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Michael: What are augmentatives?
Laura: And how do you use them in Spanish?
Michael: At SpanishPod101.com, we hear these questions often.
In the following situation, Ben Lee, a college student, wants to share his excitement about the success of a group project with his friend. He says,
“It’s a success!”
Ben Lee: ¡Es un éxito!
Ben Lee: ¡Es un éxito!
Silvia Ramírez: ¡Un exitazo!
Once more with the English translation.
Ben Lee: ¡Es un éxito!
Michael: “It’s a success!”
Silvia Ramírez: ¡Un exitazo!
Michael: “A great success!”
Michael: Did you notice how Ben’s friend replaces the word,
Laura: éxito,
Michael: with
Laura: exitazo?
Michael: She attaches the suffix
Laura: -azo
Michael: to the word to create what’s called an “augmentative.” To “augment” means “to make larger or greater,” and this is exactly what these expressive suffixes do to a noun. They emphasize that something is big or of great importance. The suffixes
Laura: -azo, -aza
Michael: are commonly used to intensify qualities and give a positive connotation to the nouns. In this case, Ben’s friend is highlighting how very successful their project is.
Michael: Let’s take a closer look. Do you remember how Ben’s friend says,
“A great success!
Laura: ¡Un exitazo!
Michael: Here, she’s attached the suffix,
Laura: -azo,
Michael: usually translated as "striking” or “great,” to the noun that Ben used,
Laura: Éxito.
Michael: This suffix is used to turn masculine nouns into augmentative nouns, as in the above example. To change a feminine noun into an augmentative noun, one would instead attach the suffix
Laura: -aza.
Michael: For instance, we can attach it to the word,
Laura: amiga,
Michael: to say “a great girlfriend” or
Laura: amigaza.
Michael: Let's hear a couple more examples.
Laura: carrazo,
Michael: means "an amazing car."
Laura: jefaza.
Michael: "A great female boss."
This is just one pair of suffixes to create augmentatives. But there are more. Next is the suffix,
Laura: -ón,
Michael: which is used with masculine nouns, and the suffix,
Laura: -ona,
Michael: Is used with the feminine ones. This pair of suffixes, however, is often regarded as a pejorative and is likely to have a disrespectful or derogatory meaning, so use it carefully. For example, the word,
Laura: cabezona,
Michael: derived from the word,
Laura: cabeza,
Michael: meaning “a woman with a big head,” is derogatory, but the word,
Laura: notición,
Michael: is a simple augmentative meaning “big news” and carries no negative connotations. Furthermore, this suffix can be used to compliment someone, such as in the word
Laura: buenón
Michael: meaning “good looking.”
The last pair of suffixes are
Laura: -ote
Michael: for masculine nouns and
Laura: -ota
Michael: for feminine ones. These are commonly used with names and adjectives that apply to people. They’re also used for making things seem bigger. They can have a more affectionate sense or can be a soft way of making fun of someone. This pair of suffixes is less commonly used in a pejorative sense, compared to the pair we learned before,
Laura: -ón
Michael: and
Laura: -ona,
Michael: but keep in mind, that by saying something is “big”, it might come across as an insult. It depends on the intention of the speaker. For example, the word,
Laura: muchacho,
Michael: meaning "boy," can be made into the word,
Laura: muchachote
Michael: literally meaning "big boy." This could be used, for example, by your father as a kind of joke. Another example, this time with a feminine noun, is
Laura: amigota,
Michael: literally, “big friend.” It can be used as an affectionate or derogatory way to refer to a friend. Again, this depends on the speaker’s intention and intonation.
Michael: So far we have learned that the augmentatives are expressive suffixes that emphasize size or importance. We can create an augmentative noun by adding one of the suffixes
Laura: -azo, -aza, -ón, -ona, -ote, -ota,
Michael: at the end of a noun.
Michael: Now let’s look at some examples. First is
Laura: perrazo, perrote, perrón (enunciated).
perrazo, perrote, perrón.
Michael: This noun can be used with any of the three augmentative suffixes, and in each case they have a slightly different connotation.
Laura: perrazo
Michael: Suggests that the dog is a good dog, while the others simply refer to its size. This is also the case with the word,
Laura: libro,
Michael: meaning “book.” Its augmentative forms will be
Laura: librazo, librote, librón (enunciated).
librazo, librote, librón.
Michael: The first,
Laura: librazo,
Michael: refers to its quality, suggesting that it’s an “amazing book.” The others simply refer to its size.
Michael: The suffix -azo, is used not only to make augmentatives, but also to express a hit or strike when used with certain nouns meaning a tool or utensil. In such cases, it explains an action performed with that tool. For example,
Laura: bastón,
Michael: meaning "stick," becomes
Laura: bastonazo
Michael: and means "to hit with a stick." The same happens with
Laura: pelota
Michael: or "ball." It becomes
Laura: pelotazo
Michael: meaning "to hit with a ball."
Michael: Let's review. Respond to the prompts by speaking aloud. Then repeat after the Spanish speaker, focusing on pronunciation.
Do you remember how Ben Lee says,
"It’s a success!"
Laura as Ben Lee: ¡Es un éxito!.
Michael: Listen again and repeat.
Laura as Ben Lee: ¡Es un éxito!.
¡Es un éxito!
Michael: And how Ben’s friend says,
"A great success!"
Laura as Silvia Ramírez: ¡Un exitazo!
Michael: Listen again and repeat.
Laura as Silvia Ramírez: ¡Un exitazo!
¡Un exitazo!
Michael: While in many cases more than one of the suffixes can be used to create an augmentative of the same meaning, some versions will be used more frequently than others. Augmentatives are usually colloquial, and they can carry either positive or negative meaning, depending on the speaker’s intention. While we mostly focused on augmentative nouns, the endings can also be applied to adjectives. For example you can attach any of the suffixes we just learned,
Laura: -azo, -ón, ote
Michael: to turn the adjective
Laura: bueno,
Michael: meaning, “good,” into the adjectives
Laura: buenazo, buenón, buenote
Michael: meaning “great” or “good looking,” depending on the context.
Michael: Great job. Now you know how to use augmentatives in Spanish. That’s all there is to it!
Be sure to download the lesson notes for this lesson at SpanishPod101.com — and move onto the next lesson!

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