Spanish Word of the Day Archive
Wednesday February 19, 2014

-ito, suffix:
little...

-ito is the most common suffix of all, and we’ve already seen how it often just adds the idea of little:

Le pusieron una mesita para escribir.
They gave him a little table to write on.

Especially in Latin America, adding -ito to a word gives it an emotional shade of meaning, such as affection:

Es el cumpleaños de mi abuelita.
It’s my grandma’s birthday.

Se ha lastimado, pobrecito.
He’s hurt himself, poor guy.

Notice that in the previous examples the affectionate nuance is not translated. In the next examples, expressing approval, it is

¿Te preparo una sopita?
Shall I make you some nice soup?

Quiero que te levantes tempranito.
I want you to get up nice and early.

-ito can also intensify the word it applies, acting like a superlative:

Estaba solito.
He was all on his own.

Cuidado, que los platos están calentitos.
Be careful, the plates are very, very hot.

You may have noticed the form pobrecito in one of the examples. You add -cito or -cita to words ending in -e. Why don’t you try it with hombre, madre, padre?
ANSWERS: hombrecito, madrecita, padrecito.


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