Bueno, malo, grande become buen, mal, gran before a noun (apócope)

Most adjectives usually come after a noun but the singular masculine adjectives bueno (good) and malo (bad) have special short forms - buen and mal - which can be used before the noun. They have a slightly stronger meaning when used like this.

See and listen to these examples:

Mi padre es un hombre bueno.
My dad is a good man.

Mi padre es un buen hombre.
My dad is a good man.

He tenido un día malo.
I have had a bad day.

He tenido un mal día.
I have had a bad day.

Similarly, grande (big), has a short-form gran which can also be used before the noun. Unlike buen and mal, gran can also be used with feminine nouns.

Gran has a more figurative meaning of great or fantastic when used like this.

Nueva York es una ciudad grande.
New York is a big city.

Nueva York es una gran ciudad.
New York is a great/fantastic city.

Silvia tiene un gran corazón.
Silvia has a big/generous heart. 

Note: The general term for short forms like these is "apócope".


NB: The plural forms stay the same even if used before the noun. For example:

Tengo buenos recuerdos de mi infancia.
I have good memories of my childhood.

Lucía y Raquel son chicas buenas.
Lucía and Raquel are good girls.

En Oxford y Salamanca hay muy buenas universidades.
Oxford and Salamanca have very good universities.

See also Position of adjectives in Spanish.

Learn more about these related Spanish grammar topics

Examples and resources

Lucía y Raquel son chicas buenas.
Lucía and Raquel are good girls.


Mi padre es un buen hombre.
My dad is a good man.


En Oxford y Salamanca hay muy buenas universidades.
Oxford and Salamanca have very good universities.


Silvia tiene un gran corazón.
Silvia has a big/generous heart. 


He tenido un día malo.
I have had a bad day.


Nueva York es una ciudad grande.
New York is a big city.


He tenido un mal día.
I have had a bad day.


Nueva York es una gran ciudad.
New York is a great/fantastic city.


Tengo buenos recuerdos de mi infancia.
I have good memories of my childhood.


Mi padre es un hombre bueno.
My dad is a good man.


Q&A Forum 4 questions, 5 answers

StuartB1Kwiziq community member

Use of gran/de in the negative sense

Would it be fair to say that in a negative situation you would not use gran?

So, it would not be un gran atasco, but un atasco grande? (a big traffic jam)

Muchísimas gracias,


Asked 2 months ago
InmaKwiziq team member

Hi Stuart

Well,  if the noun used is a negative word itself, e.g. atasco, problema... then both gran and grande will be negative, so, the negativity is brought more by the noun, not the adjective.

Saludos

Inma

Use of gran/de in the negative sense

Would it be fair to say that in a negative situation you would not use gran?

So, it would not be un gran atasco, but un atasco grande? (a big traffic jam)

Muchísimas gracias,


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LindaC1Kwiziq community member

Article not needed?

On the quiz, the question was: Es ________ hora; ven más tarde.  

My answer was “una mala” and it was marked wrong.  It was supposed to be just “mala”. 

Could please explain why “una mala” is incorrect? It didn’t mention anything in the text about not using the article.  Thanks.

Asked 2 months agosite design
InmaKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Hola Linda,

For that specific sentence I added a hint saying that you do not need to use any article. I hope that helps students when answering the question. It is a set phrase that we use with no article "Es mala hora/Es buena hora".

In reference to the song "Para bailar la bamba" (nice one :))) "Yo no soy marinero, soy capitán, soy capitán, soy capitán..." Here the absence of the article is because when you talk about professions saying what you are/do for a living, with the verb "ser" you omit the article, unlike in English "I am a sailor, I am a captain...". 

-Yo soy profesora de español, ¿y tú?

-Yo soy camarero.

I hope this is useful 

Un saludo cordial

Inma

 

LindaC1Kwiziq community member

Oh, wait.  I think I remember the rule about not using the article after ser, as in the song: “Yo no soy marinero, soy capitán.”    I guess this is the reason?

Article not needed?

On the quiz, the question was: Es ________ hora; ven más tarde.  

My answer was “una mala” and it was marked wrong.  It was supposed to be just “mala”. 

Could please explain why “una mala” is incorrect? It didn’t mention anything in the text about not using the article.  Thanks.

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BonnieC1Kwiziq community member

My dictionary says 'hran' is only before masculine nouns, but you say m&f. Is there a difference in dialects? Got it wrong using dictionary.

Dictionary is Webster's New Spanish Dictionary with Latin American Spanish.
Asked 1 year ago
InmaKwiziq team member

Hola Bonnie

"Gran" can be placed before a masculine or feminine noun, for example "un gran hombre" or "una gran mujer". It is different to other short forms like "buen" where you can only place it befor a masculine noun, not a feminine noun, for example "un buen hombre" but "una buena mujer".

Saludos

My dictionary says 'hran' is only before masculine nouns, but you say m&f. Is there a difference in dialects? Got it wrong using dictionary.

Dictionary is Webster's New Spanish Dictionary with Latin American Spanish.

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RossC1Kwiziq community member

Mala would normally follow the noun? Una mala influencia??

Asked 2 years ago
InmaKwiziq team member
Hola Ross, adjectives in Spanish are generally positioned after the nouns but sometimes they can be placed in front. This is normally to emphasise the meaning. : ))
Ross asked:View original

Mala would normally follow the noun? Una mala influencia??

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