Let’s learn some Spanish! Today is all about diminutives. Diminutives = suffixes that are added to words in order to indicate smallness. Diminutives are HUGE in Spanish(*pun intended lol). They truly are a phenomenon in colloquial Spanish. Diminutives are wonderfully versatile, magic little words that add that special something to Spanish. If you really want to get good at Spanish & perhaps sound like a native Spanish speaker, it is essential that you master diminutives.
“Diminutives”, the word alone truly does explain it’s essence & main usage, but like I said, this is a versatile magic little tool in Spanish. There is much more that can be done with a diminutive suffix than just make a something small. Diminutives are suffixes that, by making something smaller express bigger feeling than regular word usage. Diminutives are used constantly by both MEN & Women. Although it might seem at first to some by the sound of the word diminutive that diminutives might give a sappy, effeminate sound to sentences, but the truth is that diminutives make a person’s speech sound more polite , refined, & fun. So they are a very important part of the language, & it is perfectly normal for a gentleman to use them.
BASICS : The most common Spanish diminutive suffixes are -ito and -cito along with their feminine equivalents, -ita and -cita. In theory, these suffixes can be added to almost any noun, and they are sometimes used with adjectives and adverbs as well. The rules aren’t hard and fast as to which suffix is used; the tendency is that words ending in -a, -o or -te form the diminutive by dropping the final vowel and adding -ito or -ita, while -cito or -ecito is added to other words. -Spanishabout.com
Other than the basic ones there are other’s that exist , Also commonly used as a diminutive suffixes are -illo and -cillo along with their feminine equivalents, -illa and -cilla. But often times these are reserved to form nouns, as adjectives or adverbs they tend to make things sound trivial and insignificant. The best advice for diminutives since the rules aren’t exactly fixed and 110% consistent is: practice, practice, practice and you will soon pick up the pattern, become intimate with it’s usage, & it will become natural for you.
*To indicate something is small. EXAMPLES: Casa= house. Casita(small house, cottage), Perro= dog. perrito(puppy), Rosa= rose. rosita(little rose, rose blossom). Oso= bear. Osito = bear cub/ little bear. Conejo= rabbit. Conejito = Bunny
*To indicate fondness. Or that something is charming or endearing. EXAMPLES: Abuela= Grandmother. Abuelita(my dear grandmother), Mi papipto(my daddy), Tu cochecito (your nice/cute, charming little car). Amigo= friend. Mi amiguito= mi nice/dear friend. El librito que queria comprar= the book I really wanted to buy. Hijo= son. Mi hijito= My dear/darling son.
*To indicate Youth. EXAMPLES: Joven = youth. Jovencito(very young, gentle, tender youth) Señora=lady. Señorita= young lady. Bebe= baby. Bebito= very infant child.
* To provide a nuance of meaning, especially with adjectives and adverbs. EXAMPLES : Ahora= now. Ahorita(right now), Cerca= Close. Cerquita (right next to), Luego= Later. Luegito (quite soon), Gordo= Fat. Gordito (chubby).
*To denote familiarity. Often names undergo changes in the diminutive between friends & those close to the person : Jorge= Jorgito, Nancy=Nancita, Carlos= Carlitos, Maria Eugenia =Genita, Lola=Lolita, Guadalupe= Lupita, Jose= Josesito, Mariana= Marianita , Ramon= Ramoncito… etc . This is in order to soften the adress to the person & thus in turn conotes and indicates: love, friendliness, & even respect. Here’s some illustrations: If you are angry at someone, they might call your name in the diminutive to make you feel less angry, if someone needs a favor from you , or if a stranger has heard your name & wants to appeal to you in a friendly and respectful way they might soften your name with a diminutive.
*Familiarity & objects: Libro= book. Mi librito = the book I always read, my favorite book. Sueter= sweater. Mi suetersito= the sweater I always wear/ my fav sweater, Taza=cup . mi tazita = my favorite cup/the cup I often drink from. Tienda = store. Nuestra tiendita= Our fav store, the store we frequent.
*To soften a statement or question, comand & mark it with friendliness. EXAMPLES: Un momento. = Just a moment. Un momentito(Just a brief moment please), Rato = A period of time = Quedate un ratito mas por favor(Stay a little while longer please), Refresco= Soft drink. Quisiera un refresquito. (How I’d just love a soft drink.), Despacio= Slowly. ¡Despacito! (Easy does it!), Manzana= apple. Comete una manzanita= won’t you have an apple? No me prestas tantito dinerito? = Could you be so kind as to lend me a bit of money?
Me das una mordidita de tu pastel? (Can I have a little bite of your cake?) , Me haces un favorcito?= Can you pretty please do a tiny little favor?, Mami le da una planchadita a mi camisita? = Mom would could you pretty please iron my shirt for me?, Con permiso= excuse me. Con permisitio= Would you please excuse me? * This kind of speech sounds very friendly & polite. If you are late or just made a faux pas , you can use a diminutive to make light of things, and lessen the tension of the situation. Or to give your apology with humility & sincerity. No te fijes no mas fue un errorsito = it was just a little mistake, don’t worry about it.
*To talk to very young children: pajarito (birdy), camisita (shirty), tontito (silly), vaquita(cowie). Ven voy a amarrarte tu zapatito= here let me tie your little shoe for you, Jugete= toy. Toma tu jugetito= Here’s your toy sweetie.
*To indicate something is unimportant: Dolor= pain. dolorcito(just a little pain), mentirita( a little fib), me faltan unos centavitos(I’m just a few cents short), Nomas tome un pedacito= I just took a little piece
*When speaking to: a spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend, to adress the opposite sex: Dame un besito= Give me a little kiss. Como estas amorcito ? = How are you my dear love/cutie ? Cuando tenga dinero te comprare un carrito= When I have money, I will buy my cute little car, my self my own little car. A girl can use diminutives to sound very girly or a guy can use them to sound cute & polite to a girl. Te parece un cafecito? Would you like to go for a cup coffee? * sounds very friendly & social.