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TIP #120 - This tip was sent on the week: 1st - 6th Jan, 2007


Expressive Or Appreciative Suffixes In Spanish


This tip applies to the following programs:

• ESI Professional


They are the ones traditionally classified as “diminutive” (on one hand), and “augmentative” (on the other hand) and “pejorative” suffixes (as a different). But those labels are not meant to be taken as rigid descriptions of the suffixes’ actual purport. In practice, all of them execute multiple functions, to the extent that in many cases, their functions are reciprocally exchanged.


It is overwhelming how often Spanish words develop from expressive suffixes, the considerable number of suffixes themselves, and the great variety of circumstances under which they are used. Therefore, it’s not an issue that can be omitted when approaching real, live Spanish.


The suffixes under discussion can be added to most parts of speech, except for articles, prepositions or conjunctions. All the rest –common or proper nouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs- can indeed incorporate appreciative suffixes in a wide range of scenarios.



First Type: Augmentative Suffix


In Hispanic-American Spanish, the most common augmentative suffix is presented in two more or less alternate forms: «-ón (masculine), -ona (feminine)” or else “-ote (masc.), -ota (fem.)».


Using nouns

problemón, casona, casota, orejotas, narizota, corazonzote.


Using adjectives

grandote, buenote, comodona, elegantón, sabrosón.


Using adverbs

arribota (by using duplication as an intensifier, other degrees are attained: “arribotota”, and in a higher level “arribototota”).

It is rather common as well to derive verbal adjectives using the appreciative suffix, thus:

From mandar = mandón

From llorar = llorón

From regañar = regañón, etc.

As for Iberian dialects of Spanish, there is some preference for «-azo, -aza» as the preferred augmentative suffix, and it’s applicable to any noun, i.e. 'caraza’, ‘bocaza’, ‘perrazo', to some adjectives, and even to adverbs, as in ‘muchazo’. This does not mean the other above-mentioned suffixes are not equally used, too.


Note that also many a feminine noun shifts into masculine when the augmentative is added. As a result, words such as the following have surged:

aldaba → aldabón

cuchara → cucharón

pared → paredón

sala → salón

pizarra → pizarrón

botella → botellón

In all instances above, the word is not perceived as an augmentative any longer, but as an autonomous unit in itself.


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