Using the diminutive suffix -ito, -ita, -itos and -itas with words ending in -o/-a/-io/-ia

In Spanish, instead of adding the adjective pequeño (= small or little) we can use the diminutive suffix -ito, -ita, -itos or -itas. The suffix not only indicates a diminutive size, but in some cases, it can add a nuance of affection, or soften the meaning of the actual word.

With words ending in -o/-a/-io and -ia, the rule is to replace these endings by the suffix.

With nouns and adjectives the suffix needs agreement in gender and number.

Have a look:

Masc sing   Fem sing    Masc pl    Fem pl   
   -ito    -ita   -itos  -itas

Read and listen to these examples:

El pajarito voló del nido.
The little bird flew its nest. [pájaro → pajarito]

La mesita es verde.
The little table is green. [mesa → mesita]

Los libritos de vocabulario eran muy útiles.
The little vocabulary books were very useful. [libro → libritos]

Las lamparitas del salón lucen bastante bien.
The little lamps in the living room shine quite well. [lámpara → lamparitas]

Tienes la cara morenita.
Your face is (nicely) tanned. [morena → morenita, softened]

Mi sobrino es muy bajito.
My nephew is very short. [bajo → bajito, affectionate]

 With adverbs, however, we only use the suffix -ito or-ita.
  • Adverbs ending in -o take the -ito suffix.
  • Adverbs ending in -a take the -ita suffix.

Have a look and listen to these examples:

¡Come despacio!
Eat slowly!

¡Come despacito!
Eat slowly!

Te espero afuera.
I'll wait for you outside.

Te espero afuerita.
I'll wait for you outside.

In the second and fourth examples, the words slowly (despacio) and outside (afuera) are softened and meant in an affectionate way when adding the suffix (despacito - afuerita).

Sometimes adding the suffix to the word requires a spelling change to maintain the original sound of the word. This is going to happen with words ending in -co and -go.

Have a look and listen to these examples:

  • poco a bit

Dame un poquito de agua, por favor.
Can a have a little bit of water please?

  • abrigo = coat

Tu abriguito está en la percha.
Your little coat is on the peg.

 

See also Diminutivo.

 

Learn more about these related Spanish grammar topics

Examples and resources

El pajarito voló del nido.
The little bird flew its nest. [pájaro → pajarito]


Tienes la cara morenita.
Your face is (nicely) tanned. [morena → morenita, softened]


Te espero afuera.
I'll wait for you outside.


Mi sobrino es muy bajito.
My nephew is very short. [bajo → bajito, affectionate]


Te espero afuerita.
I'll wait for you outside.


Las lamparitas del salón lucen bastante bien.
The little lamps in the living room shine quite well. [lámpara → lamparitas]


Los libritos de vocabulario eran muy útiles.
The little vocabulary books were very useful. [libro → libritos]


¡Come despacito!
Eat slowly!


Tu abriguito está en la percha.
Your little coat is on the peg.


La mesita es verde.
The little table is green. [mesa → mesita]


¡Come despacio!
Eat slowly!


Dame un poquito de agua, por favor.
Can a have a little bit of water please?


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