Your Ultimate Guide to Spanish Antonyms
Spanish antonyms are just like their English counterparts—they include adjectives, nouns, and verbs that allow you to express opposite ideas.
In fact, they’re the opposite of Spanish synonyms.
Actually, you could say that synonyms are the antonyms of antonyms.
(You see what I did there?)
In this blog post, I cover the fascinating world of Spanish antonyms. I explain in detail what they are, why you should learn about them, and what types of Spanish antonyms exist. Furthermore, I share a long, comprehensive list of Spanish antonyms divided into adjectives, nouns, and verbs.
What Are Spanish Antonyms?
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, an antonym is “a word of opposite meaning.”
Opposite of what? You may ask, and you have a point, as the concept of “opposition” can only be understood as “opposition to something.”
The same dictionary tries to clarify its definition with the following example:
“The usual antonym of good is bad.”
And there you have a crucial characteristic of antonyms: they come in pairs, just as synonyms do.
Good is the antonym of bad, in the same way and proportion as bad is the antonym of good.
Spanish antonyms work in the exact same way: bueno is the antonym of malo, just as malo is the antonym of bueno.
Why You Should Learn About Spanish Antonyms
Most importantly, learning Spanish antonyms helps you to improve your vocabulary.
Every new Spanish word you learn is a step closer to total fluency and makes it just a bit easier to express your thoughts to others.
What’s more, studying Spanish antonyms helps you to understand the concepts or realities that they describe. For instance, bueno and malo describe the concept of calidad or “quality,” while the antonyms frío (cold) and caliente (hot) describe the concept of temperatura (temperature). This way, the use of antonyms can build your vocabulary to describe the variations of a concept or reality.
You may have noticed that more than once I’ve mentioned the word “describe” in relation to antonyms and that’s because, in many cases, antonyms are adjectives. So, learning Spanish antonyms also helps you to master Spanish adjectives.
3 Types of Spanish Antonyms
While English grammar accepts the existence of only two types of antonyms (graded and complementary), Spanish antonyms include a third category: reciprocal antonyms.
Let’s take a look at each to give you a better idea of what you’re dealing with.
1. Graded Antonyms
Graded antonyms allow you to express different shades of opposition to another term. For example, the adjectives “lukewarm,” “cold,” and “frozen” are graded antonyms to “hot.”
Let’s see them in Spanish:
caliente – tibio, frío, helado.
2. Complementary Antonyms
These antonyms are mutually exclusive—meaning that when one exists, the other ceases to exist.
For example, if you’re young, you can’t be old. And when you get old, you cease to be young.
Other good examples of complementary antonyms are “single” and “married,” “alive,” and “dead.”
joven – viejo
soltero – casado
vivo – muerto
3. Reciprocal Antonyms
With reciprocal antonyms, one of the words cannot exist without the other. For example, “buying” and “selling,” or “giving” and “receiving.”
comprar – vender
dar – recibir
Learning some of the most common and useful pairs of Spanish antonyms will dramatically improve the quality of your conversations!
This section is organized into three categories:
Spanish Antonyms as Adjectives
Using Spanish antonyms as adjectives helps you to describe things and people (also known as nouns in grammar), which make them helpful words to know that always come in handy.
|alto – bajo||tall – short|
|largo – corto||long – short|
|grande – pequeño||big – small|
|abierto – cerrado||open – closed|
|brillante – oscuro||bright – dark|
|justo – injusto||fair – unfair|
|old – new||viejo – nuevo|
|antiguo – moderno||ancient – modern|
|divertido – aburrido||fun – boring|
|bonito – feo||pretty – ugly|
|hermoso – horrible||beautiful – horrible|
|ancho – angosto||wide – narrow|
|frío – caliente||cold – hot|
|fuerte – débil||strong – weak|
|caro – barato||expensive – cheap|
|duro – blando||hard – soft|
|lleno – vacío||full – empty|
|soltero – casado||single – married|
|vivo – muerto||alive – dead|
|fácil – difícil||easy – difficult|
|mucho – poco||a lot, many – a little, few|
|mejor – peor||best, better – worst|
|limpio – sucio||clean – dirty|
|delgado – gordo||thin – fat|
|sabio – ignorante||wise – ignorant|
|listo – tonto||smart – silly|
|inteligente – estupido||intelligent – stupid|
|bueno – malo||good – bad|
|interesante – aburrido||interesting – boring|
|correcto – incorrecto||right – wrong|
|activo – pasivo||active – passive|
|dormido – despierto||slept – awake|
|completo – incompleto||complete – incomplete|
|acertado – equivocado||accurate – wrong|
|alegre – triste||joyful – sad|
|feliz – infeliz||happy – unhappy|
|mojado – seco||wet – dry|
|sano, saludable – enfermo||healthy – sick, ill|
|valiente – cobarde||brave – coward|
|blanco – negro||white – black|
|cerca – lejos||near – far|
|concreto – abstracto||concrete – abstract|
|dulce – salado||sweet – salty|
|humilde – orgulloso||humble – proud|
|igual – diferente||equal, same – different|
|legal – ilegal||legal – illegal|
|ligero – pesado||light – heavy|
|mayor – menor||bigger – smaller|
|novato – veterano||novice, rookie – veteran|
|optimista – pesimista||optimistic – pessimistic|
|posible – imposible||possible – impossible|
|probable – improbable||probable – improbable|
|rico – pobre||rich – poor|
Spanish Antonyms as Nouns
Learning Spanish antonyms as nouns is a bit more complex as they require dealing with concepts, which tend to be more abstract than adjectives.
On this list, I don’t include nouns that have already been covered as adjectives. (For example, I omit bien – mal or “good – evil” as I covered them previously.)
|love – hate||amor – odio|
|verdad – mentira||truth – lie|
|éxito – fracaso||success – failure|
|amigo – enemigo||friend – enemy|
|arriba – abajo||up – down|
|futuro – pasado||future – past|
|adentro – afuera||inside – outside|
|derecha – izquierda||right – left|
|activo – pasivo||active – liability (accounting)|
|día – noche||day – night|
|luz – oscuridad||light – darkness|
|guerra – paz||war – peace|
|pregunta – respuesta||question – answer|
|inicio – final||beginning – end|
|problema – solución||problem – solution|
|tarde – temprano||late – early|
|acción – reacción||action – reaction|
|victoria – derrota||victory – defeat|
|orden – caos||order – chaos|
Spanish Antonyms as Verbs
Finally, let’s explore some useful pairs of antonym verbs.
|Construir – destruir||To build – to destroy|
|Abrir – cerrar||To open – to close|
|Ganar – perder||To win – to lose|
|Aceptar – rechazar||To accept – to reject|
|Afirmar – negar||To affirm – to deny|
|Hablar – callar||To speak – to silence|
|Unir – separar||To join – to separate|
|Liberar – oprimir||To liberate – to oppress|
|Buscar – encontrar||To search – to hide|
|Valorar – despreciar||To value – to despise|
|Comprar – vender||To buy – to sell|
|Cobrar – pagar||To collect – to pay|
|Recordar – olvidar||To remember – to forget|
|Perdonar – castigar||To forgive – to punish|
|Comer – ayunar||To eat – to fast|
|Acelerar – frenar||To speed up – to brake, to slow down|
Practicar – Olvidar
“To practice – to forget.” While these verbs aren’t exactly antonyms, they prove an important point! If you practice your newly learned Spanish antonyms, you’ll keep growing your Spanish vocabulary and will improve your understanding of adjectives and nouns. If you don’t practice what you’ve just learned, you’ll quickly forget this lesson and everything about Spanish antonyms.
So, the question is, what are you going to do?
Sign up for a free class with one of our certified, native Spanish-speaking teachers from Guatemala, and start using Spanish antonyms in your conversations today!
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