2 Vote

I have a question about 'agua'. I thought 'agua' is female vocabulary because it finishes with 'a', but I learned it as 'el agua' not 'la agua' in 'learn spanish'... Could you tell me why it is 'el agua'?

  • Posted May 11, 2010
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9 Answers

7 Vote

When you have a feminine noun with a stressed "a" sound at the beginning (hacha, agua, hámaca) it uses "el" as its article to avoid an awkward pronunciation.

You would still use feminine adjectives (el hacha peligrosa, el agua fría, el hámaca roja), and you use "las" for the plural (las aguas, etc.).

4 Vote

Hello, and welcome to the forum. Agua is always feminine, but it takes the masculine definite article (el) when in the singular because the word agua begins with a stressed A. All words that have the emphasis on the first syllable and begin with an A follow this patter. If they didn't the end of la would run together with the first syllable and sound like lagua. Despite using the masculine definite article in the singular, it is never actually masculine. You still say el agua clara, with a feminine adjective. It revers to the feminine article in the plural, las aguas claras, because the S separates the two A sounds.

3 Vote

It is feminine, but there is a rule about using " el" as the article of feminine nouns that begin with a. This prevents the awkward " la agua" construction.

See here

1 Vote

It is 'el agua' because (I think) the a is a 'strong' a.... (sorry I cannot remember the linguistic term for it but I will look it up and get back to you!)

So you use 'el' before it but as it is a feminine noun any adjective has to agree with it as a feminine noun.

Por ejemplo: 'el agua fría'

Bit weird I know... tongue rolleye

Maybe a more knowledgeable person could elaborate?


'El' and the indefinite article 'un' are used immediately before singular feminine nouns beginning with a stressed 'a' or 'ha': this does not affect their gender.

from the Fourth Edition of A New Reference Grammar of Modern Spanish.

Good book but more suited to intermediate learners and above - beginners might find it a bit off putting!

1 Vote

"Agua" es una palabra femenina, que exige el artículo masculino en ciertos casos, pero sin embargo es femenina:

El agua fría, no el agua frío. Las aguas dulces, no los aguas dulces. La última agua, no el último agua. Mucha agua, no mucho agua.

Mirad aquí: http://lema.rae.es/dpd/?key=agua

agua. 1. ‘Sustancia líquida inodora, incolora e insípida en estado puro’. Este sustantivo es femenino. Al comenzar por /a/ tónica, exige el uso de la forma el del artículo definido si entre ambos elementos no se interpone otra palabra (→ el, 2.1), pero los adjetivos deben ir en forma femenina: «Podía verse a lo lejos el agua clara» (Regás Azul [Esp. 1994]). En cuanto al artículo indefinido, aunque no se considera incorrecto el uso de la forma plena una, hoy es mayoritario y preferible el uso de la forma apocopada un (→ uno, 1): «Se internaron en un agua muy mansa» (Villena Burdel [Esp. 1995]). Lo mismo ocurre con los indefinidos alguno y ninguno: algún agua, ningún agua. El resto de los adjetivos determinativos debe ir en femenino: esta agua, toda el agua, mucha agua, etc. Con el diminutivo agüita deben usarse las formas la y una, pues el acento ya no recae en la /a/ inicial: «La “agüita de panela” [...] no sustituye a la leche» (Traversa Cine [Arg. 1984]); «Te vas a tomar una agüita de ortiga con cinamón» (Gamboa Páginas [Col. 1998]).

1 Vote

Slightly off topic, but think of English. We use "an" in front of vowels. So we (usually) speak of a hospital or a hotel, but an heir or an heirloom. The h in "hospital" is stressed, so we stick an "a" in front of it. The h in "heir" is not pronounced/stressed, so we add the n to form "an heir". I.e., we change the rule ("an" only goes in front of vowels) so that things sound better. That's the same reason for having el agua, as Mariana and Macfadden explain.

Sometimes it's easy to think of Spanish as complicated and weird, without realizing that we do similar complicated or weird things in English - it's just that, as it's our language, we're simply not aware of it.

0 Vote

"El agua" is masculine.

It is not the same as "el mar" o "la mar". We say "la mar" mainly in poetry. It is more sophisticated.

0 Vote

El agua es la correcta

0 Vote

el agua

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