Singular and Plural in Spanish – How do you form them?

singular-plural-spanish
This post includes:

– Peter, ¿lees muchos libros en español?

– No, solo he leído un libro en español, pero he visto todas las películas de Isabel Coixet en español. ¿Y tú?

– Yo estoy viendo una serie mexicana: “La casa de las flores”. Me encantan las series dramáticas.

Knowing the gender of words is as important as knowing the numbers in Spanish. But what is a word’s number? 1, 2, 3…? Well, not exactly, but it’s very easy to understand. The grammatical number of a word indicates whether it is singular or plural, that is, whether we are referring to one thing (a book) or more than one (many books).

What Is Singular and Plural?

A word is singular when it refers to a single unit: persona (= 1 person), casa (= 1 house), perro (= 1 dog)…

En la recepción está esperando una persona.
A person is waiting for you at the reception desk.

En el parque hay un perro.
– In the park there is a dog.

Miguel tiene una casa en la playa.
– Miguel has a house on the beach.

El perro de Martina es muy bonito.
– Martina’s dog is very cute.

A word is plural when it refers to 2 or more units: personas (= 2, 3, 4… people), casas (= 2 or more people), perros (2 or more dogs)…

En la recepción están esperando cinco personas.
– Five people are waiting at the reception desk.

En el parque hay muchos perros.
– In the park there are many dogs.

Miguel tiene dos casas en la playa.
– Miguel has two houses on the beach.

Los perros de Martina son muy bonitos.
– Martina’s dogs are very nice.

How to Distinguish Singular from Plural in Spanish?

It is very easy. In most cases, plural words end in -s and singular words end in a vowel (-a, -e, -i, -o, -u) or another consonant (-n, -r, -l…).

SINGULAR PLURAL

cama
(bed)

camas
(beds)

coche
(car)

coches
(cars)

taxi

taxis

gato
(cat)

gatos
(cats)

menú

menús

caracol
(snail)

caracoles
(snails)

sillón
(armchair)

sillones
(armchairs)

reloj
(watch)

relojes
(watches)

ciudad
(city)

ciudades
(cities)

carnet
(license)

carnets
(licenses)

There are some exceptions to this. If you want to learn this and much more, read on and discover everything you need to master the singular and plural in Spanish.

How to Form Plural in Spanish?

As a general rule, singular nouns are formed into plural by adding -s (casacasas) or -es (doctordoctores), but there are some other general rules you need to know in order to speak Spanish with confidence and avoid mistakes.

General Rules

1. Words ending in a vowel form the plural by adding an s

SINGULAR (-vowel) PLURAL (+s)

camiseta
(T-shirt)

camiseta
(T-shirts)

hombre
(man)

hombre
(men)

gato
(cat)

gatos
(cats)

taxi

taxis

espíritu
(spirit)

espíritus
(spirits)

There are two options for words ending in or :

ñu → ñus / ñúes
maniquí → maniquís / maniquíes

¡Attention!

Words of French origin, like menu and shampoo, have only one correct option:

menú → menús
champú → champús

Menúes” y “champúes” – These forms are incorrect.

2. Words ending in a consonant form the plural by adding es

SINGULAR (-consonant) PLURAL (+es)

profesor
(teacher)

profesores
(teachers)

árbo
(tree)

árboles
(trees)

reunión
(meeting)

reuniones
(meetings)

reloj
(watch)

relojes
(watches)

álbum
(album)

álbumes
(albums)

Plural for words ending in -y is formed by also adding -es to the end:

ley → leyes
rey → reyes
buey → bueyes

Attention!

Plural formation rules may vary for words taken from other languages:

jersey → jerséis
gay → gais

3. Words ending in -s do not change to plural

SINGULAR (-s) PLURAL (=)

el lunes
(Monday)

los lunes
(Mondays)

el microondas
(microwave)

los microondas
(microwaves)

el paraguas
(umbrella)

los paraguas
(umbrellas)

el lavavajillas
(dishwasher)

los lavavajillas
(dishwashers)

el cumpleaños
(birthday)

los cumpleaños
(birthdays)

As you can see in the table above, the article is the only word that changes.

No te olvides de coger el paraguas.
No te preocupes. Tengo los paraguas en el coche. Tengo tres.

Exceptions!

Within this group there are some exceptions that do change into plural by adding -es

mes → meses

autobús → autobuses

dios → dioses

Within these exceptions are included nationalities that have their masculine form ending in -s. For example: 

francés → franceses
inglés → ingleses
irlandés → irlandeses
finlandés → finlandeses

islandés → islandeses
escocés → escoceses
galés → galeses
senegalés → senegaleses

Los franceses inventaron la mayonesa. 

Los irlandeses crearon el chocolate con leche.

Check out our blogpost about Nationalities, Countries and Languages in Spanish, which was prepared for you by our Spanish teachers.

continents

4. Words ending in –z change into plural by adding –ces

SINGULAR (-z) PLURAL (-ces)

pez
(fish)

peces
(fish)

luz
(light)

luces 
(lights)

juez
(judge)

jueces
(judges)

disfraz
(costume)

disfraces
(costumes)

5. Mixed groups (masculine and feminine) form the plural by taking the masculine plural form

el niño + la niña = los niños
el doctor + la doctora = los doctores
el padre + la madre = los padres

PRACTICE!

Ready to practice?

Special Cases

Although most Spanish words follow some of the general rules we have seen above, there are some others that do not follow any of them. Here are the special cases in Spanish:

1. Words that are always plural

Some nouns can only be used in plural, even when referring to a single object. Here are some examples of some of the most frequent nouns of this type:

Me he comprado unas tijeras nuevas para el colegio.
I bought some new scissors for school.

En la tienda venden muchas tijeras diferentes.
The store sells many different scissors.

¿Dónde están tus gafas azules?
Where are your blue glasses?

Antonia tiene 40 gafas en su casa. Todos los días usa unas diferentes.
Antonia has 40 glasses at home. She wears different ones every day.

– Juan va a pasar estas vacaciones en Venecia.
+ ¿Otra vez? En todas las vacaciones siempre va al norte de Italia.
– Juan is going to spend this vacation in Venice.
+ Again? Every vacation he always goes to northern Italy.

2. Words that are always singular

Just as there are words that can only be used in plural form, there are also some words that we only use in singular. Here are some examples of the most common ones:

Practicar deporte es muy bueno para la salud.
Practicing sports is very good for your health.

No me gusta trabajar con todo este caos.
I don’t like to work with all this chaos.

Lo mejor para la sed es beber agua.
The best thing for thirst is to drink water.

El hambre no me deja concentrarme. Necesito comer algo.
Hunger keeps me from concentrating. I need to eat something.

3. Collective nouns

In Spanish, as in other languages, there are words that refer to a group of people. These words are called collective nouns and are singular: la orquesta, la tripulación, la familia, la gente, el archipiélago, el equipo… Remember that verbs agree with nouns in Spanish so both of them must be singular:

Aquí la gente no habla inglés.
(la gente = las personas)

En España la familia tiene mucha importancia para las personas.
(la familia = los padres, los hijos, los abuelos…)

Attention!

All the articles, adjectives, verbs, etc. that go with these nouns and collective nouns must agree with them, so all of them must be singular.

La gente es muy simpática en Tenerife. 

*La gente son muy simpáticas en Tenerife. ❌

⚠️ Using the noun la gente with the verb in plural is one of the most common mistakes among Spanish learners. 🙈 One way to avoid this type of mistakes is to learn new vocabulary using whole sentences, instead of memorizing single words without any context or reference. Here are three examples to show you how you can learn in this way:

La gente española come churros con chocolate. 
Spanish people eat churros with chocolate. 

En España la gente es muy abierta.
In Spain people are very open. 

Normalmente la gente tiene mascotas: un perro o un gato.
Normally people have pets: a dog or a cat.

Now, think about the people of your country and their habits or traditions and complete these sentences. Use these examples so you don’t forget that gente is a singular feminine word in Spanish:

  • En mi país la gente come _____________.
  • La gente es muy _____________. 
  • Normalmente la gente (no) tiene _____________.
4. Foreign words

In some cases, foreign words widely used are officially taken into the Spanish language and included in our dictionaries. For these words, plural formation rules vary depending on the particular case and the span of time it has been in use.

+es +s

club → clubes

clip → clips

eslogan → eslóganes

robot → robots

PRACTICE!

Now practice special cases!

Adjectives: Singular and Plural

In Spanish, adjectives need to adapt to the noun they accompany. In grammar, this is what we call agreement:

La casa pequeña. El apartamento pequeño.
Las casas pequeñas. Los apartamentos pequeños.

Plural formation for adjectives follow the same basic rules as nouns.

SINGULAR (-vowel) PLURAL (+s)

guapo(a)

guapos / guapas

pequeño(a)

pequeños / pequeñas

amable

amables

SINGULAR (-consonant) PLURAL (+s)

infantil

infantiles

hablador

habladores

cortés

cortés

joven

jóvenes

Attention!

Plural formation for adjectives ending in –s is always regular.

Es un camarero muy cortés.
Son unos camareros muy corteses.

Me gusta mucho ese restaurante francés.
Me gustan mucho esos restaurantes franceses.

Numbers in Spanish do not have singular or plural forms:

Tengo ocho libros interesantes. ✅
Tengo ochos libros interesantes. ❌

Check out our detailed blogpost about Telling the Numbers in Spanish.

PRACTICE!

Hopefully, now everything about singular and plural in Spanish is clear! Practice what you’ve learned today and continue your Spanish learning journey with other resources we provide! Good luck 😉

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