Whenever I have a list of multiple singular nouns in Spanish, I don't know if the modifying adjective should be singular or plural (update: note that I want this one adjective to modify both preceding nouns).


El médico tiene la autoridad para restringir la libertad de un paciente con tal de que sea necesario para dar el cuidado médico y tratamiento adecuado.

Or should it be el cuidado médico y tratamiento adecuados or something else?

Can someone please help me identify the correct way to do it, and why?


A parallel to this question that makes me think of it is this example with nouns and verbs: La ropa y el equipaje del paciente serán devueltos. Notice you have two singular nouns followed by a verb conjugated in the third person plural.

1 Answer 1


It depends.

If you mean that both nouns have the same property, then the adjective is plural.

[cuidado médico adecuado] + [tratamiento adecuado] = cuidado médico y tratamiento adecuados

On the other hand, if the property pertains only to the noun with which it's attached, then the adjective is singular.

[cuidado médico] + [tratamiento adecuado] = cuidado médico y tratamiento adecuado

In the sentence that you give us by example it's really difficult to distinguish one meaning from the other, so I would say both forms are fine.

But sometimes the grammatical difference implies a critical difference in reality:

Una esfera y un cubo blanco. (Here the sphere is not necessarily white.)

Una esfera y un cubo blancos. (The sphere is white).

  • 2
    Qué útiles son los paréntesis matemáticos para estas situaciones. Así sería más fácil ver la diferencia entre (una esfera) y (un cubo blanco) y (una esfera y un cubo) blancos.
    – fedorqui
    Feb 7, 2017 at 11:11
  • 1
    I would add that besides number, there's also gender agreement. If all the noun phrases are feminine, the adjective will be feminine; if any of them is masculine, the adjective will be masculine.
    – pablodf76
    Feb 7, 2017 at 12:24

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