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#305 – Making things smaller or bigger in Spanish

Corporate Spanish Trainer

Making things smaller or bigger in Spanish

Diminutives and Augmentatives




Post 305/365
Es jueves, 25 de enero de 2018



Buenos días y bienvenidos a Spanish Blog 365


Let’s talk about diminutives and augmentatives. These are endings we put the back of a word to make it smaller or to show endearment or to make it bigger.
Spanish speakers are very fond of these endings. You’ll hear them a lot.

1. diminutives – smaller and endearment

These endings range from:

-ico/a – Costa Rica, Colombia (regional)

Note: stem-changes apply to c, g, z – just like we saw yesterday

poco > poquito – a little bit > a very little bit

¿Habla inglés?
Muy poquito

hermano > hermanito – brother > little brother – could mean size, but usually age (younger), but also endearing
abuelo > abuelito – grandpa > grandpoppy – endearing
Juan > Juanito – John > little John (when he was young)
Miguel > Miguelito – Michael > little Michael (when he was young)
gato > gatito – cat > kitten
amigo > amiguito – friend > little friend (talking about kids)
cuchara > cucharadita – (table)spoon > teaspoon

limpio > limpiecito – clean > beautifully clean

pobre > pobrecito – poor > poor (little) thing
una flor > una florecita – a flower > a (cute) little flower

una ventana > ventanilla – a window> a small window or a ticket window (at theater or train station)
una silla > una sillita – a chair > a little chair
cigarro > cigarillo – cigar > cigarette

2. augmentatives – larger in size, can also mean unattractive

These endings range from:


a silla is a chair and a sillón is a big armchair
una caja is a box and a cajón is a crate or a big box

This ending can be used to refer to people’s behaviors. It’s based on a verb.
burlarse > burlón – to mock, to make fun of > mocking, always making fun of

There is a Mexican story about the crying woman:
llorar > la llorona 

grande > grandote – big > really big (and can be meant in a unattractive way)
una palabra > una palabrota – a word > a big, (bad/dirty) word


Nota final: The Costa Ricans are called the Ticos. It is understood that they got this name because they use the diminutive -ico/a instead of -ito/a

un momento, por favor – just a moment, please
un momentito, por favor – just a quicky, short moment
un momentico, por favor – Costa Rica, Colombia usage


Action steps: When you listen to people speak, notice the use of these endings. Enjoy!

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Gracias y hasta mañana,