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The first word I learned for "furniture" in Spanish was "mueble(s)." Since then, I've been exposed to a lot more Spanish and one thing I've noticed is that there is this other word for furniture — mobiliario. Apart from the fact that muebles is much more frequent than mobiliario, are there any differences in usage between these two words or are they relatively interchangeable?

Are there any situations in which one would sound odd? For example, if I were to say, "Vamos a comprar mobiliario nuevo," would it sound odd? Though I could come to some conclusions based on things such as number of web pages I might be able to find with each, I'd appreciate a native Spanish speaker's perspective on the usage of these two words (or any other words closely related to them).


La primera palabra que aprendí para "furniture" en español fue "mueble/s". Desde entonces, he estado expuesto a mucho más español y una de las cosas que he notado es que hay esta otra palabra para "furniture" — mobiliario. Aparte del hecho de que muebles es mucho más frecuente que mobiliario, ¿hay alguna diferencia en uso entre las dos palabras? ¿O son completamente intercambiables?

¿Hay algunas situaciones en que una de estas palabras pueda sonar extraña? Por ejemplo, si dijera "Vamos a comprar mobiliario nuevo", ¿sonaría raro? Aunque podría llegar a algunas conclusiones basados en cosas como la cantidad de páginas web que se encuentra por varias combinaciones de expresión, preferiría tener la perspectiva de un/-a hispanohablante en el uso de estas dos palabras (o otras similares en significado).

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Mobiliario is a collective noun; it corresponds well with English "furniture". Mueble is a countable noun; it means "piece of furniture". Therefore you can say either

  1. Vamos a comprar muebles nuevos.
  2. Vamos a comprar mobiliario nuevo.

The difference between 1 and 2 is that when you say muebles in such a context it can be understood that you're going to buy some new pieces of furniture, but if you say mobiliario it suggests more like you're renovating all of your furniture. Similarly, suppose you say

  1. No me gustan nada estos muebles.
  2. No me gusta nada este mobiliario.

Here the difference is that in 1, someone could ask, well, which ones don't you like specifically? But in 2 it really sounds like you don't like any of the pieces of furniture, or maybe even the general style of it.

Most times in real life you'll use mueble(s). You'll only use mobiliario for special situations; it's not a rare word per se, but it's associated with commercial transactions, interior decoration, etc. You don't go to a friend's new house and praise their mobiliario, but their muebles.

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    Notice that "mobiliario" sometimes is accompanied by the adjective "completo", indicating that you can have an uncompleted mobiliario. The definition shown in the DRAE does not specify how complete is the set. Leaving that aside, great answer, as usual. – RubioRic May 5 at 12:46
  • Also I can see no difference between "No me gustan estos muebles" y "No me gusta este mobiliario" – RubioRic May 5 at 13:42
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    @RubioRic Yes, mobiliario doesn't have to mean all of the furniture; it only suggests it a little more than just saying muebles. – pablodf76 May 5 at 15:34
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    As a native Spanish (iberian) speaker, I feel this answer captures the difference between the two words perfectly. – Nubarke May 6 at 14:02
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    @Nubarke I disagree with you from the same Iberia. :-) – RubioRic May 6 at 14:36
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Practically there is no difference for a native speaker between those terms. Taking into account that you employ the plural in muebles.

Mobiliario sounds a bit more formal and it tends to be used to refer furniture located in an office or some kind of business, but it's also valid for a family home.

You can check the definitions for both terms in the DRAE.

mueble
2. m. Cada uno de los enseres movibles que sirven para los usos necesarios o para decorar casas, oficinas y todo género de locales.

which essentially match the definition provided in the Cambridge Dictionary for furniture

things such as chairs, tables, beds, cupboards, etc. that are put into a house or other building to make it suitable and comfortable for living or working in

On the other hand, we got

mobiliario
2. m. Set of muebles in a house.

mobiliario urbano

  1. m. Set of elements provided by City Halls in order to service their neighborhoods like, seats, paper bins, marquees, etc.

Notice the parts that I've highlighted. Mobiliario is a set of muebles, but it doesn't mean implicitly a FULL COMPLETE SET. The diference between mobiliario and muebles (plural), if it exists, must be explicitly stated. On the other hand, there is no such thing as "muebles urbanos", that's the reason that I've quoted that part too.

After interchanging opinions with Lambie, I don't agree with one of the examples provided by Pablo. These two sentences are indistinguishable in Spanish:

No me gustan estos muebles
No me gusta este mobiliario


Realmente no hay mucha diferencia para un hispanohablante entre los dos términos. Mobiliario suena un poco más formal y suele emplearse más para referirse a los muebles de una oficina o un negocio, pero también es válido para un hogar particular.

Puedes contrastar las definiciones de ambos términos que aparecen en el DRAE.

mueble
2. m. Cada uno de los enseres movibles que sirven para los usos necesarios o para decorar casas, oficinas y todo género de locales.

mobiliario
2. m. Conjunto de muebles de una casa.

mobiliario urbano

  1. m. Conjunto de instalaciones facilitadas por los ayuntamientos para el servicio del vecindario, como bancos, papeleras, marquesinas, etc.

Presta atención a las partes que he destacado en negrita. Mobiliario es un conjunto de muebles, pero no significa implicitamente TODOS los muebles. La diferencia, si existe, entre mobiliario y muebles en plural debe indicarse explícitamente. Por otro lado no existe el término "muebles urbanos", por eso he querido destacar esa acepción concreta.

Despues de intercambiar opiniones con Lambie, me doy cuenta de que no estoy de acuerdo con uno de los ejemplos aportados por Pablo. Estas dos frases son prácticamente indistinguibles en español:

No me gustan estos muebles
No me gusta este mobiliario

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  • piece of furniture = mueble versus furniture, mobilario – Lambie May 5 at 13:22
  • @Lambie Yes, I've already seen Pablo's answer, thanks. I've compared the terms directly in Spanish: mueble vs mobiliario. That's what OP was asking, she was not asking for translation. Do you have the term "urban furniture" in English? – RubioRic May 5 at 13:26
  • He actually uses it awkwardly. We would not normally say: you don't like any of the pieces of furniture. We would use furniture there. I bought a new piece of furniture for the living room, for example. – Lambie May 5 at 13:31
  • @Lambie I don't agree with either of you. "No me gustan estos muebles" and "No me gusta este mobiliario" are practically indistinguishable. In both cases, in Spanish, you can ask "¿No te gusta ninguno?" – RubioRic May 5 at 13:37

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