Nouns, LOS SUSTANTIVOS, play a very important role in everyday conversations. This lesson will cover the most important types of Spanish nouns in the language, and show you how to make sentences with a list of nouns in Spanish belonging to each category. In addition, we will talk about their functions, and will see the new vocabulary in use through real sentences. Let’s start…
Grammar introduction: What are nouns in Spanish?
Nouns are words that are used to refer to people, places, things or actions. They are called SUSTANTIVOS or NOMBRES in Spanish. “Los sustantivos” fall into specific categories and have a gender (masculine or feminine) as well as number (plural or singular) associated with them, which we will study in independent lessons. Some examples of nouns in Spanish are names like “Carlos” and “Marcos”, or things like “Teléfono” and “Libro”. Here is a short video explaining the basics about the different types of nouns you should know about.
The different types of Spanish nouns – Los tipos de sustantivos
There are two main types of Spanish nouns: concrete and abstract nouns.
First, Spanish concrete nouns or “los sustantivos concretos” are the ones we can feel with our senses such as AGUA (water), PADRE (father), MADRE (mother) and so on. Concrete nouns can be further divided into two sub-types: common nouns (los sustantivos comunes: general objects like bicicleta or computadora) and proper nouns (los sustantivos propios: individual or unique things such as names).
Second, Spanish abstract nouns or “los sustantivos abstractos” refer to objects that do not have a material existence such feelings and emotions: ODIO(hatred), AMOR(love) and TRISTEZA (sadness). Later, we will continue learning about each category and will provide more examples too. For now, please check the picture below and a list of nouns in Spanish with their respective types.
Spanish Concrete Nouns – Los sustantivos concretos
As we mentioned before, “los sustantivos concretos” or Spanish concrete nouns are the ones we can touch, see, smell, hear and so on. Here are some examples of sentences with concrete nouns:
Libro – Este libro es interesante
Translation: Book – This book is interesting
Guitarra – Yo puedo tocar guitarra
Translation: Guitar – I can play guitar
Casa – La casa es muy grande
Translation: House – The house is very big
Spanish Abstract Nouns – Los sustantivos abstractos
Los sustantivos abstractos or Spanish abstract nouns are those that do not have a material existence like emotions or feelings, that is things we cannot see or touch like ideas. Here are some sentences using common abstract nouns:
Amor – El amor es un sentimiento
Translation: Love – Love is a feeling
Felicidad – El bebé le trajo felicidad
Translation: Happiness- The baby brought her happiness
Éxito – El proyecto es un éxito
Translation: Success – The project is a success
Spanish Common Nouns – Los sustantivos comunes
Los sustantivos comunes or Spanish common nouns are the ones that refer to people or things in a general way, for example: Los niños (children). For instance, if we say LOS NIÑOS, we are not specifying which child we are referring to, which could be any child (maybe Alan, Pedro, Maria…) within the group. Therefore, common nouns in Spanish tell us that all of them belong to a group with shared features. Here are some sentences using common nouns:
Niños – Los niños son inteligentes
Translation: Children – Children are smart
Carro – Compré un carro (do not specify which kind of car)
Translation: Car – I bought a car
Spanish Proper Nouns – Los sustantivos propios
Los sustantivos propios or Spanish proper nouns are the ones we use to name things or people such as Ana, Carlos, México, Brasil, Toyota and so on. What makes them easy to differentiate from common nouns is the fact that proper nouns will always begin with a capital letter, as you can see in the sentences in the list below.
Estados Unidos – Estados Unidos es un país de Norteamérica
Translation: United States – United States is a country in North America
Mercedes – Mercedes es estudiante
Translation: Mercedes – Mercedes is a student
Cien años de soledad – Cien años de soledad es un libro famoso
Translation: One hundred years of solitude – One hundred years of solitude is a famous book
Can you find the Spanish nouns in these sentences?
More types of nouns in Spanish: list and definition
The four categories of nouns in Spanish that we have studied so far are the ones we encourage you to remember. However, there are still more specific types of nouns in the language that you might want to study, including simple and compound nouns. Here are the remaining types and a list of Spanish nouns belonging to each category.
|Types of Spanish nouns||Spanish nouns list|
|Los sustantivos individuales or individual nouns are used to designate unique objects that may be part of a category.||Llave, Lavadora, Televisor, Béisbol, Fútbol|
|Los sustantivos colectivos or collective nouns are used for categories of similar objects.||Deportes, Mamíferos, Peces|
|Los sustantivos contables or countable nouns are the ones we can count.||Lápices, libros, casas, adultos|
|Los sustantivos no contables or uncountable nouns are those we cannot count.||Agua, Odio, Amor, Belleza, Aire|
|Los sustantivos simples or simple nouns are just nouns made out of one word.||Vestido, Zapato, Blusa, Carro|
|Los sustantivos compuestos or compound nouns are the ones we form joining two words.||Electrodomésticos (electro + domésticos), Abrelatas (abre + lata) and Paramédico (Para + Médico)|
The role of Spanish nouns in sentences
Spanish nouns have several uses and depending on their position in the sentence, they may have different roles. This feature is called LAS FUNCIONES DEL SUSTANTIVO in the language. That being said, nouns may have the following roles:
- The subject of sentence, for example: “Ana vive en Estados Unidos” (Ana lives in the US) where ANA is a proper noun (un sustantivo propio).
- The direct object of a verb like in the sentence “Carlos monta bicicleta”. What’s the object that Carlos is riding? UNA BICICLETA. This is a common noun working as the direct object of the verb MONTAR (to ride).
- The indirect object of a verb like in the sentence “Estoy ayudándole a mamá” where MAMÁ is a concrete, common noun. To know that it is working as an indirect object we ask ourselves the question, Whom am I helping? (¿A quién estoy ayudandole? -> A mamá).
- The object of a preposition like in El libro habla del amor where AMOR is an abstract noun and DEL is a preposition. Libro is a noun too but in this sentence it works as the subject. ¿De qué habla el libro? -> Del amor
Related Spanish Worksheets:
- Classifying Nouns in Spanish – PDF Worksheet
- Singular and Plural Nouns in Spanish – PDF Worksheet
- Spanish Nouns Gender and Number – PDF Worksheet
- Subject Pronouns in Spanish – PDF Worksheet