Most Spanish nouns, as well as many other words in the language, have a singular and a plural form, apart from having a masculine or feminine gender and fall into a given category. In this grammar lesson, we will cover the basic rules for the plural of Spanish nouns and will apply these rules in real sentences so that you understand how to make these words plural and use them in real contexts. There is a nice quiz at the end of the lesson for you to check your comprehension of the grammar structures. ¿Listo? Comencemos…
What is the plural of Spanish nouns? – El plural y el singular
The plural of Spanish nouns or “El plural” refers to a basic transformation of words from singular to plural form in order to talk about several objects, instead of a single one. In grammar terms, this property is called NÚMERO GRAMATICAL or grammatical number. Consequently, words in the language usually have a singular (cuaderno) or plural form (cuadernos), which is easy to determine following some simple rules that we will discuss shortly.
The singular of nouns is called EL SINGULAR, whereas the plural of Spanish nouns is called EL PLURAL. Here is a picture with three examples of nouns changing from singular to plural form. This image has no English, but do not worry if you can not understand all the details as they be explained in the rest of the lesson.
The four basic rules for making Spanish nouns plural
Rule No.1: Adding -S at the end of the word
The first rule for the plural of Spanish nouns says that we add the letter -S at the end of a word when it ends with a vowel without TILDE such as the words “CASA” and “MESA”. Notice that both nouns do not need TILDE and finish in the vowel A. For words ending in “É” like BEBÉ, we still add the letter -S as this is an exception to the rule. Here are some examples of sentences showing how to make Spanish nouns plural by adding -S. Click on Play to listen to the examples.
Casa – Hay tres casas pequeñas.
There are three small houses
Mesa – ¿Podrías limpiar las mesas?
Could you clean the tables?
Bebé – Esos son mis bebés
They are my babies
Cama – Ellos venden camas
They sell beds
Rule No.2: Adding -ES at the end of the word
The second rule to make Spanish nouns plural says that we add the letters -ES when the word ends in a consonant. This rule applies to nouns like “TELEVISOR” or “PAPEL” and also to those ending in a vowel with TILDE (á, í, ó, ú) other than É like “Bebé”. Here are some examples of sentences using plural nouns in Spanish with a -ES ending:
Televisor – Compramos dos televisores
We bought two televisions
Canción – El álbum tiene 12 canciones
The album has 12 songs
Rubí – Los rubíes son caros
Rubies are expensive
Ratón – Hay ratones en la casa
They are mice in the house
Rule No.3: Replacing -Z for -CES
As an orthographic rule, when a word ends in the consonant –Z, we replace the -Z for -CES. Some common Spanish nouns ending in -Z are: actriz (actress), audaz (bold), avestruz (ostrich), feliz (happy), pez (fish) and voz (voice). Here are some examples of sentences with plural nouns in Spanish ending in -Z. Click on PLAY to listen to the examples.
Luz – Hay varias luces encendidas
There are several lights on
Voz – Sus voces son hermosas
Their voices are beautiful
Cruz – Hay varias cruces en la iglesia
There are several crosses in the church
Rule No.4: Exceptions – Words with no plural in Spanish
There are some words that do not have a plural form because it would sound odd, including the ones that end in the consonants –S and -X. Some words that do not have a plural form are: Tórax, Crisis, Paraguas (umbrella), Saltamontes (crickets) and Nada (nothing). Some of these words may have a singular form like “Saltamonte”, but we should use them in plural form most of the time.
Tórax – El tórax es una parte del cuerpo
The thorax is a part of the body
Nada – No hay nada aquí
There is nothing here
Lunes – Los lunes son días ocupados
Monday is a busy day.