I've always been taught that the gender of the adjective must agree with the noun.

I was speaking to a friend about 'Orange is the New Black' (Netflix series), and couldn't decide how to translate, since there is no definitive subject of the title. Searching the internet gives several different translations, but more generally, I'm curious how one decides which gender to use when there is no obvious subject (if I had to guess, I'd suggest that we'd default to the masculine adjectives).

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    I've answered your question especifically about the color nouns, but I was left thinking what other examples there might be, if any. In this case you asked what happens "when there is no obvious subject", but as you see, this is not the case. Feel free to edit or clarify your question if my answer missed something.
    – pablodf76
    Jun 26, 2017 at 1:12
  • Great answer from Pablo. I will add: no adjectives here. (Noun) is the new (noun). Also in Spanish. // Yes, I think that when there's no clear gender, most often masculine will be assumed; but you can assume feminine sometimes or all the time, if you think no one will get confused. Jun 26, 2017 at 5:42

2 Answers 2


Colors in Spanish usually work as nouns, besides being adjectives. Color nouns are always masculine: el blanco, el negro, el azul, el rojo; even color nouns derived from feminine nouns are masculine: el naranja, el violeta. This is probably because the noun forms are understood as referring implicitly to the word color, which is masculine (el naranja = el color naranja, etc.).

In the English phrase "Orange is the New Black", the subject is "Orange" and both "Orange" and "Black" are nouns, so if we were to translate it literally, it would be El naranja es el nuevo negro. As far as I know this is not done (the title for the Spanish edition of the series is left as in English), which is just as well because the literal translation sounds awful.

You can use the color nouns with the definite article as above, for example, to speak of el azul del mar ("the sea's blue"), or with the indefinite article, for example un verde tan oscuro que parece negro ("a green so dark it looks like black"). This is no different from English, by the way.

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    It is not usually translated, but the literal translation is perfect. The title is a reference to "gray is the new black*, a sentence coined quite a few years ago meaning that gray had replaced black as the colour of choice for smart suits.
    – Gorpik
    Jun 26, 2017 at 6:41

'Orange is the new Black' would be "El naranja es el nuevo negro". This is an ellipsis of "El color naranja es el nuevo color negro". Because the gender is masculine. "Color" is masculine.

Obviously the translation cannot be "El color naranja es el nuevo color negro". That sounds very false (but the original does not sound very true).

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    Jun 26, 2017 at 11:13

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