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Gender rules in Spanish nouns

05 Apr, 2017 Popular Articles, Spanish for Beginners
Gender rules in Spanish nouns2 votes. 5 / 5

The fact is that all Spanish nouns including people, animals, locations, places, feelings, things, etc have gender. This characteristic makes many Spanish learners confused. And mastering Spanish gender can take time. The following tips and gender rules for Spanish nouns will help you recognize, categorize, determine if a noun is feminine or masculine, and produce gender correctly while speaking Spanish.

Gender rules in Spanish nouns - Feminine or Masculine

How to say if a noun is feminine or masculine?

Gender rules in Spanish nouns

There are some rules to determine if a noun is masculine of feminine

1. Forms of feminine and masculine nouns

Spanish nouns have four forms depending on their gender and numbers: 

  • masculine singular - el
  • masculine plural - los
  • feminine singular - la
  • feminine plural - las

Examples:

The boy - el niño
The boys - los niños
The house – la casa
The houses – las casas 
The table – la mesa
The tables – las mesas
The thought – el pensamiento
The thoughts – los pensamientos

2. Most Spanish masculine nouns end in “o”

Examples:

El gato – the male cat
Los perros – the male dogs
El abuelo – the grandfather
Los tíos – the uncles
El oso – the male bear

Though, there are still some exceptions:

  • la foto
  • la mano
  • la moto
  • la libido
  • la radio
  • la polio

3. Most nouns that end in “a” are feminine nouns

When speaking about living creatures, nouns that end in “a” are feminine nouns

Examples:

la enfermera - the nurse
la rosa - the rose

Exceptions:

  • el drama
  • el enigma
  • el esquema
  • el estigma
  • el idioma
  • el morfema
  • el problema
  • el sistema
  • el tema
  • el aroma
  • el axioma
  • el carisma
  • el clima
  • el diagrama
  • el dilema
  • el fantasma
  • el prisma

4. Be careful since you may fall into a trap of gender thinking

Don’t think that everything associated with a male/a female will automatically be masculine/feminine. This only applies for distinct living creatures.

Examples:

la corbata - the necktie
el maquillaje - the makeup

5. When there is a group of mixed gender, that group is automatically referred to as masculine regardless of the ratio of females to males or males to females.

Examples:

1 niño + 4 niñas = 5 niños 
1 boy + 4 girls = 5 kids

6. Masculine nouns that end in consonants (non-vowels) have a corresponding feminine form that ends in “a”

Examples:

el profesor - the male professor
la profesora - the female professor

7. Some nouns that refer to professions have the same form for masculine and feminine

Examples:

el piloto - the male pilot
la piloto - the female pilot
el atleta - the male athlete 
la atleta - the female athlete

8. Nouns that end in “sión”, “coin”, “dad”, “tud” and “umbre” will always require the feminine article

Examples:

la exposición - the exhibition
la solicitud - the application

Remember all the rules and familiarize yourself with gender of nouns in Spanish by watching movies or reading newspaper. By this way, you can easily produce gender for nouns accurately when speaking English. Don’t forget to follow our site to enhance your Spanish to English skills.