Masculine/feminine?

Masculine/feminine?

Soo masculine, isn’t he (Arnold Schwarzenegger, see photo). Just like how Arny’s bulging muscles indicates his masculinity,  Spanish nouns have a few “tells” as-well, which can help us remember what words are masculine (el/los) or feminine (la/los).

Here’s a “cheat-sheet” with five points to help us navigate gender. 

 

1. Feminine “tells”

Spanish nouns with these endings (a, d, ie, ión, umbre and z) tend to be feminine.

(click tabs for more examples and exceptions)

Examples: histor’a cosa palabra mesa esquina li’nea Exceptions:  el día words ending in; -ma -pa -ta.

Note: Nouns ending in “e” are a challenge, we just have to memorise them: la madre, la parte, la noche, la clase, la muerte, la fuente.

Examples:  ciudad universidad juventud merced pared salud Exception:  el césped
Examples: serie especie superficie
Examples: lección regi—ón canci—ón estaci—ón pasi—ón revisi—ón
Examples: costumbre certidumbre cumbre legumbre muchedumbre vislumbre
Examples: rigidez actriz luz nuez paz voz. Exceptions: el arroz el lápiz el maíz el pez

Nouns ending in “e” are a challenge, we just have to memorise them: la madre, la parte, la noche, la clase, la muerte, la fuente.

 

2. Masculine “tells”

Spanish nouns with these endings (o, l, n, r, s) tend to be masculine.

 
Examplesprincipio tiempo libro  Exceptionsla mano la radio short forms of feminine words: la foto la moto
 
Examples:  animal árbol Exception: la cárcel la piel la miel 
 
Examples: fin corazón 
 
Examples: ser mar
 
Examples: lunes martes
Examples: sistema poema clima 
  

Nouns ending in “e” that we just have to memorise include el padre, el monte, el pie, el puente, el borde, el parque.

 

3. Single women dressed as men

Sometimes feminine spanish nouns (not adjectives) in the singular form that begin with a stressed “a”/”ha” sound, are proceeded by these singular masculine articles: el, un, algún and ningún

Examples of this include:

  • El agua (water) está fría,   BUT  Las aguas están frías
  • El aula (classroom) está cerrada    BUT Estas aulas están cerradas
  • hacha (ax)
  • asa (handle)
  • arma (weapon)
  • hada (fairy)
  • águila (eagle)

Note, only the four articles mentioned (el, un, algún and ningún) become masculine form in singular form, all other modifiers stay feminine.

  • El agua (water) está fría
    When plural, there is no masculine article:  Las aguas están frías
  • El aula (classroom) está cerrada
    When plural, there is no masculine article: Estas aulas están cerradas

 

4. Changes when talking about males or females

Noun ending

The end of a noun will generally change when we are talking about a male or a female (person or animal). A word will end in “o” to reflect a man, “a” to reflect a women, and in the instances when a noun normally ends in “r”, an “a” will be added to the end when it’s referring to a female.

  • Mi sobrino (my brother) my sobrina (my sister), el doctor (the male doctor), la doctora (the female doctor).

However,  there are words that become completely different in masculine/feminine form, much like in english, including

  • el caballo/la yegua (the horse/the mare)
  • el toro/la vaca (the bull/cow)
  • el yerno/la nuera (the son/daughter in-law)
  • el gallo/la gallina (the rooster/chicken)

Masculine/feminine modifiers

Some nouns stay the same but employ a modifier which specifying gender

  • el guía simpático / la guía simpática
  • el joven trabajador / la joven trabajadora

 

5. Gender of acronyms

Use the gender of the first word of an acronym.

  • ODG – La organización de la genialidad = La ODG

 

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