Bare nouns in Spanish


  • Sonia Montero Gálvez



Bare nouns, mass/count noun, singular/plural, predicative value, referential value, quantification’s value, nominal expression without article, Ø article, contrastive approach


This article is focused on the semantic values of bare nouns in Spanish and it’s intended to present a proposal that can be especially helpful for the didactic of nominal expressions in the elementary levels of SSL (Spanish as a Second Language). The main idea is that not all bare nouns work in the same way, and that we can make a basic distinction between those that are a full nominal expression profiling quantified entities (usually, singular mass nouns and plurals), and those others that are confined to be part of an adjectival, adverbial or verbal expression (usually, singular count nouns). The first group can be identified through its referential and quantification’s values, whereas the second group is characterized by its lack of those values. In order to distinguish these two kinds of expressions, we can consider the participation of the ‘Ø article’ in the first group, which should be understood as the guarantee of reference and quantification that provides the sintactic and situational context.

This proposal is based on the research work being developed in a doctoral thesis. It builds on the input provided by cognitive grammar, and it’s supported by a contrastive approach that takes into account the main differences between the use of bare nouns in Spanish and its use in other languages. The presented approach not only departs from the view offered by the consulted sources in Spanish linguistics, but also from the own view presented in an earlier published work[1].


[1]      Montero, S. (2011): «El artículo y otros fantasmas del nombre». RedELE, nº 21 (febrero, 2011).



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1. 12. 2014




How to Cite

Montero Gálvez, S. (2014). Bare nouns in Spanish. Verba Hispanica, 22(1), 37-58.