Spanish Examples of Nouns: Learn These 12 Types
How many examples of nouns in Spanish can you think of right now? Probably a lot, if you’ve been studying Spanish for a while!
And now, do you know what type of nouns they are? Would you be able to classify them?
Today, I’ll show you twelve types of sustantivos in Spanish and I’ll add a lot of examples of nouns.
Ready? Let’s get started.
What are Nouns in Spanish?
I’m sure by now you know that nouns—called sustantivos in Spanish—name people, places, or actions. If you’d like more of a refresher on this topic, check out The 8 Parts of Speech.
Usually, when you start learning a language as a baby or later on studying a foreign one, nouns are the first words to know.
Later on, you learn that nouns name a big group of words that can be classified separately.
In Spanish, we can talk about twelve different types, and I put them below in contrasting pairs, creating six groups to make all this information easier to follow.
- Concrete Nouns vs. Abstract Nouns
- Common Nouns vs. Proper Nouns
- Individual Nouns vs. Collective Nouns
- Countable Nouns vs. Uncountable Nouns
- Simple Nouns vs. Compound Nouns
- Animate Nouns vs. Inanimate Nouns
Let’s see all these twelve types in detail with many examples of nouns to add to your collection.
1. Concrete Nouns vs. Abstract Nouns
These are two principal types of nouns in Spanish: los sustantivos concretos and los sustantivos abstractos.
Concrete Nouns are the nouns we can touch, see, taste, smell or hear.
For example: el pájaro (bird), el papá (dad), la sopa (soup), el humo (smoke), la canción (song), la ciruela (plum), Juan. You can perceive all of them with at least one of your senses.
Abstract nouns, on the other hand, name things that do not possess material existence and we cannot perceive them with our five senses. In this group, you’ll find ideas, emotions, and feelings: el pavor (dread), la exaltación (exaltation), la tristeza (sadness).
Check this table to see more examples of nouns from this group.
Concrete Nouns vs. Abstract Nouns Chart
|CONCRETE NOUNS||ABSTRACT NOUNS|
|el ático – attic||el cálculo – calculation|
|el barandal – guardrail||la compasión – compassion|
|la bocina – speaker, horn||la desesperación – despair|
|la catedral – cathedral||la falsedad – falsehood|
|la chimenea – fireplace||la fealdad – ugliness|
|la cima – peak||la fraternidad – fraternity|
|el grifo – faucet||el infierno – hell|
|la jarra – pitcher||el olvido – oblivion|
|la luz – light||la perseverancia – perseverance|
|el plátano – banana||la prudencia – prudence|
2. Common Nouns vs. Proper Nouns
Los sustantivos comunes and los sustantivos propios form another group.
Common Nouns refer to people, places, and things in general without mentioning their individual names. For example el niño (child), la ciudad (city), el continente (continent), el carro (car).
If you say los carros, you’re not specifying what cars you have in mind (Mercedes, Porsche, Renault), it could be any car, and it would fit the group los carros.
That said, proper nouns are the nouns that give individual names to people and objects: Paola, Pepe, Perú, Asia, Toyota, etc. You need to remember that proper nouns in Spanish must be written with a capital letter at the beginning.
Take a look at this table to see more examples of nouns from this group.
Common Nouns vs. Proper Nouns Chart
|COMMON NOUNS||PROPER NOUNS|
|la agujeta – shoelace||Buenos Aires|
|la angustia – anguish||Casiopea – Cassiopea|
|el candado – padlock||Guatemala|
|el cohete – rocket||Madrid|
|la estrella – star||El Marte – Mars|
|el granizo – hail||El Nilo – The Nile|
|el martillo – hammer||La Osa Mayor – Ursa Major|
|la muela – back tooth||El País|
|la nube – cloud||Seat Ibiza|
|el templo – temple||El Sol – The Sun|
3. Individual Nouns vs. Collective Nouns
Individual Nouns–los sustantivos individuales– refer to unique objects that can be part of a category, to a single entity: llave (key), fútbol (soccer), atún (tuna), televisor (television). Collective nouns–los sustantivos colectivos–name a group made of multiple entities.
Let’s see more examples of nouns from this group.
Individual Nouns vs. Collective Nouns Chart
|INDIVIDUAL NOUNS||COLLECTIVE NOUNS|
|el aeropuerto – airport||la alameda (conjunto de álamos) – alameda (group of poplars)|
|el cerebro – brain||la arboleda (conjunto de árboles) – arboleda (group of trees)|
|la cuchara – spoon||la cámara (grupo de senadores o diputados) – chamber (group of senators or deputies)|
|la lagartija – lizard||el cementerio (conjunto de tumbas) – cemetery (set of graves)|
|la libreta – notebook||el cónclave (grupo de cardenales) – conclave (group of cardinals)|
|la nave – ship||la confederación ( conjunto de estados) – confederation (group of states)|
|la oveja – sheep||la constelación (conjunto de estrellas) – constellation (group of stars)|
|la pezuña – hoof||la despensa (grupo de alimentos) – pantry (set of food)|
|el ratón – mouse||el ejército (grupo de soldados) – army (group of soldiers)|
|el riñon – kidney||el formulario (grupo de fórmulas) – form (group of formulas)|
4. Countable Nouns vs. Uncountable Nouns
Countable nouns–los sustantivos contables–are all the nouns that you can count or measure. Check it, can you say for example un gato, dos gatos, tres gatos (one cat, two cats, three cats)? Yes, then, it’s countable.
Uncountable nouns–los sustantivos no contables– are the nouns that you can’t count or measure. Yes, it’s that simple. In this group, you’ll find liquids (leche/milk, agua/water), powders and spices (harina/flour, sal/salt), abstract nouns (felicidad/happiness), feelings and sensations (miedo/fear), and some type of food (queso/cheese).
Here are more examples of nouns from this group.
Countable Nouns vs. Uncountable Nouns Chart
|COUNTABLE NOUNS||UNCOUNTABLE NOUNS|
|la calle – street||el aceite – oil|
|el conejo – rabbit||la alegría – joy|
|la familia – family||el ardor – burning|
|el globo – balloon||la bondad – kindness|
|el kilo – kilo||el brillo – glow|
|la lágrima – tear||el coraje – courage|
|la molécula – molecule||la dicha – bliss|
|la planta – plant||el té – tea|
|el plato – plate||la temperatura – temperature|
|la silla – chair||el viento – wind|
5. Simple Nouns vs. Compound Nouns
This group is even simpler to grasp than the previous one. Los sustantivos simples are the ones that are formed with one word only, like chamarra (jacket), vaso (glass), barba (beard).
Los sustantivos Compuestos, are made of two or more words, for example el abrelatas (abrir + latas) – can opener.
Do you want to see more examples of nouns from this group?
Simple Nouns vs. Compound Nouns Chart
|SIMPLE NOUNS||COMPOUND NOUNS|
|la águila – eagle||albiceleste – white and blue|
|el anzuelo – hook||el arcoiris – rainbow|
|la choza – hut||el cortafuegos – firewall|
|la cuna – cradle||el cuentagotas – dropper|
|las gafas – glasses||el / la guardameta – goalkeeper|
|la granja – farm||el paraguas – umbrella|
|el timón -rudder||el pararrayos – lightning rod|
|el velero -sailboat||pelirrojo – redhead|
|la brisa – breeze||el portarretratos – picture frame|
|el compás – compass||el sacapuntas – pencil sharpener|
6. Animate Nouns vs. Inanimate Nouns
You can also classify nouns according to the fact if they do or don’t have life. Animate nouns—los sustantivos animados—refer to all living things. It means that all people and animals will belong to this group but also cartoon characters: caballo (horse), mujer (woman), la hada de los dientes (tooth fairy).
Inanimate nouns—los sustantivos inanimados—are all the things that lack life, for example la piedra (stone), el árbol (tree).
Check this table to see more examples of nouns from this group.
Animate Nouns vs. Inanimate Nouns Chart
|ANIMATE NOUNS||INANIMATE NOUNS|
|el centauro – centaur||la alfombra – carpet|
|el escarabajo – beetle||el colchón – mattress|
|el esposo – husband||la fogata – campfire|
|el gusano – worm||la galleta – cookie|
|la luciérnaga – firefly||la hacha – the axe|
|la madrina – godmother||el hilo – yarn|
|la oveja – sheep||las medias – socks|
|el / la periodista – journalist||el pizarrón– blackboard|
|el pulpo – octopus||el serrucho – saw|
|el sobrino – nephew||el sótano – cellar|
I know it was a lot to digest in one setting but you can be proud of yourself. You are now an expert on sustantivos and can give plenty of examples of nouns in Spanish.
If you want to take your newly acquired knowledge to the next level, you must practice. The best way is obviously with another person that can spot and correct your mistakes and challenge you to go further and further.
To strengthen your skills, you can sign up for a free class with one of our friendly and professional, Spanish-speaking native teachers. Take your examples of nouns to your class and practice them in a one-to-one conversation.
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