Nouns are used to name all sorts of things: people, animals, objects, places, ideas, emotions, feelings, virtues, defects.
Examples of nouns in English: cat, dog, house, river, Richard, Santiago, courage..
Spanish nouns may be masculine or feminine. Unlike English, in Spanish even inanimate nouns are classified as masculine or feminine.
You can usually tell whether a noun is masculine or feminine by its ending.
- Nouns ending in ‘s’ are masculine: país, autobús, mes, compas
- Nouns ending in ‘ma’ are masculine: puma, sistema, tema
- Nouns ending in ‘r’, are masculine: motor, par, cráter
- Nouns ending in ‘l’, are masculine: pastel, papel, redil, mantel
- Nouns ending in ‘o’ are masculine: libro, niño, sueño, diccionario
- Nouns ending in ‘n’ are masculine: jabón, jardín, capitán, atún
- About 50% of nouns ending in ‘e’ are masculine: puente, diente, peine
Perhaps ‘SMARLONE’ will help you to remember the above!
- Nouns ending in ‘a’ are feminine: niña, mesa, ventana
- Nouns ending in ‘ción’ are feminine: canción, nación, situación
- Nouns ending in ‘sión’ are feminine: profesión, posesión,
- Nouns ending in ‘d’ are feminine: amistad, ciudad, voluntad
- Nouns ending in ‘z’ are feminine: paz, cruz, luz
- About 50% of nouns ending in ‘e’ are feminine:
- Nouns ending in -ista can be masculine or feminine: turista, dentista, periodista.
- Nouns ending in -ente can be masculine or feminine: gerente, cliente, dirigente.
- Nouns ending in -ante can be masculine or feminine: visitante, agente, dibujante.
Singular and Plural Nouns in Spanish
Most nouns in Spanish are either singular (one) or plural (several).
The plural of nouns that end in a vowel (-a, -e, -i, -o, -u) is usually formed by adding an -s.
Examples: silla/sillas; padre/padres; taxi/taxis; mango/mangos;
Nouns that end in a consonant usually form the plural by adding -es.
Examples: cartel/carteles; pared/paredes; joven/jóvenes
Exceptions include nouns ending in -s or -x which have the same form in both singular and plural:
Examples: virus/virus, tórax/tórax, crisis/crisis.
When a noun ends in -z, the plural is formed by changing -z to -ces.
el lápiz > los lápices; la raíz > las raíces.
Nouns ending in -í, -ú, -tonics, add -es.
el colibrí > los colibríes; el bambú > los bambúes; el rubí > los rubíes.
The Article in Spanish
This is the word that goes before the noun, like a/an or the in English. Articles in Spanish may be definite or indefinite, and feminine or masculine, and singular or plural.
As in English, we use the indefinite article in Spanish when we are talking about someone or something without specifying precisely which person or thing, e.g. “Do you have a pen (any pen)?” Although in English the indefinite article is always a/an, in Spanish the choice of indefinite article has to agree with the gender of the noun being referred to: un hombre, una cara, un coche, una casa.
The equivalent of the English ‘some’ as in I met some friends is unos (masculine) and unas (feminine).
Definite articles in Spanish
The definite article in Spanish is used when we are talking about a particular person or thing, e.g. “Do you have the tickets?” or “The street is crowded.”
In English, the same definite article is used with all nouns, masculine, feminine and others: the man, the woman, the car, the house.
In Spanish, a different definite article is used depending on gender: el hombre, la mujer, el coche, la casa.
In English, the same definite article is used with all nouns, singular, plural, and uncountable/mass nouns: the man, the men; the woman, the women; the house, the houses; the rice; the fear.
In Spanish, a different definite article is used with singular and plural nouns: el hombre, los hombres; la mujer, las mujeres; el coche, los coches, la casa, las casas.
When something is mentioned for the first time, we often use an indefinite article; when we mention the same thing later, we often use a definite article.
Example: Estaba sentado en una silla. La silla se rompió. (He was sitting on a chair. The chair broke.)
The Neutral Article in Spanish
In Spanish, a neutral article is placed before an adjective which is being used as a noun.
Examples: Su conducción es lo peor. (His driving is the worst.) Lo interesante del libro son los ejercicios. (The interesting thing about the book is the exercises.) Lo raro es … (The strange thing is …).