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How to form the plural of Spanish nouns?

Colorful historical buildings.
The plural for many Spanish nouns is formed by adding -s or -es to the singular form, similar to English. Let’s take a look at the following examples: 
  • casa housecasas houses
  • dolor paindolores pains
If you have some experience in language learning, though, you might know there are some exceptions, but don’t worry. We’ll also cover these in this post, like the case of nouns that have two plural forms or those that don’t change form. Keep reading, and you will become an expert in Spanish plural nouns!

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 endingSingular nounPlural noun
a, ála casa the house
la mamá the mother
las casas the houses
las mamás the mothers
e, éla calle the street
el café the café
las calles the streets
los cafés the cafés
iel taxi the taxilos taxis the taxis
o, óel libro the book
el plató the set
los libros the books
los platós the sets
uel espíritu the spiritlos espíritus the spirits
Exception!

An exception to this rule is nouns ending in and , 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:
 SingularPlural
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 -yla ley the law
el buey the ox
las leyes the laws
los bueyes the oxen
Exception!
Words borrowed from another language and ending in -y have a different way to form their plural. In these cases, drop the -y and add -is. Look: 

el jersey los jerséis
el penaltylos penaltis

Let’s see a few more cases of nouns that form their plural by adding -es
  • 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:
SingularPlural
el avión the planelos aviones the planes
el autobús the buslos 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:
SingularPlural
el examen the examlos 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:
SingularPlural
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:
SingularPlural
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:

  1. 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
  2. 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 or –ú that we mentioned previously? Well, for these you can either add -s or -es:

SingularMasculine
Ending in -íel ají
the pepper
los ajís / los ajíes
the peppers
Ending in -úel bambú
the bamboo
los bambús / los bambúes
the bamboos

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:

SingularMasculine
el paraguas the umbrellalos paraguas the umbrellas
el lunes Mondaylos lunes Mondays
la crisis the crisislas crisis the crises
el pasamanos the handraillos pasamanos the handrails
el virus the viruslos 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:

How to form the plural of Spanish nouns - imgHow to form the plural of Spanish nouns imgHow to form the plural of Spanish nouns img
Singularla tijera the scissorsla nariz the nosela tenaza the tongs
Plurallas tijeras the scissorslas narices the noseslas tenazas the tongs

However, in other cases, only the plural form is used to denote an object that has two symmetrical parts:

SingularPlural
gafalas gafas the glasses
prismáticolos prismáticos the binoculars

Compound nouns

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:

SingularPlural
el altoparlante the loudspeakerlos 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:

SingularPlural
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.

SingularPlural
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

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:

SingularPlural
¿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)
Remember that when using a plural noun in Spanish it needs to agree with the other words that go with it. For instance, articles, adjectives, and nouns in Spanish have to agree in form. This will make your Spanish sound more natural.

Summary

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.
If you’re looking for an exercise to practice, we have created this simple activity where you can use what you’ve just learned. There is also a second exercise on singular and plural nouns in Spanish. Both exercises include an answer key for you to check your work. Happy learning!
Are you interested in learning more about Spanish Grammar? Check out our Spanish Grammar Homepage.
Unpacking the grammar

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.

Meet The Author:
Natalia Molina
Natalia Molina Ceballos
Spanish Coach
Natalia is a Spanish coach at Mango Languages.

To embark on your next language adventure, join the Mango fam!

Extra Resources:

Feminine nouns Table

Activities:

Plural nouns activity 1
Plural nouns activity 2

Activities:

Plural nouns activity 1
Plural nouns activity 2

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