So I have read that lots of verbs can be converted into an adjective. This can be done by using the Past Participle of the verb. So for verbs ending in -ar you add either ado, ada, ados or adas depending on gender & if its plural. For verbs that end with -ir or -er you can add ido, ida, idos, idas.

There is an example, of using the verb cuidar to be used as an adjective.

somos cuidadosos (we are careful)

In my understanding it should be, somos cuidados from following the rules above. Am I missing something or is this a case where the rules above do not work for the verb cuidar?

  • You can also add -nte, if you mean it does the action rather than has the action done to it, e.g. cuidante (que cuida). Commented Jan 5, 2021 at 3:09

3 Answers 3


You got the rules for forming the verb participle correct. The verb participle can be used in several ways, among them as an adjective, in which case it agrees in gender and number with the noun it modifies. But the meaning is still that of a participle. For example, the participle of manchar ("to stain") is manchado ("stained"), so "Esta camisa está manchada" means "This shirt is stained".

The participle of cuidar is cuidado, which means "cared for", and is generally used with an adverb, e.g. "El jardín parece bien cuidado" ("The garden looks well cared for").

Cuidadoso is not a participle-derived adjective; it's a derivation of the noun cuidado, which means "care" (as in "take care" or "treating something with a lot of care"). The derivation is done by adding -oso (which turns into -osa, -osos, -osas as needed, of course). There are many words with this suffix, but they're not derived from verbs and you cannot derive them from any word you choose; you have to check if they exist in the dictionary, and see what the meaning is. Cuidadoso means "careful", not "cared for". Other similar words you might find useful are ansioso ("anxious"), asombroso ("astounding"), caluroso ("hot"), etc.


Both cuidado and cuidadoso are adjectives with different meanings. Cuidado means "(well) cared for", while cuidadoso means "careful" (although it can also mean "thorough" or "precise"):

  • Ese edificio es viejo, pero está muy bien cuidado

  • Es muy cuidadoso en el laboratorio: nunca ha tenido que repetir un experimento

All (or the vast majority of) participles can function as adjectives. This happens both in Spanish and in English:

  • Estoy cansado (I am tired)

  • Ese plan está bien pensado (That plan is well thought)

  • Encontraron un hospital destruido (They found a destroyed hospital)

There are a few exceptions where the adjective derived from a verb is different from its past participle form:

  • Se ha soltado el pelo / Tiene el pelo suelto

  • Se ha despertado / Está despierto

A list of these can be found here (see the second table), though for many of those verbs, both forms can be adjectives with different meanings (e.g. abstraído / abstracto).


In English there is a similar difference for example between "he is bored" and "he is boring". In Spanish, the rule for the verb participle works to create an adjective that describes the object who receives the action of the verb (Yo pienso un plan / El plan está bien pensado). But there is not a general rule to describe with an adjective the subject of the verb (like "boring").

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