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How is the plural of Spanish nouns formed?

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Making nouns plural in Spanish is quite straightforward. Similar to English, many Spanish nouns form their plural by adding -s or -es to their singular form. Let’s take a look at the following examples: 

  • casa house - casas houses

  • dolor pain - dolores pains

If you have some experience in language learning though, you might know there are some exceptions, but don’t worry. We’ll also cover these in this post, like the case of nouns that have two plural forms or those that don’t change form. Keep reading and you will become an expert in Spanish plural nouns!

Nouns that form their plural by adding -s

Let’s start from the start and explore the various cases:

  • If a Spanish noun ends in a vowel, form the plural by adding -s:

Screen Shot 2021-08-02 at 1.43.30 PM

 Exception!

An exception to this rule is nouns ending in and , both with an accent mark. Make sure you read our next article to find out about these exceptional endings.

Nouns that form their plural by adding -es

We’ve just seen the cases of the plural of nouns that end in a vowel, but what happens if a noun ends in a consonant? For most of these cases, the plural is formed by adding -es. Let’s take a look at some examples:

  • Nouns ending in -n, -r, -s, -l, -j, -d or -y:

Screen Shot 2021-09-13 at 12.49.31 PM

 Exception!

Words borrowed from another language and ending in -y have a different way to form their plural. In these cases, drop the -y and add -is. Look: 

el jersey los jerséis

el penaltylos penaltis

Let’s see a few more cases of nouns that form their plural by adding -es.

  • Some singular nouns in Spanish end in an accented vowel plus -n or -s. To make the plural, add -es and delete the accent mark:

Screen Shot 2021-08-02 at 2.00.25 PM

  • Some other singular nouns of two or more syllables end in -en. For these, an accent mark needs to be added in the plural form:

Screen Shot 2021-08-02 at 2.01.48 PM

  • For Spanish nouns ending in consonants other than -n, -r, -s, -l, -j, -d and -y, only add -s to make the plural. Look:

Screen Shot 2021-08-02 at 2.03.45 PM

  • There are a few nouns that end in -z. These require a small change in spelling to make the plural form: drop the -z, add -c and then -es:

Screen Shot 2021-08-02 at 2.06.04 PM

So far we have learned the main rules to making plural nouns in Spanish. Let’s recap quickly:

1.  add -s for: 

singular nouns that end in a vowel (except í and ú)

singular nouns that end in consonants other than -n, -r, -s, -l, -j, -d, -y

2.  add -es for: 

singular nouns that end in consonants -n, -r, -s, -l, -j, -d, -y, accented vowel + -n or -s, and -en

singular nouns that end in -z.

If you’ve read this far, and want to continue, prepare to learn all about special cases in our next article.

Summary

To sum up, making plural nouns in Spanish is pretty straightforward. Based on the noun ending in its singular form, all you need to do is add the right ending. Let’s recap the main points: 

  • If a noun ends in a vowel, simply add -s to form the plural.

  • If a noun ends in a consonant, add -es for most cases.

  • If a noun ends in -z, drop the -z and add -ces.

If you’re looking for an exercise to practice, we have created this simple activity where you can use what you’ve just learned. There is also a second exercise on singular and plural nouns in Spanish. Both exercises include an answer key for you to check your work.

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Adventures in Language, from Mango Languages, is the best place online if you want to elevate your knowledge of linguistics and your proficiency at language learning and teaching. This wealth of knowledge is just a couple clicks away.

Want to practice? Try these activities.

Natalia Molina Ceballos

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