In English, some nouns have regular plural forms ending in -s or -es and fewer are irregular. Fish in the plural is still fish while child becomes children.

In Spanish, nearly all nouns are regular, adding -s or -es. The rule is even simpler than in English (-es is for words that end in consonants and accented vowels other than é, s for all others). Also, words that end in z change the z to c in the plural to retain a pleasing sound in all regional accents.

There are some words borrowed from other languages that have irregular plurals. In Mexico, the weekly markets are called tianguis (singular: tianguis plural: tianguis) after the Nahuatl word for the same weekly markets (often in the exact same places). Tianguis has been a common Spanish word since around A.D. 1520 but it still seems like a piece of traditional pre-hispanic Mexico.

Are there any native or fully absorbed Spanish nouns with irregular plurals?


7 Answers 7


You can find here the complete reference guide for plurals in Spanish by RAE. In that document you can read that there are some differences from the general rules, which aren't as simple as you described but are quite closed.

For example some words coming from other languages can have the same word for singular as for plural:

(from Latin) El currículum vitae  --> Los currículum vitae
(from French) El crómlech --> Los crómlech

Also, the stressed syllable doesn't change in plurals, but there are 3 exceptions that have different stressed syllable in singular than in plural:

  1. Régimen (-gi-men) -->Regímenes (Re--me-nes)
  2. Espécimen (Es--ci-men) -->Especímenes(Es-pe--me-nes)
  3. Carácter (Ca-rác-ter) -->Caracteres(Ca-rac-te-res)
  • Excellent answer. I almost voted this question to be closed as a list question. This answer, I believe, summarizes things well. +1
    – Richard
    Commented Nov 22, 2011 at 13:34
  • 1
    Specially in the north of Mexico they add 's' even if it isn't necessary. For example the use of "gentes" instead of just gente.
    – razpeitia
    Commented Nov 23, 2011 at 4:16
  • Family names are irregular too, hm? I was surprised on my first reading of Harry Potter to find "los Dursley".
    – Tony
    Commented May 17, 2014 at 20:18
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    @rezpeitia There are plenty of reasons to pluralize gente, though and it gets used a lot across the Spanish speaking world: books.google.com/ngrams/… You would never say "las gente" Commented Nov 1, 2015 at 19:38

There is one entire class of nouns in Spanish which are all regular plurals of the type similar to English "sheep" and "fish" except instead of the singular also being the plural, the plural is also the singular.

There is a class of Spanish compound nouns formed by joining a verb with a plural noun. They are all masculine and always the same form is used for both singular and plural despite all ending in -s or -es.

In fact they are such a particular favourite of mine that I have been collecting them for years and I created a special place in Wiktionary to gather them into a category.

It ranges from really common ones like cumpleaños to ones I've never heard before like tumbaburros.

(There are probably other regular plurals, too, but I can't think of any just yet.)

  • Nice list! You can add "mataburros" and "lustrabotas" (although it's the same as "limpiabotas") to it. Commented Nov 22, 2011 at 13:54
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    Indeed, these names follow the rule of the point "f" in the RAE link I provided, which is: All the words ending in S or X, whose stressed syllable isn't the last one of the word, have the same word for both singular and plural. e.g. Crisis, Tórax...
    – Javi
    Commented Nov 22, 2011 at 14:00
  • Thanks @GonzaloMedina I will. Also it's a wiki so anybody can add to it at any time, you don't even have to log in. Commented Nov 22, 2011 at 14:02
  • @Javi: Ah I had never realized that was a reason behind words of this kind. Very interesting! Commented Nov 22, 2011 at 14:03
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    Also, not all of them are masculine. For example "buscavidas" and "rompecorazones" are both f. and m. as Commented Nov 23, 2011 at 4:10

Plurals ain't easier in spanish. Adding to Javi's answer there are other caveats to look for, like the ones ended in z:

lápiz --> lápices
pez --> peces

here the z get's changed into c then add -es. Some others have no plurals form since the word is already plural, ex. gente has no gentes, since gente is another plural of persona appart personas.

There is also the thing about imported words into spanish that pretty much don't have a rule to follow, and they change according to the pronunciation and/or previous rules.

  • 3
    The bit about z->ces is actually a general rule (not specific to plurals), "z" always changes to "c" before "e" and "i". Eg: "caza" -> "cacería". "paz" -> "pacífico".
    – leonbloy
    Commented Aug 21, 2013 at 18:02
  • 1
    BTW, "gentes" is not very usual, but it exists. gramatikus.wordpress.com/2011/03/30/%C2%BFgente-o-gentes
    – leonbloy
    Commented Aug 21, 2013 at 18:04
  • But nobody mentioned that my example is particular to plurals, just something to take into account when using them. And in my country if you use gentes you are labeled as overcorrected and with a lack of knowledge of the spanish (I'm just saying from personal experience, not representing all the spanish speakers).
    – Braiam
    Commented Aug 21, 2013 at 18:09

Many borrrowed words ending in an "l" or "r" form their plural by adding just "s". Also, compound nouns containing a plural noun are invariably singular or plural.


I think that the previous answers are very good. Just for the sake of completion, I would like to add that chemical elements usually DO NOT have a plural, e.g. "calcio", "flúor", ... are always in singular.


The noun 'bistec' (derived from, and meaning the same as, English 'beefsteak') has a plural that LOOKS regular in orthography: 'bisteces'. However, the pronunciation has an odd change. The singular ends in the /k/ sound which changes to the /s/ sound (or /th/ sound in Spain) in the plural.

  • I'm surprised that Spanish doesn't use the orthographic change bistec -> bisteques.
    – pr1268
    Commented Jan 29, 2017 at 13:04
  • Actually, the plural of "bistec" is "bistecs".
    – Arunabh
    Commented Jul 9, 2020 at 17:38

Among the languages I know, Spanish has the easiest plurals ever! Just a bunch of exceptions.... All the other Romance languages (Italian, French, Portuguese, Catalan) have more irregularities as far as plurals are concerned. Not to mention Rumanian with its many irregular and sometimes unpredictable plurals! I've always thought Spanish is similar to artificial languages, such as Esperanto in this regard.... I would hardly say that Spanish has irregular plurals unlike English, whose irregularities are often inconsistent. I'd like to add that Spanish is probably the most straightforward language in the Romance group, even minor Iberian languages seem slightly harder to me....

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