Nouns that are plural in English but singular in Spanish, and vice versa

Singular where plural in English (collective nouns)

La familia de María está contenta.
María's family are happy.

La policía va a arrestar al ladrón.
The police are going to arrest the thief.

El personal del hotel trabajó horas extra.
The hotel staff worked extra hours.

La gente es muy simpática en este pueblo.
People are very friendly in this town.

In English, what we call collective nouns (e.g. family, team, police, company ...) can be followed by either a singular or plural verb conjugation, depending on whether we consider the group as a single unit (singular), or as the individuals forming the group (plural).

However, these collective nouns are always followed by singular in Spanish. 

Plural where singular in English

Voy a ir de vacaciones a Cancún en agosto.
I am going on holiday to Cancún in August.

Note that word ''holiday'' (vacaciones) is always used in plural in Spanish. The adjectives or verbs following it are also in plural form.

This would be incorrect:

"Mis vacaciones fue corta."

This would be correct:

"Mis vacaciones fueron cortas."

Learn more about these related Spanish grammar topics

Examples and resources

La familia de María está contenta.
María's family are happy.


Voy a ir de vacaciones a Cancún en agosto.
I am going on holiday to Cancún in August.


La gente es muy simpática en este pueblo.
People are very friendly in this town.


El personal del hotel trabajó horas extra.
The hotel staff worked extra hours.


La policía va a arrestar al ladrón.
The police are going to arrest the thief.


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