Making Nouns Plural in Spanish: Grammar Rules

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Danielle Geary

Danielle teaches at the Georgia Institute of Technology. She holds a Doctor of Education with research concentration in Study Abroad and Foreign Language Acquisition.

Using plural nouns in Spanish is done quite differently than in English. Explore Spanish grammar rules and learn how to make Spanish nouns and their definite articles plural, discover how to address a mixed group of different genders, and put into practice what you've learned with a final activity. Updated: 08/25/2021

Making Nouns Plural in Spanish

Well, you've learned about el libro and la mesa, but we're not always talking about just one thing. Singular is great, but what about plural? What if we want to say books, tables, countries or cities? Vamos, let's find out. It's easy if the word ends in a vowel. For any word that ends in a vowel, just add '-s:'

  • libro becomes libros.
  • mesa becomes mesas.
  • chico becomes chicos.
  • chica becomes chicas.

Let's stop here for a moment, because, if you realize it yet or not, you're about to have a question for me! Over there's a group of guys (chicos), and over there's a group of girls (chicas), right? Which leads us to the inevitable question: what if it's a group of guys and girls together? Well, then Spanish goes back to the original '-o' sound. A group of guys and girls together would be described as los chicos even though there are chicas in the group. Thus, you use the masculine plural form of the noun to describe any group that includes both males and females.

Now, let's move on. Words that end in consonants are a little different. Instead of just adding '-s,' you add '-es:'

  • ciudad becomes ciudades.
  • país becomes países.
  • profesor becomes profesores.
  • postal becomes postales.

There is a weirdo rule here, as always in grammar, and this is it: if the word ends with a '-z,' you change the z to c and add '-es.'

  • lápiz becomes lápices.
  • luz becomes luces.
  • actriz becomes actrices.

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  • 0:05 Making Nouns Plural in Spanish
  • 2:24 Plural Definite Articles
  • 3:39 Plural Practice
  • 6:04 Lesson Summary
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Plural Definite Articles

So, now we know how to make nouns plural, but what about that pesky definite article that always seems to stick around? You've already learned the definite articles - el and la - for singular nouns, but they won't work for plural nouns. If the noun is plural, the definite article has to be plural, too. The plural definite articles in Spanish are los and las. So, what does that mean exactly? It means that el, la, los and las all mean 'the' in Spanish! Four words for our one word, because nouns and articles in Spanish must agree in both gender and number. Gender refers to masculine or feminine, and number refers to singular or plural. Let's break it down:

Singular Plural
el = the (masculine) los = the (masculine)
la = the (feminine) las = the (feminine)

Now we need to put it all together. Think of it like a puzzle. All the pieces have a place and they all have to fit!

Plural Practice

Let's see: libro. How do we make it plural? Well, does it end in a vowel? Yes. So we know we add -s. Libros. Now, is it masculine or feminine? Masculine. So, which definite article goes with masculine, plural nouns? Los! So, los libros means 'the books.' Los matches libros. For all you science people out there, think of it as a chemical equation - it has to be balanced. El does not match libros. This would be a lopsided equation! Los, however, matches libros. Fantástico! Now, it's balanced.

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