Spanish diminutivesDiminutivos

In Spanish, suffixes called diminutives can be added to nouns, adjectives, adverbs, and names to indicate smallness, as well as other ideas such as affection, humor, pity, irony, or ridicule. In this way, you can say that something is little without adding an adjective like pequeño to indicate smallness or querido to indicate affection.

Diminutives change to match the gender and number of the word they modify.  Common Spanish diminutives:

masculine -ito -cito -ecito
feminine -illo -cillo -ecillo

Basically there are two different diminutives, –ito and –illo, but other letters may need to be added depending on what the modified word ends in.

1. For most words, including those that end in any vowel other than E, drop the final vowel and add –ito or –illo:

ahora now   ahorita right now
hermano brother   hermanito little brother
Juana Jean   Juanita Jeannie

2. Words with more than one syllable that end in E, N, R, or a stressed vowel take –cito or –cillo:

una joven young girl   jovencita young lady (endearing)
mamá mama   mamacita mommy
pintor painter   pintorcito third-rate painter
pobre poor   pobrecito poor little thing

3. Words with one syllable that end in a consonant take –ecito or –ecillo:

flor flower   florecita little flower
pan bread   panecillo roll

There are also some spelling changes related to diminutives, which are similar to those that occur with spelling-change verbs and noun plurals (learn more):

chica girl   chiquita little girl
Diego James   Dieguito Jimmy
pedazo piece   pedacito little piece

 Related lessons

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