Quality Spanish Language Services
TranslationsSpanish ClassesCultural ConsultingVoice OverLearn SpanishBooks   Contact Us


   Resources to Learn Spanish> Grammar>Nouns
-Other Grammar topics

Spanish Nouns



The noun is the name of anything that refers to people (Elena), things (la casa / the house), animals (el perro / the dog) and sometimes to qualities (nobleza / noble) and immaterial things perceived only through the senses (esperanza / hope).



The noun function


       The noun functions are:


a) Nucleus of  the sentence:           

     La casa es de color amarilla / The house is yellow.


b) Nucleus of appositives:                 

     Mi país preferido, México, tiene 31  Estados y un Distrito Federal./

        My preferred country, México, has 31 States and a Federal District.


c) Direct object (DO) :                        

     Comí arroz en Navidad./ I ate rice on Christmas day.



     It can also do the work that could be done through other words:


a) They can work  as nucleus of predicates without a verb:

         Casa vieja, problema seguro. / Old house, sure problem.


b) Nucleus of the sentence that describes the way of being or quality of the subject:                          

         Newton es el científico que descubrió la ley de la gravedad./ Newton is the scientist who discovered law of gravity.


c) Nucleus of the circumstantial object (CO): 

        Alimenté al pájaro el  martes./ I fed the bird last Tuesday.

back to top  


Articles and nouns


  Nouns usually require either a definite article or an indefinite article (el, la, los, las & lo or un, una, unos, unas) before them:



                    La casa / the house

                    Una casa  / a house

         (In this example, casa is the noun and la is the definite article or where casa is the noun and una is the indefinite article).

el -- un            masc. sing.

la -- una          fem. sing.

los -- unos       masc. plural

las -- unas       fem. plural

lo -- un            neuter (usually singular)  

back to top  


Noun gender


     All the nouns have a gender (masculine, feminine or neutral). There are some nouns that have an ambiguous gender (el mar, la mar), others can have both genders but will suffer a change of meaning between one and the other (el cura (meaning the priest) - la cura (meaning the cure)). 

        There are nouns that do not change gender (la serpiente hembra o macho,- meaning the female or male serpent) and the nouns where the article makes the difference of the gender (la jóven or el jóven ).


 The gender of a noun can be known using the following conditions:


*This condition works with singular words only.

If the word ends with: Example: then.....
-n el ratón /  
the mouse.
Ninety-nine percent of the time, the word will be masculine.  Exceptions: la mano, la noche, la foto, la moto.
-o el aeroplano / 
the airplane.
-l el rosal / 
the rosebush.
-e el nombre / 
the name.
-r el corredor / 
the hall.
-s el paraguas / 
the umbrella.
-ma el panorama / 
the scenery.
Usually are masculine: el clima, el diploma, el drama, el sistema, el aroma, el poema, el tema, etc.
-pa el mapa / 
the map.
-ta el profeta / 
the prophet.
-d la caridad / 
the charity.
Ninety-nine percent of the time, the word will be feminine. Exceptions: el lápiz, el avión, el camión, el día.
-a la cama / the bed.
-z la luz / the light.
-ión la canción / 
the song.
-ie la serie / 
the series.
-sis la diálisis / 
the dialysis.
-itis la apendicitis / the appendicitis.
-umbre la muchedumbre / the crowd.
If the noun starts with a stressed "a", "á" or "ha" The word will  continue to be  feminine, when in singular it will receive the article "el"; when plural it will switch to "las".
águila / eagle el águila, las águilas / the eagle(s)
área / area el área, las áreas / the area(s)
hacha / axe el hacha, las hachas / the ax(es)
ala / wing el ala, las alas / the wing(s)
alba / dawn el alba, las albas / the dawn(s)
hada / fairy el hada, las hadas / the fairy(ies)
hambre / hungry el hambre, las hambres / the hunger(s)
aula / classroom el aulalas aulas / the classroom(s)
alma / soul el alma, las almas / the soul(s)
If the word ends with "-e". la muerte /
  the death
Some can be feminine: la pirámide, la gente, la carne, la suerte, etc.
el aire /  
the air
Others can be masculine: el padre, el hambre, el hombre, el coche, etc.
If the word ends with "-ista". el oficinista / 
the clerk
They can be masculine according to the person that you are talking about: if you are talking about a male person who works in the office, then write the masculine article and then the noun: el oficinista, otherwise, write the feminine article "la" and write the same noun: la oficinista.
la oficinista / 
the clerk
If the word ends with "imiento(s)". el conocimiento / the knowledge All will be masculine.
el ofrecimiento / the offer

back to top  

Some nouns can change gender:

Change the gender by: Example  
Adding an "a" at the end of the word to make it feminine or by changing the "o" for an  "a". el  escritor--la escritora / writer (f. & m.). Usually this rule works with professions, animals, or in state of being. Consider beings that could be found in both genders (female and masculine)
el señor--la señora / Mr.--Ms.
el zorro--la zorra / fox.
el niño-la niña / boy-- girl.
el hijo--la hija/ son--daughter.
el muchacho--la muchacha / youngster (f. & m.).
Changing the word. el toro--la  vaca / bull-- cow. Many of these nouns have a similar change of word when in English.
el rey--la reina / king--queen.
el actor--la actriz / 
actor-- actress.
el poeta--la poetiza /
poet (f. & m.).
Changing the article. el artista--la artista /
artist (f. & m.).
Usually this rule works with professions(-ista endings), or in states of being.
el jóven--la jóven / young man -- young woman.
el pastor--la pastora / shepherd--shepherdess.
el tenista---la tenista / tennis player (f. & m.).
Changing the article causes a change of meaning. el policía / the policeman. Other words: orden, cura, frente
la policía / the police force.
el papa / the Pope.
la papa / the potato.
el cometa / the comet.
la cometa / the kite.
el guía / the guide person.
la guía / the guide book.

back to top   

Gender and quantity

They all have the quantity denoted (singular or plural).


                            La casa / the house (singular)
                      Las casas / the houses (plural)

Sort of nouns Definition  Example Translation
Common or proper They refer to the common characteristics, to the kind or sort of people, things or animals. perro dog
flor flower
idioma language
automóvil car
They call people, things or animals but in a way that they are different from one another in the same kind, sort or species. Ballena azul Blue whale
Laurie Laurie
Minesota Minnesota
Concrete or abstract They call to anything that could be perceived through the senses only. aire air
plato dish
fruta fruit
They refer to anything that can’t be perceived through the senses only. amor love
esperanza hope
Individual or Collective They call anything in singular. árbol tree
They call remaining in singular  a group of things or beings. rebaño flock

back to top  

Pluralizing nouns

Almost any noun and adjective can be pluralized.

To transform a singular  noun or adjective into plural consider the next 3 options:

If the word ends with: Do this: Example:
any vowel: 
a, e, i, o, u
add an "s" rosa-
any consonant add "es" camión-
-és, -ión. drop the accent mark and add "es" revés-
with -z change the "z" for "ces" nuez-
If it has a plural ending only change the article to plural el paraguas-
los paraguas
el lunes-
los lunes
el martes-
los martes

back to top   

Noun possessive form

The possessive form of a noun such as "Nancy’s house.."  doesn’t exist in Spanish, so the way to express the possessive is:

        "The house of Nancy..." (la casa de Nancy..)   

To pluralize, just pluralize the possessed noun: 

        "Las casas de Nancy..."

back to top    

Derived nouns

The derived nouns can be formed  and come from a primitive or root word:

*It is important to mention that some of these derivatives are hard to find in regular dictionaries because of their uncommon  usage.

Kinds of derivative nouns: Meaning: How to form them: Examples:
Augmentative Makes the noun to be  understood  as a big element:

root of the word   +    ón

cucharón -
big spoon (ladle)
                                 azo cucharazo-
big spoon
                                 ota cucharota -
big spoon
Diminutive Makes the noun to be  understood as a little, poor or cute element as in English : Ann- Annie,  book-booklet, etc.

root of the word    +    ita

little spoon


riachuelo -
little river


cucharilla -
little spoon
Naturally derived The nouns don't change, the noun by itself means that

root of the word    +    eda

arboleda  -
           ería              minería -
ero minero -
ista pianista -
Names They are nothing but the last names   Pérez
Despising Makes the noun to be understood as a worthless  element:

root of the word    +    acho

  -zuela mujerzuela, plazuela




pajarraco (ugly bird)





back to top    


Converting nouns into verbs


 A noun can be transformed into a verb by keeping the root of the  word and:        

                adding  " -ando" or "iendo"    (gerund)


                adding   " -ar"," -er" or "-ir"    (infinitive)


For example:

                primitive word:              cuchara                 (spoon)

                root:                              cuchar

                *gerund:                        cuchareando         (spooning)

                present participle:          está cuchareando  (is spooning)

                *infinitive:                      cucharear

                present tense:               yo cuchareo, tú cuchareas, él ...



  How to find the root of a word:

                1.-  Eliminate any suffix, prefix, and/or derivative.

                2.-  Eliminate any ending that can guide to a gender or number. (Usually the root word will end in a consonant)

                3.-  You will need the auxiliary verb "estar"  to create a sentence:


                  El niño está cuchareando la sopa

                    The boy is spooning the soup.

back to top    


Converting verbs into nouns


A verb can be transformed into a noun following the next steps:

                1.-     Consider the root verb or infinitive tense

                2.-     Eliminate the -ar, -er, or -ir ending

                3.-     Add  "-imiento"

                4.-     Add a masculine article


                 root verb: conocer (to know or to meet)


                 conocimiento =  knowledge   

                 el conocimiento =  the knowledge  

back to top   



        Other Grammar topics

                Accents           Adjectives          Alphabet           Articles           Conjunctions         Nouns

                Orthographic Rules         Prefixes         Prepositions       Verbs