The most common ending for dimunutives is ito/ita. However, in certain countries, you will also see ico/ica when the last letter of the affected word is a ‘t.’ Other endings include: illo/illa, ín/ina, ete/eta.
The use of diminutives in Spanish often indicates that something is small. For example, gato is cat, so gatito is a small cat or kitten. It does not have to be a physical thing, it also works for figurative ideas such momento, which means moment, becomes momentito or momentico to mean a quick/short moment.
Diminutives are also used to indicate affection of some kind. When ito/ita is added to the end of a name, it doesn’t always mean that person is particularly small. It’s more often a way of showing affection towards that person. For example, Fernandito could be a full-grown man, but someone you really feel close to. In addition, -ITO occurs frequently in relation to children. Adults will say things such as besitos or juguito (instead of besos and jugo) simply because they are using a version of baby talk with the child.
It is very common to hear pobrecito/a. Pobre, on its own, simply means “poor,” but when you add the ito/ita it conveys the idea of “you poor thing.” Also in the case of pobrecito it may also be used sarcastically as in “you poor little thing” for example, when you complain that your week on the beach went poorly because you ran out of ice for your piña coladas.
In some cases, the diminutive can actually change the meaning of a word. For example, camisa means shirt, while camiseta means T-shirt. Other examples include:
|Botica – Drugstore||Botiquín – Medicine cabinet|
|Ventana – Window||Ventanilla – Teller’s window or car windows|
|Carro – Car||Carrito -Cart|
|Carreta – Wagon||Carretilla – Wheel barrow|
When changing a word to the diminutive -ito or -ita, you might be confused on how the conversion is spelled. It could be -sito or -cito. A quick tip is that if the original word ends in S then maintain the S and add the -ito. If it ends in any other letter then add -cito. A couple examples are:
Peso = peSito
Fiesta = fiesteCita
Arroz = arroCito
For three uses of the diminutive ending -ito in Chile, check out this recent post on 6 Grammar Hints to Speak Like a Chilean. Now that you know diminutives, check out our post on augmentatives.
What other diminutives are missing from the post?
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Featured photo credit: Tiniest Smart Car by jma.work via flickr