In a question and answer some time ago about the salutation Estimados todos there was general agreement that it is incorrect to use an adjective to qualify a pronoun although the usage might be permissible in informal cases.

This set me thinking that if you cannot do that there must be some way round it. Let us look at a couple of example situations.

You want to describe the person to whom you are talking. So something unfortunate has happened to them and you would say in English "Poor you". I suppose for this specific example you might leave off the pronoun and hope it is obvious. It occurs to me that ¡Pobrecito! might work assuming that is the correct affectionate diminutive but then again pobrecito is probably a noun anyway. However what about more complex examples like the line from Girl Crazy "sweet embraceable you"?

What about if you want to talk about yourself? You have made some minor slip so you say in English "Silly me!". Just saying ¡tonto! runs the risk that bystanders may think you are talking about them.

Just to clarify I am not asking for translations of those particular examples but suggestions about general principles which might be followed. I do appreciate that not all constructions map one-to-one between languages either.

2 Answers 2


I find at least three possible structures in Spanish to enable the coupling of an adjective with a pronoun.

  1. Adjective + de + objective/subjective pronoun (according to the pronoun involved): Pobre de mí / Pobres de nosotros

This "Poor me/Poor us" interpretation seems to apply only to the first person. In the second and third persons, it sounds like a threat, at least in my country: Pobre de ti / Pobre de él (You have/He has no idea what is in store for you/him.)

  1. Qué + noun denoting the emotion/situation in question + article + possessive pronoun (referring back to the noun): Lucky you: Qué suerte la tuya. Another possible way to express this is the more emphatic: Tú sí que eres afortunado / Tú sí que tienes suerte.

  2. The more formal: Qué + adjective + de (possessive) parte. Example: Qué tonto de mi parte.

  • Great answer. I wouldn't have a problem with "pobre de tí" or "pobre de él", personally. // I'll add some variants: "¡Qué tonto/tonta soy/fui!" ¡Ah, que soy tonto/tonta! // To say that someone else is tonto, in our family we soften it and say "tontuelito". ("El tontuelito de Papá....) Oct 19, 2017 at 0:16
  • And I agree with what appears to be your position, that "sweet embraceable you" is better left untranslated. Oct 19, 2017 at 0:22

In Spanish we have several ways to achieve what you want.

Let's begin with the silly me case. For that we have the verb ser, used in the future tense expressing probability or uncertainty. Just say:

¿Seré tonto?

Of course, you can use this construction for other people:

¿Serás tonto?

Nonetheless, this construction is only used in negative contexts, even when used with positive words as it may express feelings such as envy:

¿Será listo el tío que se ha sacado la carrera en tres años?

For positive contexts I prefer to use another constructions. So let's move to the sweet embraceable case:

¡Eres achuchable!
¡Qué achuchable eres!
¡Anda que no eres achuchable (ni ná)!

Note: the ni ná ending is optional, Andalusian slang. :-)

So the previous example can be transformed to:

¿Te has sacado la carrera en tres años? ¡Anda que no eres lista!

Of course, in some cases just saying the adjective (maybe in a diminutive form) is right, as happens with pobrecito, that's perfectly understood.

The general principle is that we do not say "tonto yo" or "achuchable tú", so we transform the construction "adjective + pronoun" into some other, more comfortable construction for us, such as "pronoun + to be + adjective" and its variants.

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