google4c74c2460181c33f.html The gender of nouns in Spanish

The gender of nouns in Spanish

By: Josefina Martinen.

In Spanish, nouns have a gender and a number. That means they are feminine or masculine (gender) and singular or plural (number). 


Below you will find some gender formation rules for nouns to help you recognize, categorize and produce gender accurately when speaking Spanish.


Male Nouns

In general, masculine nouns end in:


- o: el amigo - friend

      el perro - the dog

      el libro - the book

      el viento - the wind, 


- or: el calor - the heat

       el amor - the love

       el dolor - the pain

       el color - the color 


(there are exceptions as la flor - the flower).


- aje or - an: el viaje - trip.

                    el coraje - courage.

                    el capitán - the captain


The names of the colors are masculine:


el verde - green.

el azul - blue.

el rojo - red.

el amarillo - yellow.

el naranja - orange, etc.


The names of rivers, seas, oceans, and mountains are also masculine:


El Atlántico - The Atlantic.

El Sena - The Sena.

El Támesis - The Thames.

Los Andes - The Andes.

El Everest - The Everest, etc…


Be Aware! Some masculine nouns may end in: 


- a: el cura - the priest

      el mapa - the map

      el día - the day, etc…


- ma: el problema - the problem.

         el sistema - the system.

         el tema - the topic, etc. 


(these are words derived from the Greek)


Feminine Nouns

In general, feminine nouns end in:


- a: la casa - the house.

      la plaza - the square.

      la niña - girl.

     la mesa - the table.

     la ventana - the window.

     la camisa - the T-shirt, etc…


- dad, - tad y - ed: la verdad - the true.

                              la mitad - the middle.

       la libertad - freedom.

       la pared - the wall; etc…  


- ción, -sión, -zón, -dez o -iz: una porción - a portion.

la pasión - the passion.

la razón - the reason

la perdiz - partridge


(there are exceptions like el corazón - the heart)


- tis (diseases’ names): la artritis - arthritis

la otitis - otitis, etc…


Many nouns ending in -e: la torre - the tower.

la clase - the class.

la calle - the steet, etc…


The names of the letters: la A , la B, la C, etc…. 


Be Aware! Some feminine nouns may end in - o


La soprano - the soprano.

la radio - the radio.

la mano - the hand, etc…


Abbreviations in o of words ending with a:


la foto(grafía) - the photography.

la moto(cicleta) - the motorcycle.


Invariable nouns

Some nouns have the same ending for female and male names. For example:


Names ending in -ista: el/la tenista - the tenist.

el/la artista - the artisr.

el/la socialista - the socialist, etc…


Names ending in -ante: el/la amante - the lover.

el/la cantante - the singer.

el/la estudiante - the student, etc…


Other names as: el/la atleta - the athlete.

el/la policía - the police.

el/la joven - the young man/woman.

el/la modelo - the model.

el/la testigo - the witness, etc…


Rules to create feminine nouns


1. Nouns with the regular feminine:

  • Nouns ending in o, is replaced by a: el amigo / la amiga - the friend; el perro / la perra - the dog; el sobrino / la sobrina - the nephew / the niece; el abogado / la abogada - the lawyer, etc…

  • Nouns ending in a consonant is added an a : el juez / la jueza - the judge; el señor / la señora - the man / the woman; el doctor / la doctora - the doctor, etc…


2. Nouns with the irregular feminine:

  • Nouns ending in -dor o -tor: el emperador / la emperatriz - the emperor / the empress; el actor / la actriz - the actor / the actress, etc…

  • Other names form the feminine by adding certain suffixes such as -esa, -isa, -na or -ina: el alcalde / la alcaldesa - the mayor; el príncipe/ la princesa - the prince / the princess; el poeta / la poetisa - the poet; el rey/ la reina - the king / the queen; el héroe/ la heroína - the hero; el gallo / la gallina - the rooster / the hen, etc…

  • In some cases, the words that designate the masculine and feminine are completely different: el hombre / la mujer - the man / the woman; el padrino / la madrina - the godfather / the godmother; el buey / la vaca - the ox / the cow; el caballo / la yegua - the horse / the mare, etc… 


As you learn Spanish familiarize yourself with these rules. Listen to the use of genders while watching your favorite series or movies and take notes when reading a book or newspaper. You will quickly catch on to the patterns of the language this way.

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