Colors in Spanish

colors in spanish
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Have you ever heard this expression?

para gustos, los colores – to each his own

It means that there are as many opinions as there are colors. 

 

Now let’s study the vocabulary of colors in Spanish (basic colors and color palettes) and practice grammar related to them. Colors play a major role in describing people, places, animals, and objects, as well as speaking like a native speaker. Let’s go!

Basic Colors in Spanish

We’ve got you covered for the basic colors in Spanish. If you’re looking for something more in-depth, then keep reading!

       amarillo yellow

       azul blue

       rojo red

       verde green

       violeta violet

       rosa, rosado  pink

       naranja orange

       marrón brown

       blanco white

       gris grey

       negro black

More Colors: Primary, Secondary, Cool and Warm

Let’s start with the basics. Do you know what los colores primarios y secundarios (EN: the primary and secondary colors) are?

Primary colors or pure colors are amarillo, azul, and rojo. They are those that have not been mixed with any other color.

Secondary colors are the result of mixing two primary colors: verde (yellow + blue), violeta (blue + red), and naranja (yellow + red).

And what is the mixture of a primary color with a secondary color called? Colores terciarios (EN: tertiary colors). For example:

       amarillo-anaranjado yellow-orange

        azul-verdosoblue-green

Colors can also be divided into cálidos (EN: warm) or fríos (EN: cool) according to the color theory of the nineteenth century.

Cool colors are those that inspire tranquility, and calm and we associate them with winter and forests:

        turquesaturquoise

        ciancyan

        índigoindigo

        azulblue

        violetaviolet

Warm colors evoke joy, activity, and fun:

        escarlatascarlet

        rojo – red

        naranja – orange

        amarillo – yellow

        verde-limónlemon-green or yellow-green

Therefore, blue, violet, and many types of green are cool colors, but yellow, orange, red, and some shades of pink and green are warm colors.

PRACTICE!

Let’s play a bit! What color are you?
Choose the answer that describes you best and find out what color you are according to your personality!

After seeing the basic colors, we can go one step further and talk about color scheme in Spanish. There are many shades and hues of one color. For example, a color can be dark or strong, such as navy blue, or light or soft, such as sky blue or light blue.

Pastel and Fluorescent Colors in Spanish

But there are also pastel and fluorescentes (EN: pastel and fluorescent).

Pastel colors are very soft shades of colors. To talk about them you just have to add the word pastel after the name of a color:

        amarillo pastel – pastel yellow

        azul pastel – pastel blue

        verde pastelpastel green

On the contrary, fluorescent colors are very intense and striking shades. They are also colloquially called colores chillones (EN: loud/garish colors) that “shout” or “speak” very loudly because they attract a lot of attention. To talk about them we just add the word fluorescente after the name of a color:

        amarillo fluorescente – fluorescent yellow

        azul fluorescente – fluorescent blue

        verde fluorescente fluorescent green

pink pastel
Mi dormitorio es rosa pastel - My bedroom is pastel pink
pink sandals
Mis chanclas son rosa fluorescente - My flip-flops are fluorescent pink
PRACTICE!
Besides describing people, animals, objects, or places, colors identify sports teams. Color is a fundamental characteristic that differentiates soccer teams.For example, La Roja is the Spanish national soccer team and La Vinotinto is the Venezuelan national soccer team. You probably know the color of many sports teams’ clothes. Whenever they wear more than one color, we identify them using both colors. Here are some examples:
barcelona

Fútbol Club Barcelona
azul + granate = azulgrana

El jugador azulgrana marcó un gol en el último minuto.

El azulgrana = El futbolista del equipo azulgrana (Fútbol Club Barcelona).

tenerife

Club Deportivo Tenerife
blanco + azul = blaquiazul

Los blanquiazules jugaron un partido increíble.

Los blanquiazules = Los futbolistas del equipo blanquiazul (Club Deportivo Tenerife).

When there are more than two colors, it’s done differently. For example, the Ecuadorian national soccer team (amarillo, azul, and rojo) is called La Tricolor, because it has three colors.

In the Olympic Games, the medals also have colors.

        la medalla de orothe gold medal

        la medalla de plata the silver medal

        la medalla de bronce the bronze medal

But what happens when we want to talk about shades similar to these metals?

gold car

Mi coche es dorado.
My car is gold.

keys

La llave de nuestra casa es plateada.
The key to our house is silver.

ring

Tengo un anillo bronce, pero es de plástico.
I have a tan ring, but it’s made of plastic.

We can also use them to identify tones:

watch

Tu reloj es gris plata.
Your watch is silver grey.

car

El coche de mis abuelos es amarillo oro.
My grandparents’ car is golden yellow. 

makeup

No me gusta ese marrón, prefiero el marrón bronce.
I don’t like that brown, I prefer bronze brown.

Grammar Rules

Colors in Spanish as Nouns or Adjectives

Colors can be used as nouns (Blue is my favorite color) or adjectives (I prefer blue blouses).

The names of the colors are all masculine: el rojo, el negro, el turquesa,… 

There are also some colors that can be used as personal names, normally for women, and are pretty common in the Hispanic world: Blanca, Violeta, Rosa, and Lila. Used in masculine some colors are surnames like Blanco or Rojo.

However, if they accompany a noun it has to function like any other adjective, e.g., it can be masculine or feminine, singular or plural.

Variable Color Adjectives in Spanish

Color adjectives function like other normal adjectives. They have to agree in gender (masculine or feminine) and in number (singular or plural) with the noun they accompany. 

This is how the colors work: blanco, negro, amarillo, rojo, rosado.

SINGULAR PLURAL

-o (masculino)
rojo

+s
rojos

-a (femenino)
roja

+s
rojas

Other colors only have a different form for the plural and singular. The masculine and feminine have the same form.

  • La camiseta marrón. Las camisetas marrones.  
  • El libro marrón. Los libros marrones

In this way we use the colors: marrón, azul, verde y gris.

SINGULAR PLURAL

-consonante/-e

azul
verde

+es

azules
verdes

Invariable Color Adjectives in Spanish

Finally, colors that also represent other objects (flowers, precious stones, fruits, etc.) are usually used as invariables.

In this group of colors we have: naranja, turquesa, lila, violeta, rosa, coral,…

Attention:

These adjectives can also be used as variables with plural nouns, but they are always gender invariant.

Los edificios corales del centro de la ciudad son muy modernos. 

Esos jarrones violetas no son míos, son de Luisa. 

Esos jarrones violetos no son míos, son de Luisa.

PRACTICE!

SER or ESTAR When Speaking About Colors?

To describe the physical characteristics of people, animals, objects, and places we use the verb SER + the corresponding color.

Los habitantes de Venus son azules – The inhabitants of Venus are blue

Mi gato Manolo es gris – My cat Manolo is grey

El jarrón que compró Marta es verde turquesa – The vase that Marta bought is turquoise green

La casa de mis abuelos era amarilla y estaba en un lugar que era muy verde. Había árboles por todas partes – My grandparents’ house was yellow and it was in a place that was very green. There were trees everywhere

When we use colors with the verb ESTAR we speak of physical states (estar blanco/a, estar rojo/a) and not of physical characteristics.

pink shirt

-La camisa es rosa. ¡Es muy bonita!
+Sí, es preciosa. 

pink tshirt

-¡Oh, no! La camisa está rosa. ¿Qué ha pasado?
+Lo siento. He puesto mis calcetines rojos con la ropa blanca.

aliens

-Mamá, ¿los extraterrestres son rosas?
+No lo sé, mi niña. A lo mejor son verdes o azules.

faces

Estás muy blanca. ¿Estás bien, Ana?
+No, creo que necesito azúcar. ¿Y tú? Estás muy rojo.
-Es normal. Es que vengo del gimnasio y tengo mucho calor.

Therefore, we use the verb SER to talk about physical characteristics and the verb ESTAR to talk about physical states.

Expressions with Colors in Spanish

Spanish English

Para gustos, los colores.

-Mi película favorita es Amélie
+¿En serio? Pero si es muy aburrida.
-Bueno. Para gustos, los colores.

To each his own.

-My favorite movie is Amélie. 
+Really? But it's so boring.
-Well. To each his own.

No hay color.

-¿Qué tal tu ordenador nuevo?
+¡Genial! Funciona muy bien y no tengo problemas continuamente como con mi viejo ordenador.
-¡Claro! Es que este es nuevo y más moderno. ¡No hay color!

There's no comparison!

-How's your new computer?
+Great! It works great and I don't have problems all the time like with my old computer.
-Of course! It's just that this one is new and more modern. There's no comparison!

Ser más raro que un perro verde.

-¿Estás comiendo pizza con una cuchara?
+Sí, claro. 
-Eres más raro que un perro verde

To be an odd duck.

-Are you eating pizza with a spoon?
+Yeah, sure. 
-You're an odd duck.

Dar luz verde.

-El presidente ha dado luz verde al nuevo proyecto. 
+¿Ya? Pero si no tenemos el dinero para hacerlo.

To give a green light.

-The president has given the green light to the new project. 
+But we don't have the money to do it.

Poner verde a alguien.

-Martina y Lucía no tienen muy buena relación, ¿verdad?
+¡Uf! Martina siempre está poniendo verde a Lucía y Lucía lo sabe. 
-¡Qué dices! Con lo amable que parece.

To speak ill of another person.

-Martina and Lucía don't have a very good relationship, do they?
+Ugh! Martina is always running down Lucia and Lucia knows it. 
-What are you talking about? She seems so nice.

Estar verde en algo.

-¿Quién va a hacer el nuevo proyecto?¿Manuel?
+No, Manuel no puede. Está muy verde.
-Es verdad. Necesitamos a alguien con más experiencia.

To have no experience in something.

-Who is going to do the new project? Manuel?
+No, Manuel can't. He is very green.
-That's true. We need someone with more experience.

Quedarse en blanco.

-Mañana tengo un examen oral y estoy muy nervioso. La última vez me quedé en blanco
+No te preocupes. Has estudiado mucho y te vas a acordar de todo. 
-Eso espero.

One's mind goes blank.

-I have an oral exam tomorrow and I'm very nervous. Last time my mind went blank
+Don't worry. You've studied hard and you'll remember everything. 
-I hope so.

Dar en el blanco. 

-Por 5.000 euros: ¿Cuál es la capital de Tazmania?
+Hobart. 
-¡Perfecto! Has dado en el blanco

To hit the bull's eye

-For 5,000 euros: What is the capital of Tazmania?
+Hobart. 
-Perfect! You've hit the bull's eye

Dar carta blanca.

-¿Cómo tenemos que hacer el diseño?
+Como quieran, el director nos ha dado carta blanca. Tenemos libertad total.

To give carte blanche. 

-How do we have to do the design?
+As you wish, the director has given us carte blanche. We have total freedom.

Estar sin blanca. / Estar en números rojos

-Oye, Dani. ¿Salimos el viernes a cenar?
+Lo siento. No puedo. Estoy sin blanca
-¿Estás en números rojos? No pasa nada, yo te invito.

To be broke./ To not have money.

-Hey, Dani. Shall we go out for dinner on Friday?
+I'm sorry. I can't make it. I'm broke
-You're in the red? It's okay, it's on me.

Ir de punta en blanco.

-Mi jefa siempre va de punta en blanco
+Es verdad. Es una mujer muy elegante.

To be well dressed./ To dress to the nines.

-My boss always is dressed up to the nines
+It's true. She is a very elegant woman.

Pasar la noche en blanco. 

-¿Estás bien? Tienes mala cara.
-Ya. Es que estoy muy estresada y he pasado la noche en blanco

Not sleep a wink.

-Are you all right? You look bad.
-Yeah. It's just that I'm so stressed out and I haven’t slept a wink.

Ponerse rojo como un tomate.

-El pobre Luis es muy tímido. Cada vez que habla en público se pone rojo como un tomate

To turn red as a tomato.

-Poor Luis is very shy. Every time he speaks in public he turns red as a tomato.

Ver las cosas de color de rosa. / Ver todo negro

-Anabel es demasiado optimista. 
+No, es una chica muy positiva. 
-Una cosa es ser positiva y otra ver siempre las cosas de color de rosa.

Always look on the bright side of life.

-Anabel is too optimistic. 
+No, she is a very positive girl. 
-It's one thing to be positive and another to always look on the bright side of life.

Prensa rosa/amarilla. 

-No me gusta ese periódico. La prensa amarilla solo busca provocar al lector. No tienen valores.
+Claro, pero la prensa rosa que lees todos los días defiende unos valores increíbles, ¿no?
-Bueno. Es mejor leer sobre la vida privada de los famosos que sobre los detalles de un crimen horrible. 

Yellow press./ Tabloids.

-I don't like that newspaper. The yellow press only seeks to provoke the reader. They have no values.
+Of course, but the tabloids you read every day defend incredible values, don't they?
-Well. It's better to read about the private lives of celebrities than about the details of a horrible crime.

Ser un marrón. / Comerse un marrón. 

-Matías ha tenido un accidente con el coche del jefe.
+¡Uf! ¡Es un marrón enorme! ¿Y dónde está Matías?
-Está en el hospital. Está bien, pero yo tengo que hablar con el jefe.
+¿Y por qué tienes que comerte tú ese marrón?

It's a big mess. / To take the blame for it.

-Matías has had an accident with the boss's car.
+Ugh! It's a big mess! And where's Matias?
-He's in the hospital. He's fine, but I have to talk to the boss.
+And why do you have to take the blame for that?

Ser de sangre azul. / Ser un príncipe azul.

-La reina de este país se casó con un hombre que no es de sangre azul. Era profesor de matemáticas.
+Bueno. Seguro que es su príncipe azul
-Imagino que por esa razón están casados.

To be of blue (noble) blood./ Be the Prince Charming

-The queen of this country married a man who is not of blue blood. He was a professor of mathematics.
+Well. I'm sure he's her prince charming
-I guess that's why they're married. 

Ponerse morado.

-¡Qué bueno está todo! La comida de esta fiesta es increíble. 
+Sí, ya lo veo. Te estás poniendo morado de dulces.

To stuff one's face with smth...

-How good everything is! The food at this party is amazing. 
+Yes, I can see that. You're stuffing your face with sweets.

PRACTICE!
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