Daños doesn’t equal damages and the difference between damage and damages

Most of the time, daños means “damage”, in singular. What, then, is “damages” in Spanish? Usually something like indemnizaciones por daños y perjuicios, literally, “compensation for loss and damage”, which is what “damages” means in English. So:

  • daño/s = damage
  • indemnizaciones por daños y perjuicios = “damages” or “compensation for loss and damage” but not “compensation for loss and damages

Definition of damage and damages

Note that the adjective of “damages” can be singular or plural (number 3).

  1. damages, n. pl. Money claimed by, or ordered to be paid to, a person as compensation for loss or injury “the plaintiff seeks $8,000 in damages from the defendant”. — damage,adj.
  2. damage, n. Loss or injury to person or property “actionable damage resulting from negligence”.
  3. damage, adj. Of or relating to monetary compensation for loss or injury to a person or property “a damage claim”, “a damage award”. — Also termed damages “a damages claim”.

Source: Black’s Law Dictionary, 8th edition (West Group, 2004), Bryan A. Garner (ed.)

Examples in English

For some useful examples on the difference between “damage” and “damages”, see this page.

Written by Rob Lunn

Rob Lunn is a freelance legal translator based in Spain. He translates from Spanish and Catalan into English.

2 comments to “Daños doesn’t equal damages and the difference between damage and damages”
    • Yes, you have been the busy commenter. Thank you!

      I think comes down to trying to use terms correctly. Easy in this case because all the sources/experts I could find say the same thing, i.e., you should make a distinction between “damage” and “damages”.

      I understand that people don’t always make this distinction in practice. But hey, some people don’t the diferentiate between “you’re” and “your”. Doesn’t mean we should start not making a distinction. Then again, I guess you can pluralise (harm) damage if the context leaves no doubt.

      In any case, when it comes to what we write, I think we can better serve our clients by being precise and making this distinction in our translations.

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