Spanish uses the suffixes –ante (from –ar verbs) and –ente or –iente (from –er and –ir verbs) to form a number of adjectives and some nouns. This is unlike English, in which present participles may be used as adjectives (e.g., “running water,” “sparkling wine”).*
|Es un libro muy edificante sobre Antonio Machado.**||It’s a very edifying book about Antonio Machado.|
|A la casa le falta agua corriente todavía.||The house still lacks running water.|
Some forms in –ante, -ente and -iente may serve both as nouns and adjectives:
|Chema es el amante de Victoria.||Chema is Victoria’s lover.|
|Volvió a su amante esposa.||He returned to his loving wife.|
|Los habitantes de Belice no son hispanohablantes.||The inhabitants of Belize are not Spanish speakers. (noun)
The inhabitants of Belize are not Spanish-speaking. (adjective)
As you have seen, many common and easily recognizable nouns have these same endings: el/la estudiante, el habitante, el residente, el presidente, etc.
*These are two exceptions to this rule: hirviendo (“boiling”) and ardiendo (“burning”). When used as adjectives, they appear only after the noun and are invariable in form. If you recognize the infinitive from which they come, there should be no comprehension problem.
**Spanish poet, 1875-1939.
el/la dramaturgo/a- playwright
el/la natural- native (false friend)
corriente- running; standard, regular, commonplace; current, present