As the famous saying goes, “colors are a language everyone understands”. No matter how beautiful the quote sounds, the truth is you are also going to need to be able to word them in the language you are learning, if you want to become fluent.
But no worries, colors in Spanish are really easy to remember, especially with all the tips and examples we are going to share with you throughout this article!
First, let’s take a look at several most commonly used colors in Spanish!
The grammar of Spanish colors: rules to bear in mind
In English, adjectives are static words, their endings never vary depending on the noun nor on their grammatical context.
However, in Spanish, all adjectives must have the same gender and number as the noun they are accompanying. And it is not the only rule that is different.
This makes Spanish grammar a little bit more difficult, but don’t worry, you will master it with our help!
These are all the grammatical rules of the colors in Spanish you must bear in mind:
- The color always comes after the noun
- Colors must agree with the gender of the noun
- Colors must agree with the number of the noun
- When used as nouns, colors are always masculine
Let’s explore them more in depth.
Word order of the colors in Spanish
As previously mentioned, in Spanish, colors are adjectives. Like any other adjective, they appear after the noun in a sentence. It’s exactly the opposite as in English.
The colors in Spanish must agree with the gender of the noun
Nouns in Spanish have a gender, they can be either masculine or feminine. Since adjectives (and thus colors) must agree grammatically with the noun they describe, their gender must also be the same as the one of that noun.
Adjectives (and therefore colors) change their word endings in order to undergo such grammatical transformations.
When it comes to gender, the only transformation that is needed is to change the -o ending (of those adjectives that end with -o) for an -a when the noun is feminine. If the word is masculine, no transformation is needed.
1- If the color ends with -o, and the noun is masculine, no transformation is needed:
El coche rojo me encanta (I love the red car)
Había visto un árbol amarillo (I had seen a yellow tree)
2- If the color ends with -o, and the noun is feminine, we need to change the -o for an -a:
La ventana roja está cerrada (The red window is closed)
Había visto una casa amarilla (I had seen a yellow house)
Warning: There is only one exception for this rule: the color “índigo” should always end with -o.
3- For all the other endings, no changes are necessary when it comes to grammatical gender
Me encanta el jardín verde (I love the green garden)
Había visto una casa verde (I had seen a green house)
La casa azul (the blue house)
El camino azul (The blue path)
In reality, all of this can be summarized into one straightforward rule; when the color ends with -o, and the noun ends with -a, just change the ending of that color/adjective to -a.
The colors in Spanish must agree with the number of the noun
Adjectives (and therefore colors) must have the same number as the noun they describe.
In order to achieve such grammatical concordance, we only need to follow one simple rule:
If the noun is in the plural form, we need to add an -s to the adjective at the very end of the word if it ends with a vowel, and -es if it ends with a consonant.
La casa verde // Las casas verdes (The green house // The green houses)
(Here the adjective, “verde”, ends with a vowel, therefore we just have to add -s)
La casa amarilla // Las casas amarillas (The yellow house // The yellow houses)
(Here the adjective, “amarilla”, is in the feminine form because “casa” is a feminine noun. We only need to add an -s at the end, because the adjective ends with a vowel)
El coche azul // Los coches azules (The blue car // The blue cars)
(“Azul” ends with a consonant, therefore we need to add -es instead of -s in order to get the plural form).
When used as nouns, colors are always masculine
In Spanish, colors can also be used as nouns when they represent an entity. When used as nouns, all colors should be treated in the masculine form, even if they end with -a.
Me gusta el rosa (I like pink)
(Note that the noun, “rosa”, is being treated as a masculine noun, despite the fact that it ends in -a)
El azul es mi color favorito (Blue is my favourite color)
How to use the verb to be (ser/estar) with colors in Spanish
If we want to say that something is a certain color, we must use the form “ser”. Note that the adjective must still agree in gender and number with the noun.
El coche es rojo
(The car is red)
La casa es amarilla
(The car is yellow)
Los coches son rojos
(The cars are red)
However, if we want to say that something is a given color but just temporarily, we use “estar”.
El coche es blanco, pero está tan sucio que está negro
(The car is white, but it is so dirty it is black)
Las paredes están rojas por el deterioro
(The walls are red due to their deterioration)
Color-related expressions in Spanish
A good way to take your Spanish to the next level is to use popular expressions. They will make you sound much more fluent and knowledgeable of the language. When it comes to colors, there are many expressions directly or indirectly related to them.
Here are the most famous color-related expressions in Spanish, hope you use them!
1- Poner verde a alguien (to badmouth someone)
Pusieron a Sara verde cuando no estaba presente
(They badmouthed Sara when she was not present)
2- Ponerse morado (It literally means “to satisfy a desire or a need in excess”. For instance, if you are hungry and you eat a lot to sate it, you are “poniéndote morado”).
Estaba muy hambriento, pero en el restaurante me puse morado
(I was very hungry, but in the restaurant I pigged out)
3- Quedarse/Ponerse blanco (To go white)
Jamás me lo hubiera esperado. Cuando me enteré, me quedé blanco
(I would have never imagined it. When I realized it, I went white)
4- Quedarse en blanco (To go blank)
Me quedé en blanco en el examen, no me acordaba de nada
(I went blank in the exam, I didn’t remember anything)
5- Comerse un marrón (To take the blame for something or to have to deal with something undesired and of great magnitude)
Hoy he tenido que comerme el marrón por todas tus irresponsabilidades
(Today I have had to take the blame for all your irresponsibilities)
How to remember the colors in Spanish?
There are scientifically based tricks to boost the speed at which we memorize things. Today we will show you our favourite one, applied to the colors in Spanish. If you want to memorise them faster, you only need to do two things:
1- Take a phonetic or written part of the word in Spanish and derive meaning from it (maybe it is similar to a word or a set of words in English, maybe it is similar to the acronym of a football team, etc…)
2- Make a visualization in your mind involving the meaning of the word and the newly derived meaning. This visualization should be as implausible, absurd, and fun as possible.
If you are not feeling very creative, don’t worry, below we have left you some helpful visualization examples:
Rojo (red) : take the first part of the word, “ROJ”. It reminds us of the word “ROYAL”. In order to remember the word “Rojo”, just imagine that all royal people have red faces, and that that’s what makes them royal.
Azul: “Azul” is very close phonetically to the word “ASH”. Just imagine all ashes are blue because they contain water.
Verde: “VER” is similar to “VERacity”. Just imagine that, if something is green, then it is by law veracious.
Negro: “NEG” is similar to “NEGotiate”. In order to NEGotiate, people must always wear black suits. Else it is punishable by law.
Blanco: it is very similar to “BLANK”. We are going to leave this one up to you!
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