but modify its form to fit into a particular grammatical context. For instance, the suffix -amos is added to verbs to indicate first-person plural present indicative tense in Spanish (e.g.,  hablamos from hablar).
  • Appreciative Suffixes — These suffixes are used to convey a sense of affection, diminution, or endearment towards the referent. They are often added to nouns or adjectives to express smallness, affection, or familiarity. For example, the suffixes -ito or -ita are added to nouns or adjectives to indicate smallness or endearment (e.g.,  perrito from perro meaning “little dog” or  cariñito from cariño meaning “little darling”).

30 Common Spanish Suffixes

1. -ito/a

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”).

Examples:

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…

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 / juececita

doctor, doctora (doctor) → doctorcito / doctorcita

profesor, profesora (professor) → profesorcito / profesorcita

2. -illo/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.

Examples:

árbol (tree)→  arbolillo

hermana (sister) →  hermanilla

cocina (kitchen) →  cocinilla

perro (dog) →  perrillo

juez/a (judge) → juececillo / juececilla

Remember that the same ending rules apply here!

3. -cico/a

Usage: Also a substitute for -ito to indicate smallness and endearment

Examples:

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.

4. -uelo/a

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:

  • -zuelo
  • -ezuelo
  • -ecezuelo

Examples:

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)

5. -ote/a

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.

Examples:

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.

6. -ucho/a

Usage: To indicate a negative connotation

The suffix -ucho is another derogatory suffix. However, it doesn’t make 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.

Examples:

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)

8. -azo/a

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)

9. -udo/a

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)

10. -ada

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)

12. -al

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)

13. -ante

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.”

Examples:

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)

14. -ario/a

Usage 1: To indicate a profession

empresario (entrepreneur)

becario (intern, apprentice)

bibliotecario (librarian)

Usage 2: To indicate a place

escenario (stage)

campanario (bell tower)

acuario (aquarium)

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”:

terciario (tertiary)

incendiario (incendiary)

voluntario (voluntary)

15. -ero/a

Usage 1: To turn a noun into an occupation

camión (truck) → camionero / camionera (truck driver)

fruta (fruit) → frutero / frutera (fruit seller)

verdura (vegetables) → verdulero / verdulera (greengrocer, the addition of this suffix is a bit irregular)

pan (bread) → panadero / panadera (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 / pesquera (fishing adj., related to fishing)

leche (milk) →  lechero (milk adj., related to milk)

setenta (seventy) → setentero / setentera (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)

16. -ía

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)

17. -mente

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.

Examples:

elegante (elegant) →  elegantemente (elegantly)

rápido  rápida (quick) →  rápidamente (quickly)

claro  clara (clear) →  claramente (clearly)

perfecto → perfecta (perfect) →  perfectamente (perfectly)

fácil (easy) →  fácilmente (easily)

18. -ista

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

artista (artist)

dentista (dentist)

recepcionista (receptionist)

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.):

budista (Buddhist)

marxista (Marxist)

madridista (Real Madrid player or supporter)

19. -acho/a

Usage: To add a negative connotation or contempt to a word

Examples:

pueblo (town) →  poblacho (small hillbilly town/Podunk town)

hombre (man) →  hombracho (big, heavy-built guy)

20. -ajo/a

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.

Examples:

miga (crumb) →  migaja (tiny, insignificant crumb)

hierba (grass) →  hierbajo (weeds)

21. -anza

Usage: To form a noun from a verb

Examples:

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

Examples:

absorber (to absorb) →  absorbible (absorbable)

adorar (to adore) →  adorable (adorable)

23. -dad

Usage: To form a noun that’s representative of the adjective or verb that it comes from

Examples:

contar (to count) →  contabilidad (accounting)

activar (to activate) →  actividad (activity)

igual (equal) →  igualdad (equality)

24. -ísimo/a

Usage: To turn adjectives into adverbs that emphasize having a lot of or being in the most extreme state

Examples:

mucho (much) →  muchísimo (a lot of, very much)

mal (bad) →  malísimo (very bad)

bajo (short, low) →  bajísimo (very short)

25. -oso

Usage: To turn nouns into adjectives

Examples:

peligro (danger) →  peligroso (dangerous)

poder (power) →  poderoso (powerful)

olor (smell) →  oloroso (smelly)

26. -ano/a

Usage: To turn nouns into adjectives that indicate belonging or origin from the noun

Examples:

Perú (Peru) →  peruano (Peruvian)

Cuba (Cuba) →  cubano (Cuban)

Venezuela (Venezuela) →  venezolano (Venzuelan)

México (Mexico) →  mexicano (Mexican)

27. -dero

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)

28. -adizo

Usage: To form adjectives from verbs (and sometimes nouns) to mean “prone to”

Examples:

manchar (to stain) →  manchadizo (easily stained, prone to staining)

olvidar (to forget) →  olvidadizo (forgetful, prone to forgetting)

quebrar (to break) →  quebradizo (fragile, delicate)

29. -grafo

Usage: The Spanish equivalent of the English ending -graph

Examples:

autógrafo (autograph)

fonógrafo (phonograph)

fotógrafo  (photographer)

30. -iento

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)

 

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