Grammar: Nouns

Grammar: Nouns

Understanding Spanish Nouns’ Basics

  • Nouns, or ‘sustantivos’ in Spanish, can denote people, objects, places, feelings etc. They are a critical part of language understanding.
  • Unlike English, every Spanish noun is either masculine or feminine. This is an essential concept and directly affects the form of the article (the, a, an), adjective, or pronoun that is used with the noun.

Masculine and Feminine Nouns

  • Masculine nouns usually end in ‘o’, ‘ma’ or ‘l’, but there are exceptions. Examples include el libro (book), el sistema (system), el sol (sun).
  • Feminine nouns typically end in ‘a’, ‘ción’, ‘dad’, ‘tad’, ‘tud’ but again, this is not always the case. Examples include la mesa (table), la canción (song), la ciudad (city).
  • The gender of some nouns doesn’t follow a consistent rule, such as el día (day – masculine) or la mano (hand – feminine), and must be learned through memorization.

Forming Plurals and Observing Irregularities

  • The plural form of Spanish nouns is usually created by adding ‘s’ to the end of a vowel or ‘es’ to the end of a consonant.
  • If a noun ends in a ‘z’, the plural changes to ‘ces’. For example, ‘lápiz’ (pencil) becomes ‘lápices’ (pencils)
  • Be aware of irregularities. For example, the masculine noun ‘el agua’ uses ‘el’ (not ‘la’) to avoid the duplication of ‘a’ sounds.

Translations and Collective Nouns

  • Generally, English words ending in ‘ity’ can be translated into Spanish by changing ‘ity’ to ‘idad’, typically these nouns are feminine. For example, ‘university - universidad’, ‘city - ciudad’, ‘capacity - capacidad’.
  • There are also collective nouns in Spanish that are singular in form but denote a group or collection of entities, such as ‘la gente’ (people) and ‘el equipo’ (team), which follow singular verb conjugation patterns.

Use of Articles in Spanish

  • The’ in Spanish can be either ‘el’, ‘la’, ‘los’ or ‘las’ depending on the gender and number of the noun it precedes.
  • A, an or one’ in Spanish can be either ‘un’ or ‘una’ depending on the gender of the noun it precedes.
  • Usage of definite articles (the) and indefinite articles (a, an) in Spanish is more prevalent than in English. For example, we use them before days of the week, names of languages, and titles followed by names.