When learning Spanish, one of the very first things you’ll need to know is how to form plural nouns

After all, you can’t go around always talking about everything in the singular – that would be a bit weird! So what does the plural look like in Spanish and how do we form it?
Firstly, we need to look at the plural of el artículo definido (the definite article) which means “the” and el artículo indefinido (the indefinite article) which means “a/an”. In Spanish, there are both masculine and feminine nouns and so we have a few forms of these articles to have to learn.

El artículo definido (the) El artículo indefinido (a/an)
Singular Plural Singular Plural
Masculine el los Masculine un/uno unos
Feminine la las Masculine una unas

It’s really not that complicated, is it? So, once you’ve decided what type of sustantivo (noun) you’re dealing with, we can get on with making it into a plural form. There are a few spelling rules which you can follow that make this whole process much simpler. Let’s take a look.

1. If a noun ends in a vowel (a,e,i,o,u) we simply add “s”

Por ejemplo, (For example,)

el niño > los niños
the boy > the boys

la fecha > las fechas
the date > the dates

un coche > unos coches
a car > some cars

una mariposa > unas mariposas
a butterfly > some butterflies

2. If a noun ends in most consonants, add “es”

Por ejemplo, (For example,)

el professor > los profesores
the teacher > the teachers

la universidad > las universidades
the university > the universities

un árbol > unos árboles
a tree > some tres

una mujer > unas mujeres
a woman > some women

3. For nouns that end in “z” we add “es” and change the “z” to “c”

Por ejemplo, (For example,)

la actriz > las actrices
the actress > the actresses

un lápiz > unos lápices
a pencil > some pencils

4. If a noun ends in “ión”, we remove the accent (´) from the “o” and add “es”

Sometimes, as you’ve probably noticed, words have accent marks above certain letters. There are some rules to help you with this, but for now just remember that words ending in “ión” drop the accent when we make the plural.

Por ejemplo, (For example,)

la televisión > las televisiones
the televisión > the televisions

el avión > los aviones
the plane > the planes

5. Some words taken from other languages do not follow all the rules above and simply add “s”

Spanish, like any other language, has a lot of loanwords or words which have been borrowed from other languages. These often have different spellings than standard Spanish words would allow, and so the standard plural rules don’t always work.

Por ejemplo, (For example,)

el parking > los parkings
the car park > the car parks

un camping > unos campings
a campsite > some campsites

un bistec > unos bistecs
a beef steak > some beef steaks

6. Some words don’t change between singular and plural

We’re not going to go over all the reasons for this here, but just be aware that some words do not change between singular and plural. Here are some examples.

el martes > los martes
Tuesday > Tuesdays

(in fact, all days of the week end in “s” in singular and plural)

una crisis > unas crisis
a crisis > some crises

7. Mixed masculine and feminine groups become masculine in the plural form

This is nothing about gender or favouring males or females, rather it’s a linguistic feature of the language. If a group contains a male and a female, the plural form is always masculine.

Por ejemplo, (For example,)

un gato + una gata > unos gatos
a male cat + a female cat > some cats

11 niños + 13 niñas > 25 niños
11 boys + 13 girls > 25 children

So, when learning Spanish, always try to learn the article and plural of words when you see them. It’ll save you a lot of time later when trying to use your vocabulary quickly when speaking Spanish with other people. You’re bound to make mistakes, but that’s the beauty of learning a language and people will always try and help you to find the right form of the word you need.

Here at Hablamos, we can help you to get you head around these rules and be better able to use plurals accurately in your spoken and written Spanish. Sign up for one of our courses today!