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Nouns and gender in Spanish (1)

The gender concept is very important in Spanish. We’ve discussed one aspect of this already in the previous lesson on subject pronouns.  Not only some subject pronouns are affected by the gender, but also adjectives and nouns. We will discuss Spanish adjectives in an upcoming lesson. The focus of this lesson is Spanish nouns.

In this lesson, you will learn how to form the plurals in Spanish. Then, we will make a brief introduction to Spanish articles by discussing the definite and indefinite articles. The article and gender concept will be explained in more detail in the next lesson.  

Singular and plural nouns       

A plural Spanish noun is formed according to the rules in the following table.




-a, -e, -i, -o, -u


casa, casas

-as, -es, -is, -os,-us

no change

lunes, lunes



actriz, actrices

-ás, -és, -ís, -ós, ús


país, países

in all other cases


mes,meses; ciudad, ciudades


  • The plural of the most Spanish nouns are formed by attaching either an –s, or –es to the singular.
  • If a Spanish noun ends in a vowel, an “s” is attached to its singular to form the plural.
  • If the noun ends in -s, -és, -ís, -ós, ús, the accent is kept and –es is attached to form the plural

! Exceptions. Learn these two well-known exceptions:

autobús -> autobuses (the accent disappears in the plural)

televisión -> televisiones (the accent disappears in the plural)

  • If the noun ends in –z, in the plural form, the z changes to c, and an –es is added.
  • If the noun ends in -as, -es, -is, -os,-us, the singular and plural forms are the same.


Learn some words which are always used in plural form












How to form the plurals of the nouns which describe people

Do you remember what we discussed about nosotros and nosotras in the previous lesson? We saw that if the group contains mixed gender we need to use nosotros and for the groups containing only females, we need to use nosotras. 

This information can be summarized as

  • masculine + feminine = masculine

The same formula is valid for all nouns describing people in Spanish. For example;

  • niño is little boy and niña is little girl. If you want to refer to boys you will form the plural as niños. If you want to refer to girls, you should use niñas. But if you need to refer to a group containing girls and even one boy, you have to use niños.

The Spanish nouns which end in –o, mostly refer to a male. Similarly, most nouns which refer to a female ends in –a. For instance, hijo is son and hija is daughter.

One of the best ways to stick these concepts in your mind is to learn the names of the family members. Most of the names describing family members end in –o and –a for male and female members respectively. Of course, there are some exceptions.  



Family members in Spanish




hermano (brother)

hermana (sister)

hermanos (brothers & sisters)

hermanas (sisters)

hijo (son)

hija (daughter)

hijos (sons & daughters)

hijas (daughters)

o (uncle)

o (aunt)

os (uncles)

as (aunts)

abuelo (grandfather)

abuela (grandmother)

abuelos (grandparents)

abuelas (grandmothers)

nieto (grandson)

nieta (granddaughter)

nietos (grandchildren)

nietas (granddaugthers)

sobrino (nephew)

sobrina (niece)

sobrinos (nephews & nieces)

sobrinas (nieces)

primo (cousin, male)

prima (cousin, female)

primos (male & female cousins)

primas (female cousins)

cuñado (brother in law)


cuñada (sister in law)


cuñados (brothers & sisters in law)

cuñadas (sisters in law)

suegro (father in law)

suegra (mother in law)

suegros (parents in law)

suegras (mothers in law)


As you see, all the nouns given in the table end in o/a. The important exceptions here are the words for mother and father:

  • padre (father); madre (mother); padres (parents)

! NOTE marido is husband but wife is not marida it is mujer or esposa.      

Introduction to Spanish articles

A Spanish noun is either feminine or masculine. To understand this issue better, remember that English has definite and indefinite articles as well. And they are "the" and "a/an" respectively. Only, English does not take into account any gender issue as far as the articles are concerned. 

As mentioned above, we will deal with this subject more later. For the time being, keep in mind that the definite article for a singular masculine noun is called “el” and the definite article for a singular feminine noun is called “la”. The corresponding definite articles for plural nouns are los and las:

Definite articles

                       Singular    Plural

Masculine:            el           los

Feminine:             la            las

For example,

  • madre means mother. “The” mother is “la” madre. “The” mothers is “las” madres.
  • padre means father. “The” father is “el” padre. “The” fathers is “los” padres.

Then there are indefinite articles as in English. They are summarized below

Indefinite articles            

                        Singular           Plural

Masculine:          un                 unos

Feminine:            una               unas

As you can guess un/una corresponds to English indefinite article “a”. For instance

  • The word “libro” means book and it is masculine. Therefore, “un libro” means “a book”.

The plural indefinite articles unos/unas do not have an equivalent in English. You may translate them as “some”:

  • Because libro is masculine, you need to say unos libros (some books, it is not clear which books are mentioned)
  • Casa is a feminine Spanish word which means house. Hence, “unas” casas refer to “some” houses.  

Let's Practice

Los or las?

All Exercises