Plurals in Spanish – El plural de los sustantivos en español

In Spanish there are singular nouns and plural nouns, like in other languages. This post is about plurals in Spanish and how to form them, seeing the general rule and also the different cases where there are changes in the spelling of plural nouns.

➡ The singular refers to one person, animal or object → hombre, silla, perro, casa, coche…

➡ The plural refers to more than one person, animal or object → hombres, sillas, perros, casas, coches…

But while English language has a single form in the definite and indefinite articles for both singular and plural (the, a, an), in Spanish we must change the articles to their plural forms:

Definite article:
la silla → las sillas
el coche → los coches

Indefinite article:
una casa → unas casas
un teléfono → unos teléfonos

How to form the plurals in Spanish

Generally, to form the plural of nouns in Spanish, we add -s or -es to word endings. We add -s if the ending of a word is a vowel and -es if the word ending is a consonant. See the following examples:

la casa → las casas
el oso → los osos

la ciudad → las ciudades
el ascensor → los ascensores


However, sometimes there are changes in the spelling of plural nouns in Spanish. We are going to learn the rules about how to form the plurals in Spanish depending on the ending or the noun: vowel or consonant.

Nouns ending in vowel

The writing of plurals in Spanish changes in the following cases:

➡ Nouns ending in unstressed vowel (vocal átona) form its plural adding -s
casa → casas
perro → perros
bolso → bolsos

➡ Nouns ending in the stressed vowels (vocales tónicas) -a, -e, -o form their plural adding -s
café → cafés 
sofá → sofás
chalé → chalés
The names of musical notes: fa → fas, re → res, do → dos…

🔴 Exceptions:
no → noes (when it acts as a noun)
yo → yoes 
Plurals of vowels a, e, o:    a → aes, e → es/ees, o → oes

➡ Nouns ending in the stressed vowels -í, -ú form their plural adding -es or -s
If they are nouns of nationalities, the ending -es is preferred, specially if it is written.
iraní → iraníes (nationality)

In most nouns ending in -í, -ú, specially colloquial nouns, you can use the -s or -es ending since both are correct, but in spoken Spanish the -e- is usually omitted, so the -s ending is more common.
esquí → esquís, esquíes
tabú → tabús, tabúes

🔴 The nouns menú and champú always form their plural with -s ending. The -es ending is not valid for these cases.
menú → menús
champú → champús

Nouns ending in consonant

➡ Nouns that end in consonants –d, -j, -l, -n, -r, -s, -z, -ch form the plural with -es

ciudad → ciudades
árbol → árboles
canción → canciones
quehacer → quehaceres
marqués → marqueses
altavoz → altavoces
reloj → relojes
sándwich → sándwiches


➡ Nouns that end in consonants -c, -g, -t form the plural adding a final -s

el cómic → los cómics
el airbag → los airbags
el mamut → los mamuts

➡ There are few words in Spanish that end in -b. The most common are club and web. The plural of club can be made ending with -s or -es: los clubs or los clubes
However, the plural of web is made with -s: las webs. But if say las páginas web or los sitios web we do not add the final -s in web, since it has already been added to the noun página / sitio.

➡ Note that nouns ending in -z change to a -ces ending in plural. 👉 el lápiz → los lápices
While in singular we say el lápiz (the pencil), ending in Z, in plural we say los lápices (the pencils). We have changed the Z to a C. The sound of both letters is the same, but the spelling changes.

➡ Nouns ending in -s and -x have an invariable plural if they are palabras llanas or palabras esdrújulas.
la crisis → las crisis

This rule does not apply to sustantivos agudos ending in -x:
el fax → los faxes

➡ The days of the week in Spanish ending in -s do not change in plural. 
el lunes → los lunes
el martes → los martes
el miércoles → los miércoles
el jueves → los jueves
el viernes → los viernes

➡ Nouns ending in -y form the plural with -es.
el buey → los bueyes

🔴 Exception to this: nouns that are of foreign origin but have been adapted to Spanish. These make the plural with -s.
el espray → los espráis
This is a noun with foreign origin (spray), that has been adapted to Spanish, so we only add a final -s, not -es.

➡ Nouns ending in a group of consonants make the plural with -s. 
el iceberg → los icebergs

🔴 There are a few exceptions to this. The most common is test, since it remains invariable: el test, los test.


More about Spanish plural nouns

There are some more aspects to consider in relation to the plural of nouns in Spanish. 

  • Some nouns only have a plural form. These are called pluralia tantum. An example of this is the noun víveres (which means supplies or provisions).


  • Some nouns only have a singular form. These are called singularia tantum. An example of this is the word sed (which means thirst).


  • Nouns referred to objects made of two symmetrical parts may be in singular or plural, this does not matter because both refer to a single object:
    la tijera = las tijeras (both refer to a single object).
    la tenaza = las tenazas (both refer to a single object).


  • Some nouns always use a plural form to refer to a single object; e.g. las gafas 

Online exercises about plurals in Spanish

Gender in Spanish – El género del sustantivo en español

This time we are going to cover the gender in Spanish. There are two genders (géneros) in Spanish language: masculine and feminine (masculino y femenino). There is no neutral gender in Spanish, so in this language nouns are either masculine or feminine.

How to find out gender in Spanish nouns

There are some general rules to determine the gender of Spanish nouns, but, as always, there are exceptions that make this topic a bit more challenging. But, in general, gender in Spanish may be a simple topic if you follow the general rules and keep in mind some of the most common exceptions.

Masculine nouns in Spanish (Sustantivos masculinos en español)

  • In general, nouns ending in -o are masculine: el libro, el cielo, el bolígrafo.
    There are some exceptions to this rule, these are the most common: la mano, la radio, la moto, la foto.
    Note that the two last examples, moto and foto, are abbreviated nouns of motocicleta and fotografía. As you see, their complete nouns end in -a; they are feminine. The abbreviated nouns are colloquial and more used than the complete ones, specially la moto, which is much more common than la motocicleta.
  • Nouns ending in -aje are masculine: el viaje, el maquillaje, el peaje.
  • Nouns ending in -ambre are generally masculine: el enjambre, el hambre, el calambre.
  • Some nouns ending in -or are masculine: el amor, el motor, el profesor.
  • Nouns ending in -án are masculine in general: el refrán, el albarán, el cancán.
  • Many nouns ending in -ma are also masculine: el problema, el tema, el pijama.
  • The compound names in Spanish that are formed by a verb and a noun are masculine: el sacacorchos (sacar + corchos), el paraguas (parar + aguas).
  • The days of the week in Spanish are also masculine: el lunes, el martes, el miércoles, el jueves, el viernes, el sábado, el domingo.
  • The colours in Spanish are masculine: el azul, el rojo, el verde, el amarillo…
  • The cardinal points in Spanish are masculine too: el norte, el sur, el este, el oeste.

Feminine nouns in Spanish (Sustantivos femeninos en español)

  • In general, nouns ending in -a are feminine: la casa, la vida, la taza.
  • Nouns ending in -dad are feminine: la ciudad, la soledad, la verdad.
  • Nouns ending in -tad are feminine: la libertad, la amistad, la pubertad.
  • Nouns ending in -tud are feminine: la virtud, la senectud.
  • Nouns ending in -ción and -sión are usually feminine: la estación, la revolución, la misión, la obsesión.
  • The nouns ending in -itis are also feminine, and these are usually names of illnesses: la gingivitis, la apendicitis.
  • Nouns ending in -umbre are feminine: la muchedumbre, la incertidumbre.
  • Nouns ending in -ie are also feminine: la superficie, la calvicie.

Invariant nouns or common gender in Spanish (Sustantivos comunes en el género)

Some nouns in Spanish are invariable, that is, they are the same noun in both the masculine and feminine gender. These are known as invariant or invariable nouns, or common nouns regarding gender. This is the case of:

  • Nouns ending in -ista: el / la artista.
  • Nouns ending in -e like el / la paciente.
    There are exceptions to this rule, since there are nouns ending in -e that do have a specific ending in -a for the feminine gender, like these:
    el jefe – la jefa (but it is also valid la jefe) / el presidente – la presidenta (but is is also valid la presidente).
    Although both are valid, if a word ending in -e has a specific ending in -a for the feminine gender, this is generally more used than the noun ending in -e with the feminine article.
  • Nouns ending in -a that are referred to people (this usually happens with some job names): el / la pediatra, el / la aristócrata, el / la logopeda.
  • There are nouns that are always common in terms of gender, like the following:
    • el / la piloto
    • el / la testigo
    • el / la conserje

Traditionally, the names of jobs only had a common gender (mostly with an -o ending), el / la arquitecto, for instance.
But, as time went by, these names stopped being common in terms of gender and split into masculine (-o ending) and feminine (-a ending): el arquitecto / la arquitecta.

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