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January 19, 2017 ·

Spanish Grammar – Nouns and Gender

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Spanish Grammar Series

One of the trickiest things to come to terms with for a native English speaker attempting to learn Spanish, is the key role that gender plays.  In English, gender is not important unless you are speaking about a living object, ie, a person or an animal.  However, in Spanish, all nouns (person, place, thing or idea) have a gender.

If you have already studied one of the other Romance languages – a language derived from Latin – this concept will be familiar to you.  If not, take a look below to help you understand how gender works in Spanish.

The gender of the noun is important because the adjective and articles must also be masculine.  The adjective must match the noun in terms of the gender and the number, singular or plural.

How to remember what is male or female?

Thankfully there are some rules to follow to help you decide whether the noun takes the masculine or feminine form.

Masculine Nouns

Rule

Examples

Nouns ending in ‘o’

El chico – the boy, El libro – the book

Nouns ending in ‘ma’El problema – the problem, El idioma – The language
Nouns which refer to malesEl padre – the father, El hombre – the man
Nouns ending in ‘r’El motor – the motor
Nouns ending in ‘aje’El pasaje – the voyage, El viaje – the trip
Days of the weekEl lunes – Monday, El jueves – Thursday
Months of the year (typically used without ‘el’)Enero – January, Abril – April
Compass directionsEl norte – North, El este – East
A group with mixed genders is always masculineLos estudiantes – the students, 5 niños – 5 children

Feminine Nouns

Rule

Examples

Nouns ending in ‘a’La chica – the girl, La camisa – the shirt
Nouns ending in ‘cion’ or ‘sion’La conversacion– the conversation , La television – The television
Nouns ending in ‘dad’ or ‘tad’La ciudad – the city, La libertad – the freedom
Nouns ending in ‘umbre’La costumbre – the tradition
Nouns ending in ‘z’La paz – the peace, La luz – the light
Letters of the alphabetLa a, la be, la ce – a,b,c
Nouns which refer to femalesLa madre – the mother, La mujer – the woman

Exceptions

All rules have exceptions and the Spanish language is no different.  Typically you will need to memorize these exceptions as there is no logic that is immediately apparent. A few are listed below, but this list is not exhaustive.

El dia – Day

El mapa

El sofa

La mano

La radio

To avoid doubt, it is always best to learn not only the verb but also the article (el, la, los, las, un, una, unos, unas) as it is the article which will confirm the gender of the noun.

Finally, it’s important to remember just because you think something may typically refer to a man, it does not necessarily follow that the noun is masculine, eg la barba – the beard.

Grammar may not necessarily be the most exciting aspect of learning a new language, however, it is fundamental. Without a strong grasp of grammar you won’t be able to communicate effectively, which let’s face it, is often the reason learn another language.

“According to Vamos Spanish Academy” Learning a language is a huge challenge. When you have spent hours not making any real progress and fumbling your speech, it is easy to wonder if this is really such a good idea.
But bilingualism is a valuable tool where the rewards will easily make up for the effort. Remember the reasons why you decided to practice that language and the fact that requires constant, long practice. Fluency is only a matter of time and effort. If you make a true effort to immerse yourself in the language, understand the culture, and practice as much as you can, you will find yourself knowing a language which can enrich your life and teach you new perspectives”

These grammar concepts (and much more) are taught at Vamos Spanish Academy.  Take a look at our website and we will be happy to help your on your way to learning Spanish

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