The noun in Spanish: types, classes and uses

Spanish nouns play a very important role in everyday conversations. The Real Academia Española defines nouns in this way: "A word with inherent gender that designates persons, animals or things and is capable of functioning as the nucleus of the subject". In short, nouns are words that are used to refer to people, places, things or actions.

Everything you need to know about nouns in Spanish

Let's look at the rules and uses of nouns in Spanish to understand how they are used.

  • In Spanish, nouns can be masculine or feminine and are usually accompanied by an article. The definite article the is: el, la, los and las. The indefinite articles are: un, una, unos, unas.

    In general, we can say that words ending in -a are feminine and words ending in -o are masculine. 
  • Words ending in -dad, -tion and -sion are always feminine.

    Words ending in -e, -i , -u and consonant have no clear rules.
  • In Spanish, only proper nouns are capitalised. A proper noun is, for example: Sabine, Luis, Pedro, Madrid, Caracas, Colombia, etc.

  • To form the plural in Spanish we use -s if the word ends in a vowel and -es if the word ends in a consonant.

Types of nouns

  • Proper nouns. They uniquely and singularly designate people, animals, places, events, companies or things. They must be written with a capital letter. For example: Roma, Mariela, Hamlet.
  • Common nouns. They designate objects, places, people, animals, or abstract entities, without distinguishing one from the other. They are usually accompanied by an article. For example: boat, horse, child.
  • Abstract nouns. They refer to ideas, experiences, qualities or imaginary objects created by thought, but which are imperceptible to the senses. For example: luck, life, love, truth.
  • Concrete nouns. They name material objects, tangible and perceptible by the senses. For example: stone, pineapple, mud.
  • Countable nouns. They name tangible objects or substances that can be counted, divided or multiplied and grouped together. They can be used in the plural and can be quantified (half, half). For example: apple, notebook, flower.
  • Uncountable nouns. They designate entities that are not divisible. Although they are divisible, they cannot be separated into units or grouped into sets. They are generally used in the singular and do not accept cardinal numerals (one, two, one hundred) as modifiers. For example: air, wind, water, sand, courage, ferocity. There are expressive plurals that are often considered uncountable nouns. For example: the waters, the skies, the airs (they do not indicate several units).
  • Collective nouns. They refer to collections or groups. E.g.: shoal, student body, herd, team.
  • Individual nouns. They refer to a single individual, entity or object. When they are in the plural, they can refer to more than one. For example: giraffe, table, moustache. Some individual nouns are used only in the plural. For example: nuptials, betrothal, bridal, manners, tickle.


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