'Algunos' vs. 'Unos'

Words for 'Some' Usually Interchangeable

Tenemos unos mil quinientos discos de música clásica
Amy T. Zielinski / Getty Images

When used to mean "some," meaning an indefinite number, algunos and unos are usually interchangeable — it doesn't matter which one you use. However, there can be some subtle differences between them. Here is a guide to know where the choice of word might make a difference:


Unos, but not algunos, can be used when making approximations (approximations can be expressed in other ways as well): Tenemos unos mil quinientos discos de música clásica.

We have some 1,500 classical music discs.

With de

The phrase "algunos de" is far more common than "unos de" to mean "some of":

  • Estos son algunos de los monumentos más extravagantes del país. These are some of the most outlandish monuments in the country.
  • La compañía planea pasar algunas de sus tecnologías a código abierto. The company is planning to put some of its technologies into open source.
  • Algunos de mis mejores amigos son españoles. Some of my best friends are Spaniards.

In contrast with otros

If a sentence is contrasting some with others (otros), either algunos or unos can be used to mean "some":

  • ¿Por qué unas personas pueden bailar y otras no? ¿Por qué algunas personas pueden bailar y otras no? Why can some people dance and others can't?
  • Las emociones son como el mar, unas veces airado, otras veces tranquilo. Las emociones son como el mar, algunas veces airado, otras veces tranquilo. Emotions are like the sea, sometimes angry, sometimes peaceful.
  • Algunos vieron la película, otros no. Unos vieron la película, otros no. Some saw the movie, others didn't.

In contrast with "none"

If the emphasis is on some as opposed to none, algunos is more commonly used. The emphasis in such a case isn't so much on number as on existence:

  • Algunos soldados pueden dormir con cualquier ruido de fondo. Some soldiers can sleep through any kind of background noise.
  • Sé que algunos me comprenden. I know that some people understand me.
  • Algunos creen que son más importantes que Dios. Some believe they are more important than God.

Sources: As with most lessons on this site, sample sentences are adapted from a variety of sources written by native Spanish speakers. Among the sources consulted for this lesson were: Espacio Latino, Fayerwayer, Foro de Blogger, NIH.gov, Planetanuncios, Tadforo, Yahoo México.

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Erichsen, Gerald. "'Algunos' vs. 'Unos'." ThoughtCo, Apr. 28, 2017, thoughtco.com/algunos-vs-unos-3079685. Erichsen, Gerald. (2017, April 28). 'Algunos' vs. 'Unos'. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/algunos-vs-unos-3079685 Erichsen, Gerald. "'Algunos' vs. 'Unos'." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/algunos-vs-unos-3079685 (accessed March 22, 2018).