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TIP #116 - This tip was sent on the week: 27th Nov - 2nd Dic, 2006

116 The Position of the Adjective in Spanish - Part III

This tip applies to the following programs:

• ESI Professional


Consolidated use has also defined certain combinations of adjective plus noun that work almost like compound nouns, because they don’t allow their components to be inverted. This is the case of:

• idea fija

alta mar

alta calidad

alta densidad / baja densidad

libre albedrío

• sentido común

corto plazo, mediano plazo, largo plazo

largo alcance

altos vuelos

flaco favor

• negocio redondo

benemérita institución

buenos modales

frío recibimiento

among others.


With the following adjectives, the result will be distinctively different in each case:

Un triste funcionario / Un funcionario triste

Pobre edificio / Edificio pobre

Simple discurso / Discurso simple

Alto ejecutivo / Ejecutivo alto

Ciertas teorías / Teorías ciertas

In the case of nuevo –and its antonyms viejo and antiguo-, the differentiating nuance resulting from the order of adjective placement is as follows:


Haga pasar a un nuevo cliente = Some other client different from those that have already been there, regardless of the how long he has been a client.

Haga pasar a un cliente nuevo = One who has just become a client, a recent one.

Esta es la llave de la vieja puerta = The door before that one, the one that was replaced.

Esta es la llave de la puerta vieja = The door that is very old, that has been around for a long time.



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