Hello I have bad news for you: Nouns in Spanish have a gender. But don’t worry because gender is not a problematic issue for Spanish students. The good news is that I have prepared 7 rules that will help you to understand the gender in Spanish. You can practice also with interactive exercises. Ready?
1. Feminine and masculine nouns ending in
-A / -O
The first and more basic rule is: nouns that end in «o» are masculine and nouns that end in «a» are feminine. Easy! Here are some examples.
Feminine nouns in Spanish: The house, the beach, the mountain, the word, the film.
Masculine nouns in Spanish: the job, the museum, the wine, the plate, the theatre
The nouns referring to animals o people change the gender. Here are some examples:
El gato – the male cat / la gata – the female cat
El niño – the male child / la niña – the female child
2. Feminine and masculine nouns ending in -E
Nouns ending in -e can be masculine and feminine. This is a little more complicated but my recommendation is to learn the more common words in a first moment. Then little by little you will learn the others.
The night, the afternoon, the class, the car, the man and the dance.
Another masculine nouns ending in -e :
el aire ( the air), el chocolate ( the chocolat), el té (the thé)
Another feminine nouns ending in -e:
la gente ( the people), la calle ( the road), la leche ( the milk)
3. Exceptions: Feminine nouns ending in -O and masculine nouns ending in -A
What a surprise! Some nouns ending in -o can be feminine and some nouns ending in -a can be masculine. But don’t be in panic, there are only a few exceptions. Here are some examples.
The motorbike, the photo, the hand and the radio.
The sofa, the planet, the day and the map…
4. Exceptions: Masculine nouns ending in
-MA, -AJE and -OR
There are lots of Spanish nouns that end in the letters ‘ma’, and they are almost always male. Here are some examples.
The problem, the theme, the poem, the idiom, the pyjamas, the system, the diploma, the climate, the ghost.
Here are three exceptions to this rule: la cama (the bed), la forma (the form) y la crema (the cream).
Nouns ending in -aje, -or are masculine. Here are some examples.
The landscape, the massage, the travel, the computer, the colour, the motor.
Another common nouns ending in -or:
el amor (the love), el calor (the heat), el olor (the smell), el dolor (the pain) etc…
Here is one exception to this rule:
la flor (the flower)
5. Exception: Feminine nouns ending in
-CIÓN, -SIÓN, -DAD, -TAD
Nouns ending in consonant are usually masculine but there are some exceptions: The nouns ending in -ción, sión, -dad, -tad are feminine. Here are some examples.
The song, the television, the university, the friendship…
Another common nouns ending in -ción, ´-sión, -dad and -tad :
La ciudad (the city), la verdad (the true), la felicidad (the hapiness), la pasión (the pasión), la emoción (the emotion) la estación (the station), la depresión (the depression), la relación (the relationship) etc…
6. Feminine nouns with a masculine article
All of these nouns are feminine. But when you say them with an article it needs to be «el». This is o solve the problem of the «a» in «la» stringing together with the «a» in agua, alma or the first syllable in hambre since the letter «h» is almost silent in Spanish.
The water, the soul, the hunger, the classroom
When you combine these nouns with adjectives, you can see that they are feminine:
English: the warm water
Spanish: El agua templada
English: A light and airy class room
Spanish: El aula luminosa
7. Common masculine nouns:
The colours, the numbers, the months, the days of the week and the languages
Los colores (the colours): el rojo, el verde, el naranja, el azul…
Los números (the numbers): el uno, el dos, el dieciséis, el veinte…
Los meses (the months): el mes de enero, el mes de febrero, el mes de junio…
Los días de la semana (the days of the week): el lunes, el martes, el sábado, el domingo…
Los idiomas (the languages): el inglés, el español, el francés, el alemán…
Let’s practice the gender in Spanish
¿masculine or feminine?
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