- casa house – casas houses
- dolor pain – dolores pains
For a review of grammar terms used in the post, make sure to check out the Unpacking the grammar section at the end.
Table of Contents
Nouns that form their plural by adding ‘-s’
Some nouns form their plural simply by adding -s. Let’s start from the beginning and explore the various cases:
- If a Spanish noun ends in a vowel, form the plural by adding -s:
|Singular noun ending||Singular noun||Plural noun|
|a, á||la casa the house|
la mamá the mother
|las casas the houses|
las mamás the mothers
|e, é||la calle the street|
el café the café
|las calles the streets|
los cafés the cafés
|i||el taxi the taxi||los taxis the taxis|
|o, ó||el libro the book|
el plató the set
|los libros the books |
los platós the sets
|u||el espíritu the spirit||los espíritus the spirits|
An exception to this rule is nouns ending in -í and -ú, both with an accent mark. Make sure you continue reading to find out about these exceptional endings.
Nouns that form their plural by adding ‘-es’
Some nouns form their plural by adding -es. We’ve just seen the cases of the plural of nouns that end in a vowel, but what happens if a noun ends in a consonant? For most of these cases, the plural is formed by adding -es. Let’s take a look at some examples:
- Nouns ending in -n, -r, -s, -l, -j, -d, or -y:
|Ending in consonant|
-n, -r, -s, -l, -j, -d
|el corazón the heart|
el taller the workshop
el bus the bus
el árbol the tree
el reloj the watch
la pared the wall
|los corazones the hearts|
los talleres the workshops
los buses the buses
los árboles the trees
los relojes the watches
las paredes the walls
|Ending in -y||la ley the law|
el buey the ox
|las leyes the laws|
los bueyes the oxen
el jersey → los jerséis
el penalty → los penaltis
- Some singular nouns in Spanish end in an accented vowel plus -n or -s. To make the plural, add -es and lose the accent mark:
|el avión the plane||los aviones the planes|
|el autobús the bus||los autobuses the buses|
- Some other singular nouns of two or more syllables end in -en. For these, an accent mark needs to be added in the plural form:
|el examen the exam||los exámenes the exams|
|el joven the young person||los jóvenes the youth|
- For Spanish nouns ending in consonants other than -n, -r, -s, -l, -j, -d, and -y, only add -s to make the plural. Look:
|el lápiz the pencil |
la actriz the actress
|los lápices the pencils |
las actrices the actresses
- There are a few nouns that end in -z. These require a small change in spelling to make the plural form: drop the -z, add -c and then -es:
|el mamut the mammoth |
el tic the tic
|los mamuts the mammoths |
los tics the tics
So far we have learned the main rules to making plural nouns in Spanish. Let’s recap quickly:
- add -s for:
- singular nouns that end in a vowel (except í and ú)
- singular nouns that end in consonants other than -n, -r, -s, -l, -j, -d, -y
- add -es for:
- singular nouns that end in consonants -n, -r, -s, -l, -j, -d, -y, accented vowel + -n or -s, and -en
- singular nouns that end in -z.
If you’ve read this far, and want to continue, prepare to learn all about special cases next!
What are the special cases of Spanish plural nouns?
There are special cases of Spanish plural nouns, such as nouns that have two plural forms, nouns that don’t change in the plural form, nouns that denote objects which have two symmetrical parts, compound nouns, and several additional cases. Let’s take a closer look.
Nouns that have two plural forms in Spanish
In some cases, nouns will have two plural forms. This first exception is easy. Do you remember the nouns ending in stressed -í or –ú that we mentioned previously? Well, for these you can either add -s or -es:
|Ending in -í||el ají |
|los ajís / los ajíes |
|Ending in -ú||el bambú |
|los bambús / los bambúes |
Nouns that don’t change in the plural form
There are also nouns that don’t change in the plural form. Singular Spanish nouns with two or more syllables ending in vowel + -s (no accent mark) will not change in the plural. In these cases, you only need to change the article:
|el paraguas the umbrella||los paraguas the umbrellas|
|el lunes Monday||los lunes Mondays|
|la crisis the crisis||las crisis the crises|
|el pasamanos the handrail||los pasamanos the handrails|
|el virus the virus||los virus the viruses|
Nouns that denote objects which have two symmetrical parts
Some nouns in Spanish denote objects that are made out of two symmetrical parts. This type of noun can be used in either the singular or the plural form. Look at the following pictures and examples:
|Singular||la tijera the scissors||la nariz the nose||la tenaza the tongs|
|Plural||las tijeras the scissors||las narices the noses||las tenazas the tongs|
However, in other cases, only the plural form is used to denote an object that has two symmetrical parts:
|gafa||las gafas the glasses|
|prismático||los prismáticos the binoculars|
In Spanish, compound nouns can be written in one or two words. For those made of one word only, always make the second half of the word plural. Look at an example here:
|el altoparlante the loudspeaker||los altoparlantes the loudspeakers|
If you have a compound noun made out of two separate words, mark the plural only in the first word. Check out these examples:
|el año luz the light year|
el niño prodigio the child prodigy
|los años luz the light years |
los niños prodigio the child prodigies
Final notes about plural nouns in Spanish
Before you leave, let’s take a quick look at three extra cases with Spanish nouns and their plural forms.
Nouns starting with stressed ‘a-’ or ‘ha-’
There’s a group of nouns in Spanish starting with a stressed a- or ha-. These are feminine, but they take the masculine article in the singular form due to phonetic reasons (el agua, water; el hada, fairy). In the plural form, these nouns take the feminine article.
|el agua the water |
el hada the fairy
|las aguas the waters |
las hadas the fairies
Do you want to learn more words that follow this pattern? Check out this list of Spanish feminine nouns starting with a stressed a- or ha-.
Need a refresher on how to tell the gender of Spanish nouns? Look no further, we have a post for that!
Uncountable nouns in Spanish are typically used in singular when you refer to them in general or talk about an indeterminate quantity. When used in plural, they refer to different types or units of the same matter. Look at the following example:
|¿Tú tomas leche con frecuencia? |
Do you drink milk frequently?
|Este supermercado vende leches vegetales. |
This supermarket sells vegetable milk.
In the example on the left, the noun leche refers to milk in general. In the example on the right, the word leches refers to different types of vegetable milk (soy, almond, etc.).
Plural masculine as default
In some cases, the plural masculine will be used as default. When referring to a plural noun that includes masculine and feminine members (for the case of living beings), Spanish takes the masculine plural:
- padre + madre = padres (parents)
- hijos + hijas = hijos (children)
- rey + reina = reyes (kings)
- maestros + maestras = maestros (teachers)
To sum up, making plural nouns in Spanish is pretty straightforward. Based on the noun ending in its singular form, all you need to do is add the right ending. Let’s recap the main points:
- If a noun ends in a vowel, simply add -s to form the plural.
- If a noun ends in a consonant, add -es for most cases.
- If a noun ends in -z, drop the -z and add -ces.
A mass noun, also called an uncountable noun, is a noun that cannot be counted and usually lacks a plural form. These nouns are usually measured with countable units.
John bought 8 pieces of furniture.
Mary ate 2 sticks of celery.
Fred is listening to music.