Diminutives are suffixes that are added to the endo of nouns and some adjectives and adverbs to express small size or other values (affection, irony, etc.). In Spanish, there are several diminutive suffixes: -ito / ita (the most common), -ico / -ica, -illo / -illa, and -ín / -ina.

In Spanish, diminutives are used to talk to young children, indicate something small, express affection, and give a friendly tone to an utterance. Diminutives are also used to provide a nuance of meaning that is difficult to translate into English. For instance, diminutives can be used:

  • To express politeness (e.g., Ahorita lo atiendo)
  • To diminish a pejorative (e.g., Está gordito)
  • As intesifiers (e.g., Es igualito a su padre)
  • To convey irony (e.g., ¡Vaya cochecito!) 
  • To convey contempt (g., Se compró un cochecillo)

REGULAR DIMINTUTIVES

IRREGULAR DIMINUTIVES

The diminutive suffix -illo may also be used to give words a special meaning.  For example:

  • Ventana (window) and ventanilla (ticket window)
  • Bomba (bomb/pump) and la bombilla (light bulb)
  • Manzana (apple) and la manzanilla (camomille)
  • Palo (stick) and palillo (stick; toothpick)
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