For English speakers, Spanish plurals aren’t too bad. Like in English, you generally just add an “s” to the end. Unfortunately, nothing is ever quite that simple. As always, there are a few differences. But don’t worry – this post will walk you through the whole process.
- Forming Basic Plural Nouns
Let’s get a few things clear first. A noun, as you may know, is the person, place, or thing being talked about. A plural noun is when there is more than one person, place, or thing. In English, when we want to show that we’re talking about more than one noun we add an “s” to the end of it:
- I have a dog.
- I have three dogs.
For Spanish nouns that end in vowels, it’s exactly the same:
- Tengo un perro.
- Tengo tres perros.
And it doesn’t matter if the noun is feminine or masculine:
- Juan tiene una manzana.
- Juan tiene cuatro manzanas.
However, for nouns that don’t end in vowels, it’s a little different.
- Nouns That End with Consonants
For nouns that end with consonants, like televisión or avión, we need something a little different. Try saying “televisions” with a Spanish accent. Pretty hard, right? It just sounds like English. That’s because in Spanish nouns that end with consonants need an “es” at the end.
- Tengo una televisión.
- Tengo unas televisiones.
Don’t forget that the accent in television gets taken off when it becomes plural!
There are no rules without exceptions, especially in grammar. Luckily, there’s only one exception to plural nouns in Spanish: nouns that end with “z,” like la voz or el lápiz. In the plural they’re spelled with a “c”:
- la voz
- las voces
- el lápiz
- los lápices
Luckily, lapis keeps its accent, so that’s one less thing to worry about. Bu the next question is: what about that el and la?
- Pluralising Articles and Adjectives
This is where things get a little trickier. Unlike English nouns, in Spanish not only does the noun become plural, but so do its article and its adjective, if it has them. If you’re not sure what an article is, see my post on articles. In Spanish, the definite articles are el for masculine nouns and la feminine nouns. In the plural they look like this:
- Mira al perro. (al comes from a + el)
- Mira los perros.
- Mira la televisión.
- Mira las televisiones.
Indefinite articles in Spanish are uno for the masculine and una for the feminine.
- Quiero un libro.
- Quiero unos libros.
- Quiero una manzana.
- Quiero unas manzanas.
Often, however, words come with descriptions: a strong drink or a green apple. In Spanish, these need to be pluralised to match the noun they describe:
- Quiero un libro bueno.
- Quiero unos libros buenos.
- Quiero una manzana verde.
- Quiero unas manzanas verdes.
This can get tricky when you have an adjective that needs to be changed for gender and number like rojo, or “red.”
- Busco un coche rojo.
- Busco unos coches rojos.
- Quiero la manzana roja.
- Quiero las manzanas rojas.
That said, Spanish plurals really aren’t too scary. Remembering to match the adjective to the noun might take a while but, with a bit of practice, it will soon come naturally!
Ready for a Spanish practice?