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Recently, while at the “gimnasio” (gym), I noticed something interesting. After finishing my workout, I decided to order a small bottle of water at the juice bar.
So I asked the “muchacha” working at the juice bar for “una botella de aqua” (bottle of water). As she reached for an oversized bottle of water, I said “la botella pequeña” (small bottle). But before she could grab it, I suddenly changed my mind and said, “No, un jugo pequeño, por favor” (no, a small juice, please).
The next person in line then requested “una botellita de aqua,” and then the next person ordered “un juguito.”
That’s when I realized how often Spanish speakers use ‘diminutives’ to indicate smallness. Spanish speakers frequently use diminutives not only to indicate size but also to make a word sound less harsh or even to indicate affection.
How To Say Small In Spanish
Below you will find a list ‘diminutives’ followed by nouns that are modified by the Spanish adjective “pequeno/a” (small).
1. botellita – botella pequeña(small bottle)
2. relojito – reloj pequeño(small watch)
3. bolsita – bolsa pequeña(small bag)
4. bolsito – bolso pequeño(small bag as in a woman’s carrying bag)
5. juguito – jugo pequeño(small juice)
6. librito – libro pequeño(small book)
7. hombrecito – hombre pequeño(small man)
8. muñequita – muñeca pequeña(small doll or small wrist)
It is also very common to hear native Spanish speakers use diminutives when taking about “cosas” (things) for “bebes.”
ropita (clothing for babies)zapaticos (baby shoes)teterito (baby’s bottle)amiguitos (what children call their friends)
As I mentioned above, Spanish speakers frequently use diminutives not only to indicate size but also to make a word sound less harsh or to indicate affection. Here’s an example of using a diminutive to express affection:
Ella le dio un besito a su marido.She gave her husband a kiss.
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Now here’s an example of using a diminutive to make a word sound less harsh. A few days ago, here in Medellin, Colombia a “vagabunda” (homeless woman) — or as they say in Colombia “gamina” (homeless woman), tried to get my attention on the street to ask me for “una limosna” (a hand-out). In order to get my attention and not sound too harsh, she said “negrito, negrito” instead of “negro, negro.”
In Colombia, black Colombians do not consider it offensive to be called “negrito” or even “negro.” Since I am not Colombian, I did feel a bit offended. But I still gave her some “monedas” (change/coins).