How to Master Plurals in Spanish Grammar
Learning to form plurals in Spanish is relatively simple! This is good news for beginning Spanish learners like you.
In this lesson, discover how to make Spanish nouns and their definite articles plural by learning a handful of basic Spanish grammar rules.
The plural in Spanish (also known as the “number”) is similar to the plural in English. In both languages, the ending of a noun indicates whether the noun is singular (exactly one) or plural (more than one).
Are you ready to take the plunge into the world of plurality? Keep reading for a simple guide on mastering plurals in Spanish!
Beginner’s Guide to Plurals in Spanish
In English, we usually pluralize nouns by adding an -s to the end (for instance: “window” becomes “windows” and rose becomes “roses”), although some nouns are irregular and do not follow this pattern (for example: “woman” becomes “women” and “deer” remains “deer”).
Most plurals In Spanish also involve adding an -s or –es to the end of the word, although there are a handful of rules (and exceptions) to keep in mind.
1. Match the Article to the Noun
Plurals in Spanish also take into account the gender of the noun (that is, whether it is masculine with el or feminine with la).
Whenever you form a sentence in Spanish, make sure the article agrees with its noun in both gender and number. So, if the word is singular, the article must also be singular. If the noun is feminine, its article must be feminine, too.
What are Definite Articles?
All four of Definite articles translate into English as the word “the.”
- el – masculine, singular
- los – masculine, plural
- la – feminine, singular
- las – feminine, plural
What are Indefinite Articles?
We use indefinite articles to refer to nouns in broad, general terms. In English, the indefinite articles are “a” and “an.”
- un – masculine, singular
- unos – masculine, plural
- una – feminine, singular
- unas – feminine, plural
2. Add -s to Nouns that End in Vowels
Make singular Spanish nouns that end in vowels plural by adding -s to the end. For example:
el pueblo → los pueblos (towns)
la niña → las niñas (girls)
la manzana → las manzanas (apples)
el brazo → los brazos (arms)
3. Add -es to Nouns that End in Consonants
If a singular noun ends in a vowel plus y or the consonants l, r, n, d, z, j, s, x, or ch, add -es.For example:
el azul → los azules (blues)
el ratón → los ratones (rats)
el color → los colores (colors)
el director → los directores (directors)
Exception: Nouns that End in -ión
Add -es and drop the accent over the o if the noun ends in –ión.
Accent marks in Spanish add stress to the syllable that they accentuate. Occasionally, the accent mark is dropped when a word becomes plural. For example:
el camión → los camiones (trucks)
la elección → las elecciones (elections)
la cuestión → las cuestiones (issues)
Exception: Nouns that End in -z
If a noun ends in -z, change the -z to -c and add -es to make it plural.
el lombriz → los lombrices (earthworms)
la actriz → las actrices (actresses)
la luz → las luces (lights)
4. Only Change the Article to Plural When…
Some plurals in Spanish remain the same as in their singular form. In the following cases, the only change occurs in the article.
Nouns ending in -s or -x with an unstressed last syllable
el / los crises (crisis vs crises)
el / los tesis (thesis vs theses)
el / los lunes (Mondays) *this is the case for all days of the week except sábado and domingo)
When the second word in a singular compound noun is a plural noun
El / los espantapájaros (scarecrow/s)
El / los paraguas (umbrella/s)
El / los lavaplatos (dishwasher/s)
5. Use the masculine plural to refer to mixed-gender groups
For better or worse, Spanish defaults to masculine. If there is even one male in the mix, the word will automatically be in the masculine and plural.
When there is a mixed group, however, the meaning of the word in Spanish is neutralized.
10 gatas + 1 gato = 11 gatos
10 female cats+ 1 male cat = 11 cats
1 chico + 99 chicas = 100 chicos
1 boy + 99 girls = 100 children
1 profesor + 999 profesoras = 1000 profesores
1 male teacher + 999 female teacher = 1000 teachers
6. Words Referred to in Plural Form
Lastly, a few Spanish words indicate objects which consist of two or more (often symmetrical) features, just as in English. Such words are generally referred to by employing their plural form.
Las gafas – glasses
Los pantalones – pants
Las tijeras – scissors
Practice Your Plurals in Spanish
Try the following exercises to put your new knowledge of Spanish plurals to the test.
Write the correct plural form.
1. el libro
2. el lápiz
3. la universidad
4. el mapa
5. la conversación
6. el martes
7. la jaula
8. el cienpies
9. el rey
10. la voz
True or False?
1. If a noun ends in -o, make it plural by adding -es.
2. If a noun ends in -ión, make it plural by simply adding -es.
3. If a noun ends in -a, make it plural by adding -s.
4. If a noun ends in a consonant, make it plural by adding -es.
5. If a noun ends in -z, make it plural by changing the z to c, and adding -es.
Click here to see the answer key.
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Write the correct plural form.
1. los libros
2. los lápices
3. las universidades
4. los mapas
5. las conversaciones
6. los martes
7. las jaulas
8. los cienpies
9. los reyes
10. las voces
True or False?
1. False (add -s)
2. False (drop the accent mark)