Easy Learning Spanish

Gender - Easy Learning Grammar Spanish

1   Nouns referring to people

  • Most nouns referring to men and boys are masculine.
el hombrethe man
el reythe king
  • Most nouns referring to women and girls are feminine.
la mujerthe woman
la reinathe queen
  • When the same word is used to refer to either men/boys or women/girls, its gender usually changes depending on the sex of the person it refers to.
el estudiantethe (male) student
la estudiantethe (female) student
el belgathe Belgian (man)
la belgathe Belgian (woman)
Grammar Extra!Some words for people have only one possible gender, whether they refer to a male or a female.
la personathe (male or female) person
la víctimathe (male or female) victim
  • In English, we can sometimes make a word masculine or feminine by changing the ending, for example, Englishman and Englishwoman or prince and princess. In Spanish, very often the ending of a noun changes depending on whether it refers to a man or a woman.
el camarerothe waiter
la camarerathe waitress
el empleadothe employee (male)
la empleadathe employee (female)
el inglésthe Englishman
la inglesathe Englishwoman
TipNote that a noun ending in -o is usually masculine, and a noun ending in -a is usually feminine.
  • For more information on Masculine and feminine forms of words, see Nouns.

2   Nouns referring to animals

  • In English we can choose between words like bull or cow, depending on the sex of the animal. In Spanish too there are sometimes separate words for male and female animals.
el torothe bull
la vacathe cow
  • Sometimes, the same word with different endings is used for male and female animals.
el perrothe (male) dog
la perrathe (female) dog, bitch
el gatothe (male) cat
la gatathe (female) cat
TipWhen you do not know or care what sex the animal is, you can usually use the masculine form as a general word.
  • Words for other animals don’t change according to the sex of the animal. Just learn the Spanish word with its gender, which is always the same.
el sapothe toad
el hámsterthe hamster
la cobayathe guinea pig
la tortugathe tortoise

3   Nouns referring to things

  • In English, we call all things – for example, table, car, book, apple –it’. In Spanish, however, things are either masculine or feminine. As things don’t divide into sexes the way humans and animals do, there are no physical clues to help you with their gender in Spanish. Try to learn the gender as you learn the word.
  • There are lots of rules to help you. Certain endings are usually found on masculine nouns, while other endings are usually found on feminine nouns.
  • The following ending is usually found on masculine nouns.
Masculine endingExamples
-oel libro the book
el periódico the newspaper
BUT:
la mano the hand
la foto the photo
la moto the motorbike
la radio the radio (although in parts of Latin America, it is el radio)
  • The following types of word are also masculine.
  • names of the days of the week and the months of the year
Te veré el lunes.I’ll see you on Monday.
  • the names of languages
el inglésEnglish
el españolSpanish
Estudio el español.I’m studying Spanish.
  • the names of rivers, mountains and seas
el Ebrothe Ebro
el EverestEverest
el ­Atlánticothe Atlantic
  • The following endings are usually found on feminine nouns.
Feminine endingExamples
-ala casa the house
la cara the face
BUT:
el día the day
el mapa the map
el planeta the planet
el tranvía the tram
and many words ending in -ma (el problema the problem, el programa the programme, el sistema the system, el clima the climate)
-ción
-sión
la lección the lesson
la estación the station
la expresión the expression
-dad
-tad
-tud
la ciudad the city
la libertad freedom
la multitud the crowd
Grammar Extra!Some words have different meanings depending on whether they are masculine or feminine.
MasculineMeaningFeminineMeaning
el capitalthe capital (meaning money)la capitalthe capital (meaning city)
el cometathe cometla cometathe kite
el curathe priestla curathe cure
el guíathe guide (man)la guíathe guidebook; the guide (woman)
 
Invirtieron mucho capital.They invested a lot of capital.
Viven en la capital.They live in the capital.

4   Masculine and feminine forms of words

  • Like English, Spanish sometimes has very different words for males and females.
el hombrethe man
la mujerthe woman
el reythe king
la reinathe queen
  • Many Spanish words can be used to talk about men or women simply by changing the ending. For example, if the word for the male ends in -o, you can almost always make it feminine by changing the -o to -a.
el amigothe (male) friend
la amigathe (female) friend
el hermanothe brother
la hermanathe sister
el empleadothe (male) employee
la empleadathe (female) employee
el viudothe widower
la viudathe widow
  • Note that some words referring to people end in -a in the masculine as well as in the feminine. Only the article (el or la, un or una) can tell you what gender the noun is.
el dentistathe (male) dentist
la dentistathe (female) dentist
el deportistathe sportsman
la deportistathe sportswoman
  • Many masculine nouns ending in a consonant (any letter other than a vowel) become feminine by adding an -a.
el españolthe Spanish man
la españolathe Spanish woman
el profesorthe (male) teacher
la profesorathe (female) teacher
TipIf the last vowel of the masculine word has an accent, this is dropped in the feminine form.
un inglésan Englishman
una inglesaan Englishwoman
un francésa Frenchman
una francesaa Frenchwoman
  • For more information about Spelling and Stress, see Spelling and Stress.
Key points
  • The ending of a Spanish word often helps you work out its gender: for instance, if a word ends in -o, it is probably masculine; if it ends in -a, it is probably feminine.
  • These endings generally mean that the noun is feminine: -ción, -sión, -dad, -tad, -tud
  • Days of the week and months of the year are masculine. So are languages, mountains and seas.
  • You can change the ending of some nouns from -o to -a to make a masculine noun feminine.

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