Unit 15: Past perfect subjunctive, word families, relative pronouns, and passive voice

15.5 Word Families

In section 15.4, one sees how many adjectives and nouns can be made into verbs. It also stands true that many adjectives can be made into nouns. The common suffixes attached to adjectives are –ura and –ez (or –eza). These suffixes tend to refer to abstract ideas and correspond to English endings such as “-ness,” “-ship,” or “-ity”:

blanco white
blancuzco whitish
blancura whiteness
emblanquecerse to become white

Other adjective-to-noun examples include:

loco crazy
locura craziness
viejo old
vejez old age, oldness

Many of the nouns ending in –ura have masculine variants ending in –or (amargorblancorverdor), which are less common and essentially synonymous, though some parts of the Spanish-speaking world differentiate between the two, using the –ura form for the figurative and the –or form for the literal. Context should make it clear which one is indicated.

Study the following examples of adjectives and nouns. You do not need to memorize them. Focus on recognizing the pattern.

amargo bitter
la amargura bitterness
dulce sweet
la dulzura sweetness
flaco thin, skinny
la flaqueza thinness, weakness
gordo fat
la gordura fatness
puro pure
la pureza purity
sencillo simple
la sencillez simplicity
tierno tender, soft
la ternura tenderness
triste sad
la tristeza sadness
verde green
la verdura greenness; vegetable



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