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Old June 22, 2009, 05:05 PM
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Join Date: May 2009
Location: en el norte de Inglaterra
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Originally Posted by AngelicaDeAlquezar View Post
I'm late for replying to this topic, but I've been meditating on what determines the place of adjectives in Spanish. As it's been said, there is no rule; order and place of adjectives rather respond to euphonic and rhetorical criteria.

—> El perro hambriento, flaco y pulgoso
—> Un juego adictivo y peligroso
—> Un estado obeso, ineficiente y despilfarrador
—> Un gobierno depurado, eficaz y optimizador
—> El jardín enorme, soleado, colorido/El enorme jardín soleado y colorido/El colorido jardín, soleado, enorme
—> El soltero más guapo, rico y codiciado
—> Un amigo honesto, leal y generoso
—> Un feo departamento oscuro, húmedo y lúgubre/Un departamento feo, húmedo, oscuro y lúgubre/Un departamento lúgubre, oscuro, húmedo y feo
—> La mesa roja, grande pesada y apolillada/La gran mesa roja, pesada y apolillada/La mesa grande, roja, pesada y apolillada.
—> Un poderoso dictador sanguinario, arbitrario y corrupto

—> Un pájaro con un plumaje negro azulado tornasol brillante.
(No commas here, because "azulado", "tornasol" and "brillante" modify another adjective, so they work together like one.)

Just a couple of notes:

● Many times, a rhetoric progression or escalation determines the order of adjectives:

—> Una enfermedad incurable, progresiva y mortal (It wouldn't make much sense "progresiva" or "incurable" after "mortal")
—> Un anciano débil, enfermo, indefenso ("débil" and "enfermo" pave the way to "indefenso")

● There are some adjectives that usually sound better when placed right beside the substantive, like those that express personal appreciation ("bonito", "feo", "nuevo", etc.), size ("grande", "chico", "enorme", etc.), colour ("rojo", "azul", "amarillo", etc.):

—> Un viejo baúl herrumbroso/Un baúl viejo y herrumbroso
—> Una gruesa carpeta roja/Una carpeta roja gruesa
(Btw, colours tend to be placed right beside the substantive)

● Adjectives of which depends an essential characteristic of the substantive aren't separated from it:

—> Un disco flexible azul
—> Las serpientes venenosas tropicales
—> Un cuadro renacentista restaurado
("Cuadro renacentista", "serpientes venenosas" and "disco flexible" should stay together, because both adjective and substantive are like a substantive only)

● When there are several adjectives in one sentence, we tend to place at least one of them before the substantive, to avoid a long chain of adjectives afterwards.

—> "La célebre conferencista ciega" is preferred to "la conferencista ciega célebre"
—> "El talentoso actor venezolano" is preferred to "el actor venezolano talentoso"

(Also, the adjective placed before a substantive emphasizes one quality over the others; in this case, "célebre" and "talentoso". If one says "la ciega conferencista célebre", one would be stressing that she's blind rather than her fame.)

● Sometimes, a substantive placed before an adjective charges the sentence with an ironic sense, but the context will provide the meaning:

—> "El famoso doctor no ha llegado" could either mean that a non-famous doctor has kept us waiting or that we're expecting a really famous one to arrive (to a conference, perhaps).

● Nationalities are always placed immediately after the substantive:

—> El genial artista africano
—> Una nueva montaña rusa enorme
—> La implacable policía soviética/la policía soviética, implacable
—> El fino casimir inglés
—> El desorientado turista alemán/el turista alemán, desorientado
Wow! You've put a lot of thought and effort into this wonderful, interesting and instructive response. I suspect that these three adjectives all have the same priority, but I would personally rank wonderful a little higher than the others. Thanks Angelica.
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