LECCIÓN XLIV. Aumentativos y diminutivos.

Aproximar. | To approach, to draw near.
Apurar. | To perplex, to press.
Aullar. | To howl.
Ladrar. | To bark.
Cuidar. | To take care of.
Dejar. | To leave, to let.
Emplear. | To employ.
Matar. | To kill.
Permitir. | To permit.
Robar. | To rob, to steal.
Imponer. | To impose.


214. AUGMENTATIVE AND DIMINUTIVE NOUNS are those derivatives which serve to augment or diminish the signification of their primitives; not only in regard to size, but also to esteem, character, dignity, importance, &c.

They are formed by adding various terminations to the primitive nouns, dropping generally the vowel, if it end in one.

The terminations which are used are very numerous; but those most frequently adopted are azo, on, ote, ísimo for the augmentive masculine, and aza, ona, ota, ísima for the augmentive feminine nouns.

These terminations are equivalent in their meaning to the English words big, large, stout, tall, and such like; as,

Cuchara. | Spoon.
Dulce. | Sweet.

Cucharón. | Ladle.
Dulcísimo. | Sweetest.

But the nouns which have those terminations are not always augmentatives, since the nouns pistoletazo, pistol shot; cañonazo, cannon shot; garrotazo, blow of a bludgeon, do not augment the signification of their primitives, pistola, cañón and garrote, and consequently are not augmentatives.

The terminations most used as diminutives are in, illo, ito, ico, eteyiielo or ejo, for the masculine; the feminine are formed by adding a to the termination in, and by changing the final vowel of the others into a.

Many of the diminutive terminations may acquire a still further diminutive signification, by adding other terminations to them; thus.

Chico. | Small.
Chiquito. | Very small.
Chiquitito. | Very, very small.

The manner of applying these terminations, as much for their different meanings as for their various orthographical accidents, admits of so much variety that practice seems the only means of acquiring the proper use of them; as.

Mi hermanito. | My little brother.
Un hombrecito. | A little man.
Un viejecito. | A little old man.
Él es un picarillo. | He is a little rogue.
Una pobre viejecita. | A poor little old woman.
Mi probrecico hijo (or mi pobre hijito). | My poor little son.
Un ladronzuelo. | A petty young thief.

215. Besides the terminations mentioned, there are many others which may be called irregular, inasmuch as they can be affixed to certain nouns only, among them the most irregular are those of persons; as,

Francisco, Paco, etc. | Francis, Frank.
José, Pepe, etc. | Joseph, Joe.

216. Although the diminutives proceed in general from substantive nouns, as we see by the preceding examples, they are also formed, in familiar style, from adjectives, participles, gerunds, and even from adverbs; thus we not unfrequently say:

Revoltosillo es el muchacho. | The boy is rather turbulent.
Muertecito de frío. | Half dead with cold.
Todito el día. | The whole day over.
Pan calentito. | Warm bread (slightly warm).
Apuradillo estuvo. | He was somewhat embarrassed.
Lejitos esta tu casa. | Your house is pretty far away.

217. Primitive words, ending of themselves in any diminutive termination (such as cepillo, brush ; abanico, fan ; espejo, looking-glass, &c.), cannot take an additional termination similar to their own, without producing a disagreeable sound, which ought always to be avoided. Words ending in ito or ita are excepted.

The same termination may often serve to express affection pity, contempt, &c., being in this respect like the interjections, and it is consequently very difficult to classify them.

Very often their real meaning can be distinguished only by the nature of the conversation and the intonation of the voice. They are, nevertheless, not to be used too profusely, because when they come too close together they render the discourse monotonous, in consequence of the similarity existing between them.

218. There are in Spanish other derivatives, formed more or less at fancy, and which are not augmentatives or diminutives, although they may appear to be such; these might be called depreciatives (despreciativos), because there is always in them something of censure, maliciousness, or mockery ; as,

Casa, casucha. | House, miserable-looking house.
Caldo, calducho. | Broth, poor broth.


Vaya de cuento. | To begin my story.
Como iba diciendo do mi cuento. | As I was saying (in my story).
A mi costa. | At my expense, to my cost.
Ya te veo venir. | I see what you are at.
Venir a pelo. | To suit exactly, to be apropos.
De sopetón. | Unexpectedly.
Cuanto mas. | The more.
¡Por Dios! | For Heaven’s sake!
¡He! | Ho! hoa! What?
¡Oiga! | Indeed! Just listen!
Chico. | Little, small.
Revoltoso. | Noisy.
Caliente. | Hot, warm.
Apurado. | Embarrassed.
Burlón. | Jester, scoffer.
Natural. | Natural.
Aumentativo. | Augmentative.
Diminutivo. | Diminutive.
Pícaro. | Rogue, rascal.
Satisfecho. | Satisfied, contented.
Cuento. | Tale, story.
Corro. | Group of persons.
Cojo. | Lame.
Brazo. | Arm.
Ademan. | Attitude.
Caldo. | Broth.
Pistoletazo. | Pistol shot.
Lugar. | Place.
Garrote. | Bludgeon.
Cañón. | Cannon.
Cañonazo. | Cannon-shot.
Ladrón. | Thief, robber.
Anécdota. | Anecdote.
Mosca. | Fly; tiresome person.
Necesidad. | Necessity, need.
Pierna. | Leg.
Boca. | Mouth.
Pistola. | Pistol.
Estratagema. | Stratagem.
Costumbre. | Custom.
Clase. | Class.


– Lo aprendí a mi costa.
– I learned it to my cost.

– Antes no te había comprendido, ahora ya te veo venir.
– I did not understand you before, but now I see what you are at.

– El me dio la noticia de sopetón.
He gave me the news unexpectedly.

– ¡Por Dios! Francisco, no hables de eso.
– For Heaven’s sake! Mr. Francis, do not speak of that.

– ¿Conoces a aquel hombre? Sí, es el marido de mi vecina María.
– Do you know that man? Yes, he is the husband of my neighbor Mary.

– ¿Es ese hombre cojo? Sí; en la ultima guerra recibió un pistoletazo en una pierna.
Is that man lame? Yes; in the last war he received a pistol shot in one of his legs.

– Carlota, ve a cuidar de tu hermanita.
– Charlotte, go and take care ‘of your little sister.

– Ese niño es un picarillo.
– This child is a little rogue.

– Esa niña está muertecita de frío.
– That little girl is almost dead with cold.

En las lecciones de este blog se ha seguido la obra de

Alberto de Tornos “The Combined Spanish Method”. D. APPLETON ~ COMPANY (New York) 1869


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