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In English, generally we say or write adjective + noun, like the full moon or brown dog.

Does order matter in Spanish, for instance Hablo un poco español vs. Hablo español un poco?

  • I provided an answer regarding the position of the adjetive to the noun. Although the title of your question includes also "the verb", it is not addressed in the body of the question, and actually I think it could deserve its own question (to get better and more specific answers). Thus I edited your question's title. Please rollback the changes if you think they conflict with your original intention. – Diego Dec 3 '15 at 19:51
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    "Un poco" is not an adjective but an adverb (or rather an adverbial phrase). – Rodrigo Dec 4 '15 at 10:39
  • Check out this answer spanish.stackexchange.com/questions/328/… – DGaleano Dec 23 '15 at 19:03
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Order, definitely, matters. Can be tricky to see with your example (Hablo un poco espanol vs. Hablo espanol un poco) since "poco" can work both as adjetive and adverb.

The other examples are easier. For "full moon" we would say "la luna llena", never, "llena luna" and for "brown dog" we would say "perro marrón", never "el marrón perro".

But here comes the tricky part. Could you actually see (or hear) "la llena luna" and "el marrón perro"? The answer is yes. Is that because the order or position of the adjetive in respect of the noun does not matter in Spanish? No.

The adjective can actually be placed before or after, but sometimes you can change the meaning by doing that, since the adjective will qualify the name in a different way.

The meaning does not change in "el perro marrón" vs. "el marrón perro". The appreciation may change though. More or less, a postponed adjetive gives you an "objetive" appreciation of the noun ("La casa pequeña", the house was small in size. "el coche amarillo", the car was in fact yellow) while an adjetive that precedes the noun is more likely to be a "subjective" appreciation ("la triste mirada", sounds more poetic and subjective than "la mirada triste". "El radiante sol").

Other times, the meaning changes dramatically, like "el viejo amigo" vs. "el amigo viejo". The later means that the friend is old in age. The former that the guy has been a friend for quite some times (but still could be young in age).

So, basically, "noun + adjetive" is used to stress a quality of the noun through the adjetive. "Adjetive + noun" remarks an "inherent" quality of that noun" (like, "la dura roca". All rocks are hard. The adjetive is remarking it. It not like I'm using the adjetive to qualify, like I would do to distinguish between two things (like, "la roca pequeña" vs. "la roca grande" or "El perro inteligente" vs. "el inteligente perro").

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