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Using 'Grande'

Adjective Usually Means 'Big' or 'Great'


Volcano Arenal

La montaña es grande. (The mountain is big.)

Photo by Arden; licensed via Creative Commons.

Grande is among the most common adjectives of Spanish and one of the first to be learned by students.

The most common meaning of grande is simply "big" or "large":

  • Viven en una casa grande. They live in a large house.
  • Mi nieta tiene las manos grandes como su padre. My granddaughter has big hands like her father.
  • Madrid es una ciudad grande. Madrid is a large city.

Sometimes, grande can refer to being comparatively old (as "big" can be in English): Cuando sea grande voy a ser dentista. When I'm older, I'm going to be a dentist.

Grande can also refer specifically to height, rather than size per se: En baloncesto un jugador grande y bueno siempre será mejor para el equipo que uno bajo y bueno. In basketball, a tall, good player will always be better for the team than a short, good player.

Especially when it comes before the noun, grande can refer to someone or something being notable. Note than when grande comes before a singular noun, it is shortened to gran:

  • Gorbachov dijo que Ronald Reagan fue un gran presidente. Gorbachev said Ronald Reagan was a great president.
  • Fue una gran película ignorada por la prensa. It was a great film ignored by the press.

Unos dicen que el calamiento global es la gran mentira de nuestro día. Some say global warming is the huge lie of our day.

In matters of geography, grande can refer to the larger metropolitan area of a city: La pesca comercial proporciona alrededor de 10.000 empleos en el gran Seattle. Commercial fishing employs about 10,000 workers in the Seattle area.

Grande is also used in various phrases:

  • en grande — as a whole
  • grandes mentes, grandes pensadores — great minds
  • el gran mundo — the upper social class
  • el hueso grande — the capitate bone (of the hand)
  • la semana grande — the final week of Lent, from Palm Sunday to Easter

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