Un, Uno & Unos – Uses, Meanings & Differences in Spanish | Tell Me In Spanish (2023)

Although we use them in similar situations, there’s a slight difference between un and uno. Since these words follow different grammatical rules, ‘un’ and ‘uno’ are not interchangeable and, on top of this, each of these words has different uses in Spanish that the other one doesn’t have.

So what’s the difference between ‘un’ and ‘uno’? Un is the direct translation of ‘a’ or ‘an’ and it’s used in front of a masculine, singular noun. Uno can work as a pronoun and it replaces a masculine, singular noun. As a result, it’s translated as ‘one’. This also applies with ‘una’ and feminine nouns.

As you may imagine, uno and un may work together in a sentence: ‘un’ will be introducing the singular and masculine noun that you’re talking about and, if needed, ‘uno’ will be used to replace it. So even though these words are similar, they are not interchangeable. In the following sections, we’ll provide you some examples on how to use these words properly.Here is a quick overview of the topics we’ll cover:

  • Differences Between ‘Un’ and ‘Uno’
  • Uses of ‘Un’, ‘Uno’ and ‘Una’
    • Intensifying a quality
    • Talking about generalizations
    • As a synonym of ‘one of’
  • Uses of ‘Unas’ and ‘Unos’
    • Talking about indefinite things
    • Expressing approximations
    • Intensifying a person’s behavior
  • Key Points
  • Related Questions
– It comes before a singular, masculine noun
– It means ‘a’ or ‘an’.
– It’s a pronoun: replaces a singular, masculine noun.
– In this context, it’s translated as ‘one’.
Quiero un libro de español
I want a Spanish book

¿Tienes un amigo que hable español?
Do you have a friend that speaks Spanish?

Yo también quiero uno.
I want one too.

No, pero Laura tiene uno.
No, but Laura has one.

What’s the difference between ‘un’ and ‘uno’ in Spanish?

As mentioned above, un is the direct translation of ‘a’ and ‘an’. Just as ‘a’ and ‘an’, un is used to talk about indefinite things (non-specific). Here are some examples:

Un + [singular masculine noun]

Quiero comprar un boleto de avión a Madrid
I want to buy a plane ticket to Madrid

Un niño me dijo que el museo está cerrado
A kid told me that the museum is closed

No sé estoy segura, pero creo que hay un animal en tu mochila
I’m not sure but I think there’s an animal in your backpack

When the context is clear enough we can replace the noun with a pronoun in order to make our sentence shorter. Uno is the pronoun that we use to replace ‘un + singular masculine nouns’

¿Necesitas un lápiz? Creo que yo tengo uno.
Do you need a pencil? I think I have one

¿Quiere un boleto a Madrid? Tengo uno en primera class
Do you want a ticket to Madrid? I have one in first class

Something that you need to keep in mind is that when dealing with singular feminine nouns these words are going to change. As a result, you will need to use una before the noun. This word also means ‘a’ or ‘an’. However, una is also used as a pronoun and in this case means one.

Un, Uno & Unos – Uses, Meanings & Differences in Spanish | Tell Me In Spanish (1)

¿Quieres una pizza? Yo quiero una hawaina
Do you want a pizza? I want a Hawaiian

Remember that the purpose of using ‘uno’ and ‘una’ as pronouns is to avoid being repetitive and to speed up our conversations. Additionally, un and uno also have other meanings that we will discuss in the following sections.

(Video) More Than One One? Un, Uno, Una, Unos & Unas in Spanish.

Additional Uses of Un, Uno and Una in Spanish

As established before, un and uno as well as their feminine form ‘una’ are used to talk about indefinite things. However, these words are also used in other situations by Spanish speakers. Although it’s possible that you won’t learn these uses in a grammar class, you should be aware that they are very common and applying them correctly will help you improve your conversations.

Un and Una: describing or intensifying a behaviour or personality

Even though it’s very common in Spanish conversations, many new speakers don’t know that ‘un’ and ‘una’ can be used to describe someone’s personality or behavior. As you may see in the following examples, some of these phrases are so popular that they have become idiomatic expressions.

Mis amigas son un amor My friends are very sweet

Andrea y Gustavo son un encanto de niños Andrea and Gustavo are very charming kids

As you have noticed, this is the phrase structure that we use in these cases:

[Person] + [verb ser] + un/una + [adjective]

¡Eres una dulzura! You’re so sweet!

Mario es una belleza de persona Mario is such a beautiful person

Notice that in this case uno and una match the gender and plurality of the noun they’re preceding. You can also use this structure to talk about negative qualities. Here is how you do it.

[Person] +[ ser conjugated] + un + poco + adjectivo

Fernando es una arrogante Fernanda is arrogant

Joaquín es un poco tonto, pero es agradable Joaquin is a little dumb, but he’s nice

Un, Uno & Unos – Uses, Meanings & Differences in Spanish | Tell Me In Spanish (2)

Be aware that adding ‘poco’ is optional and we only do it with the purpose of softening the negative quality we’re talking about. These types of phrases are meant to intensify a quality or behavior in a person and we mainly use them in conversations.

Uno and Una: Expressing generalizations

Something that we can do in Spanish with ‘uno’ and ‘una’ is building impersonal expressions to generalize some facts. With this type of phrase, we pay more attention to the action or fact than the person who performed it. In this case, uno and una can be translated as ‘one’ or ‘a person’. Here are some examples:

(Video) Learn Spanish Indefinite Articles "un" "una" "unos" "unas"

Hoy en día, uno necesita trabajar más duro para conseguir sus objetivos
Nowadays, a person needs to work harder to accomplish their objectives

Al tener problemas, uno puede descubrir a sus verdaderos amigos
When having troubles, a person can find their true friends

As mentioned before, these phrases are very common when we rather emphasize the action or information we’re talking about than the person who did it. In informal Spanish, it’s also very common to hear a person applying these sentences to themselves.

Una tiene que encontrar la manera de divertirse
One must find the way to have fun

Uno ya no está para salir de fiesta todos los fines de semana
One cannot be partying every weekend

In this context, the gender of the person saying the expression determines whether you use ‘uno’ or ‘una. Remember that when you’re applying these sentences to yourself, you’re placing emphasis on the action or fact that you’re talking about.

Uno and Una: As a synonym of One of

Uno and una are also used to list nouns, including objects or reasons for doing something. We can also use them to list people. In this context, these words are translated as ‘one of’. Here are some examples that will help you understand this better:

Uno/Una de + los/las + [noun]

Esa es una de las casas que quiero
That’s one of the houses that I want

Emmanuel es uno de los mejores amigos de Paola
Emmanuel is one of Paola’s best friends

Una de las razones por las que quiero ir a México es para practicar mi español
One of the reasons why I want to go to Mexico is to practice my Spanish

Ismel dijo que uno de los motivos por los renunció fue la falta de apoyo de parte de su jefe
Ismael said that one of the reasons he quit was the lack of support from his boss

As you may have noticed in the previous examples, uno and una are always in singular form because we’re talking about or emphasizing just one person, reason or object.

So for instance, Ismael could have many reasons to quit, but the one that I’m mentioning now is the lack of support of your boss.

Un, Uno & Unos – Uses, Meanings & Differences in Spanish | Tell Me In Spanish (3)
(Video) Definite/indefinite articles in Spanish beginner explanation: artículos definidos/indefinidos, el la

How to Use ‘unos’ and ‘unas’ in Spanish

In previous sections, we discussed the different uses and meanings of ‘un’, ‘uno’ and ‘una’ in Spanish. Although their plural forms unos and unas have the same meanings, we also use them in different contexts. Here are some of the different uses of ‘unos’ and ‘unas’ in Spanish:

  1. Talking about indefinite things or people: some, several, a few
  2. Giving numerical approximations – about, around, approximately
  3. Intensifying a person behavior or quality – very or so

1. To talk about indefinite things or people – ‘Some’ or ‘a few’

In some contexts, unos and unas are translated as ‘some’ or ‘a few’ and, just as in English, we use these words to talk about indefinite things or people. To put it another way, ‘unos’ and ‘unas’ are used to refer to objects or people in a non-specific way. Here are some examples to help you understand this.

Unas amigas me invitaron a México
Some friends invited me to Mexico

Hay unos perros afuera de mi casa
There are some dogs out of my house

Karina tiene unos libros de español muy buenos
Karina has some very good Spanish books

Este fin de semana vamos a ver unas películas
This weekend we are going to watch a few movies

2. To give an approximation – ‘About’, ‘Around’ or ‘Approximately’

Another way that we can use unos and unas is to give an approximation of the number of things. Therefore, in this context, ‘unos’ is the direct translation of ‘about’. We use ‘unos’ and ‘unas’ as a synonym of ‘about’ when we don’t know for sure or when we don’t want to say an exact amount.

One thing that you need to keep in mind in this context is that you must match ‘unos’ and ‘unas’ with the object’s gender. Additionally, be aware that in this context, we only use unos and unas. Here are some examples as well as the phrase structure you need to use:

[Verb] + unos/unas + [approximated number] + [noun]

Creemos que faltaron unas doscientas personas
We believe that about two hundred people were missing

Hay unos dos o tres pedazos de pizza en el refrigerador
There are about two or three slices of pizza in the fridge

Tengo unos diez años trabajando en este lugar
I have about 10 years working in this place

Un, Uno & Unos – Uses, Meanings & Differences in Spanish | Tell Me In Spanish (4)

3. To intensify a person’s behavior or quality – ‘very’ and ’so’

Even though it’s very common in Spanish conversations, many new speakers don’t know that ‘unos’ and ‘unas’ can be used to intensify someone’s behaviour or a quality. Be aware that in this context, there’s no direct translation for ‘unos’ and ‘unas’; however, they may be considered synonyms of ‘so’ or ‘very’.

[Person] + [verb ser] + unos/unas + [adjective]

(Video) Choose the correct gender in Spanish: el & la - ALL you need to know about articles in Spanish

Mis amigas son unas tontas
My friends are so silly

Tus primos son unos llorones
Your cousins are so whiny

Paola y Pablo son unos enfadosos
Paola and Pablo are so annoying

In the previous examples the characteristics that are being intensified are negative. This is due to the fact that unas and unos are very commonly used for this. However, when talking about their friends, native speakers don’t use these expressions as a way to criticise, they rather use them with some affection and as a way to have fun.

These structures can also be used to say compliments about people, here is how you do it:

[Person] + [verb ser] + unos/unas + [noun]

Carlos y Martín son unos caballeros Carlos and Martin are gentleman

Tus papás son unos ángeles, dales las gracias de mi parte Your parents are angels, thank them for me

Wrapping Up

When learning Spanish, un and uno can be easily confused since their meanings seem very similar and they’re nearly identical. However, there are some rules and elements that we need to keep in mind in order to decide which word we need to use in a particular situation.

In this article, we learned that:

  • un is the Spanish word for ‘a’ and ‘an’ and we use it before singular masculine nouns.
    • We also discussed that this word is used to talk about non-specific things.
  • And we established that uno is used as a pronoun.
    • In other words, when the context is clear, I can replace a singular masculine noun with uno.

On top of this, we discussed other common meanings and uses of these words. Hopefully, now you’re able to tell the difference between these words and you apply them correctly in your conversations.

What’s the difference between ‘unos’ and ‘algunos’? Both ‘unos’ and ‘algunos’ mean ‘some’ and even though people use them interchangeably, unos is used in context where the object is more specific than with algunos. ‘Uno’ is also used as a synonym of ‘about’.

Hay algunas personas que quieren verte
There are some people that want to see you

Tengo unos amigos que hablan español
I have some friends that speak Spanish

Nos vamos en unos cinco minutes
We’re leaving in about five minutes

(Video) Spanish Linking Words: How To Use Them / PART 1 (Además, Aunque, Sin embargo, etc.)

Although they look very similar, these words have different meanings and particular uses. As a result, you probably want to learn when and how to use them at some point. In this article, you’ll find more information about the difference between unos and algunos.


What is the difference between UN and UNOS in Spanish? ›

Un is 'a,' masculine. Una is 'a,' feminine. Unos means 'some' or 'a few, ' masculine. Unas means 'some' or 'a few, ' feminine.

What does UNO's mean in Spanish? ›

United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) is the mission-driven non-profit serving as the nation's transplant system under contract with the federal government.

Is the word Uno Spanish? ›

Uno (/ˈuːnoʊ/; from Spanish and Italian for 'one'; stylized as UNO) is an American shedding-type card game that is played with a specially printed deck.

How do you know if a word is masculine or feminine in Spanish? ›

Masculine nouns are used with articles like el or un and have adjectives that end in -o, while female nouns use the articles la or una and have adjectives that end in -a. To know if a noun is masculine or feminine, you should look to see what letter(s) the word ends with.

What is UNOS and how does it work? ›

UNOS is the private, non-profit organization that serves as the nation's organ transplant system—the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN)—under contract with the federal government.

What is the purpose of UNOS? ›

The United Network for Organ Sharing is for: Patients waiting for transplants. Transplant recipients. Nurses, surgeons, physicians and technicians who specialize in donation and transplantation (Every transplant hospital in the U.S. is a member of UNOS)

What is the plural of UNOS in Spanish? ›

Note that to express some / a few + [plural noun] in Spanish, you use either unos or unas, depending on the gender of the noun it refers to: Unos for masculine plural nouns. Unas for feminine plural nouns.

Is UNOS feminine or masculine? ›


What is un UNO una? ›

Language: Indefinite article un/uno/una/un'

The Italian equivalent of English 'a' or 'an' (the indefinite article) is either un, uno, una or un'. The form depends on whether the noun it relates to is masculine or feminine and whether the noun starts with a vowel (a, e, i, o, u) or a consonant.

How does UNO work in Spanish? ›

To sum up, “Uno” means One, but whenever there's a word that goes after “Uno” in a sentence, it will change to “Un”, and it'll be still referring to number one. “Una” is the feminine for “Uno” and, remember that “Un” might work as an article before a noun.

Why is it el agua? ›

Is agua a feminine or masculine word? The answer is very easy. In front of the feminine names that begin with tonic vowel (the one with the accent) the article is used: El agua to avoid cacophony (sound ugly;)).

How do you memorize masculine and feminine in Spanish? ›

Most words that end in -ma like clima, problema, idioma, sistema, drama, etc. are masculine. Memorize genders for word endings. Nouns that end in -sión, -ción, -dad, -tad, and -tud are normally feminine.

What Spanish nouns end in E? ›

Some common masculine nouns that end in "e" are el coche, el estante, el perfume, el pie, el maquillaje, el restaurante. And some common feminine nouns that end in "e" are la carne, la calle, la clase, la frase, la leche, la noche, and la sangre.

Is UNOS only for America? ›

The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) is a non-profit, scientific and educational organization that administers the only Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) in the United States, established (42 U.S.C. § 274) by the U.S. Congress in 1984 by Gene A.

How do you know if you're an organ match? ›

There are actually three tests that are done to evaluate donors. They are blood type, crossmatch, and HLA testing. This blood test is the first step in the process of living donation and determines if you are compatible or a “match” to your recipient.

What organs can be donated after death? ›

For patients and families awaiting transplant, organ and tissue donation can mean the difference between life and death. One donor can donate and save up to eight lives by donating organs after death. The organs that can be donated include the heart, intestines, kidneys, liver, lungs and the pancreas.

What does it mean to harvest your organs? ›

Organ procurement (also called organ harvesting) is a surgical procedure that removes organs or tissues for reuse, typically for organ transplantation.

Why was UNOS established? ›

United Network for Organ Sharing was founded to help the community of donation and transplant professionals make the best possible use of organs to save lives. We have played a vital role in the evolution of transplantation in the U.S. for more than 35 years.

How many UNOS regions are there? ›

UNOS divides the United States into 11 geographic regions.

How do you use unos in Spanish in a sentence? ›

Using 'Unos' and 'Unas' to Mean 'Some,' 'A Few,' or 'About'
  1. Compré unas manzanas. I bought a few apples.
  2. Unos alumnos salieron. Some students left.
  3. Tengo unos casetes nuevos. I have some new cassettes.
  4. La película duró unos noventa minutos. ...
  5. Tomamos unos refrescos. ...
  6. Necesité unas horas para leer el libro.
Jan 30, 2019

What are the 3 plural rules in Spanish? ›

Making Spanish Nouns Plural
  • Rule #1: If a noun ends in a vowel, add “s”
  • Rule #2: If a noun ends in a consonant, add “es”
  • Rule #3: If a noun ends in “z”, change the “z” to “c” and add “es”

Is unos a word? ›

In some contexts, unos and unas are translated as 'some' or 'a few' and, just as in English, we use these words to talk about indefinite things or people. To put it another way, 'unos' and 'unas' are used to refer to objects or people in a non-specific way.

Is bag in Spanish feminine? ›

Answer and Explanation: 'Bag' in Spanish is la bolsa. La is simply the definite article (meaning 'the') that goes with bolsa because bolsa is feminine.

What is Uno plural? ›

uno (plural unos, feminine una, feminine plural unas)

What does indefinite articles in Spanish mean? ›

An indefinite article, called an artículo indefinido in Spanish, makes a noun refer to a nonspecific item or items of its class. In English, there are only two indefinite articles, "a" and "an." In Spanish, there are four indefinite articles, un, una, unos, and unas.

How do you use los and las in Spanish? ›

In the plural, el becomes los and la becomes las. The plural can usually be recognized by the noun ending s as in las casas.

What are the four ways to say the in Spanish? ›

In English, there is only one definite article: the. In Spanish, you have to choose between four definite articles: el, la, los and las.

What does 4x4 mean in Spanish? ›

automotive. todoterreno {m} vehicle (also: off-road vehicle, 4 x 4)

Is it el leche or la leche? ›

- La leche (The milk)

What is the meaning of agua Dulce? ›

Agua Dulce is Spanish for freshwater, literally meaning sweet water.

Why do Mexicans yell Aguas? ›

Mexican slang is creative and, for some, too coarse for comfort. So when Mexicans shout “aguas!” you can guarantee they are not talking about water. Literally, this announcement would translate to “waters,” but in this case “aguas” is being used to tell one to be careful or watch out. Someone is issuing a warning!

What are the 3 genders in Spanish? ›

Gender in Spanish language

There were three genres in Latin: masculine, feminine and neuter. Romance lost the neutral gender, except for the pronouns (lo, esto, eso, esto) and the articles (lo). That's why all Spanish nouns are either masculine or feminine.

What Spanish words have no gender? ›

Here are the most common words violating the a/o rule, although there are dozens of others:
  • el aroma: aroma.
  • el Canadá: Canada.
  • el clima: climate.
  • el cólera: cholera (but la cólera, anger)
  • el cometa: comet (but la cometa, kite)
  • el cura: male priest (but la cura, cure or female priest)
  • el día: day.
  • el diagrama: diagram.
Jan 30, 2020

What ending is Vosotros? ›

– vosotros/ vosotras: if the verb ends in -er, the ending will be –éis, and if the verb ends in –ir, the ending will be –ís (vosotros/as coméis vs vosotros/as escribís).

What is a 5 letter word that ends in es? ›

zaxes 21jukes 19zymes 19fuzes 18jakes 18jives 18jokes 18jubes 18jupes 18cozes 17fazes 17fezes 17japes 17jefes 17jibes 17mazes 17mezes 17mzees 17pyxes 17wizes 17.

What ends with El? ›

  • parallel.
  • sentinel.
  • squirrel.
  • carousel.
  • shrapnel.
  • mackerel.
  • minstrel.
  • flywheel.

How do you use UNOS? ›

Note that to express some / a few + [plural noun] in Spanish, you use either unos or unas, depending on the gender of the noun it refers to: Unos for masculine plural nouns. Unas for feminine plural nouns.

How do you use UNOS in Spanish in a sentence? ›

Using 'Unos' and 'Unas' to Mean 'Some,' 'A Few,' or 'About'
  1. Compré unas manzanas. I bought a few apples.
  2. Unos alumnos salieron. Some students left.
  3. Tengo unos casetes nuevos. I have some new cassettes.
  4. La película duró unos noventa minutos. ...
  5. Tomamos unos refrescos. ...
  6. Necesité unas horas para leer el libro.
Jan 30, 2019

Is números masculine or feminine in Spanish? ›

One way to remember this is that letra is feminine while número is masculine.

What are the two ways to say some in Spanish? ›

If you'd like to say the word “some” in Spanish, you'd generally use either the pronoun “algunos” (masculine) or “algunas” (feminine).

What are the 4 Spanish indefinite articles? ›

In Spanish, you have to choose between four indefinite articles: un, una, unos and unas, where in English you would use a or an to refer to something unspecific.

How do you make un and una plural in Spanish? ›

What are Indefinite Articles?
  1. un – masculine, singular.
  2. unos – masculine, plural.
  3. una – feminine, singular.
  4. unas – feminine, plural.
Feb 19, 2021

How do you know if a noun is singular or plural? ›

The easiest way to tell if a noun is a singular noun or a plural noun is to look at how much of something it is referring to. If it is only referring to one person or thing, it is a singular noun. If it is referring to more than one person or thing, it is a plural noun.


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