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Gender of colours


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Old November 28, 2021, 11:26 PM
fglorca fglorca is offline
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Gender of colours

All the adjectives of colour below end in ‘-a’, but only some of these also act as a noun.

- fucsia - fucsias
- lila - lilas
- magenta - magentas
- mostaza - mostazas
- naranja - naranjas
- púrpura - púrpuras
- rosa - rosas
- siena - sienas
- terracota - terracotas
- turquesa - turquesas
- violeta - violetas

Is it correct to say that none of these has a gender change i.e., they always end in ‘-a’ for the singular?
Is it also correct to say that the plural can be formed for all of these by simply adding ‘-s’?
In other words, can these adjectives appear in sentences like these ones:

- No me gustan los bolsos turquesas.
- Prefiero los abrigos violetas.

Some sources say you don’t add an ‘-s’ to form the plural, but others say you do.

Many thanks in advance.
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Old November 29, 2021, 03:48 AM
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I would say No me gustan los bolsos turquesa/ de color turquesa.
<<<prefiero los abrigos violeta, rojos, verdes, naranjas , azules.
Prefiero los abrigos de color violeta.
Violeta and turquesa are nouns that's why when used as adjectives they don't change, in order not to confuse the speaker violeta the colours and violetas the flowers.
You can also say me gustan los bolsos de color rojo, in this case we use the singular.
some have a gender: Me gusta tu camisa roja, me gusta tu abrigo rojo. Same with amarillo/a , blanco/a, negro/a

Last edited by ROBINDESBOIS; November 29, 2021 at 03:50 AM.
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Old November 29, 2021, 12:52 PM
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wrholt wrholt is offline
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As Robindesbois indicates, some color names are fundamentally adjectives, and some of them are fundamentally nouns.

When a color name is fundamentally an adjective, the adjective has different forms that agree in number with the noun they describe (i.e., verde/verdes, azul/azules), and some of them also have different forms that agree in gender with the noun that they describe (i.e., rojo/roja/rojos/rojas, blanco/blanca/blancos/blancas).

When a color name is fundamentally a noun, it usually is invariable in form when used adjectivally: that is, it has only one form regardless of the gender and number of the noun it describes. The underlying structure is the phrase "(de color <color name>", (i.e., de color rosa, de color violeta, de color turquesa). In general, it is optional to use the complete phrase "de color <color name>" or to omit "de color".

The structure "de color <color name>" is also perfectly fine for color names that are adjectives: "de color amarillo" and "de color negro" are perfectly fine, and in this case the adjectives are always masculine singular because grammatically they are describing the word "color".

Sometimes as Spanish changes over time a color name that was original fundamentally a noun can acquire the status of being an adjective; that can happen if native speakers generally consider it correct to use different forms for number agreement or for both number and gender agreement.

There's no absolutely fool-proof rule to know instantly whether a particular color name is invariable or has forms for number or gender agreement: we learners have to learn it individually for each color name.
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