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Why is water given a masculine gender in Spanish even if it ends in -a, if its a exception it needs to be added in the exception section of words with Feminine endings but actually are masculine in the Masculine and Feminine nouns topic of Grammar section of Spanishdict.com ?

  • Posted Oct 31, 2012
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4 Answers

8 Vote

Technically, agua is a feminine noun. Any words that need to agree with it grammatically need to be feminine. For example, in the sentence "The contaminated water", the translation would be el agua contaminada, NOT el agua contaminado. So, technically, agua is feminine.

The el used with the singular agua is a special rule for some words beginning with a stressed "a". Sometimes, when a word begins with a stressed "a", the singular article will be "el"/"un", no "la"/"una", even though the noun remains feminine. When the noun is plural, however, the article regains its "femininity" and becomes "las": "Las aguas".

  • Thanks Maxwell, really helpful answer, can you advise which other such words we need to be carefull, also this I believe is then a separate section of words which needs to be included in Masculine and Feminine nouns by Spanishdict - behramirani Oct 31, 2012 flag
  • Nice answer :) águila / eagle is another case - el águila, las águilas ;) - Kiwi-Girl Oct 31, 2012 flag
  • Good explanation! - francobollo Oct 31, 2012 flag
  • Oh dear, I didn't se you had answered it already, so I needn't have exerted myself. Good answer. - annierats Oct 31, 2012 flag
1 Vote

You can also look at this article here about it. One important part I noticed in that article was that the article only changed if it comes directly before the noun. If there is an adjective between the noun and the article, you should use the "normal" article.

1 Vote

Have a look here for some more exceptions

  • Great link, Ian, but just a reminder to behramirani, some of those nouns are grammatically masculine (el clima, los climas), and some are grammatically feminine (el águila, but las águilas) - Maxwell_R Nov 1, 2012 flag
1 Vote

All it is really, is that Spanish doesn't like to run two ' a's together, la agua therefore becomes el agua, just as English doesn't like 'a' aspirin, it becomes ' an' aspirin or an idea, when followed by a vowel.

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