Nouns - Gender

Overview

One of the hardest things for people to get used to when learning Spanish is the idea that nouns (people, places, animals, things, ideas, and feelings) have a gender (male, female). There is always a question of "How can a table be feminine? and "How can a a book be masculine?" This doesn´t mean that the table or the book is physically feminine or masculine, but in a grammatical sense, the ending is. Below you will find a quick rundown of how to deal with all the gender confusion and a few easy ways to remember all the exceptions.

Masculine Nouns

Most masculine nouns end in -o. Ending in an -o can indicate that a person or animal is male, or just an object, idea, etc. that is grammatically masculine.

Masculine Nouns that End in -O

-o
el cartero (mailman)
el niño (son)
el tío (uncle)
el teatro (theater)
el dormitorio (bedroom)

For All Those Masculine Nouns that Don't End in -O...

If it ends in -e, an accented vowel (á, é, í, ó, ú), a consonant other than -d, -z, or -ma (greek origin) it's also masculine.

Non -O Masculine Nouns

-e el perfume, el estante, el maquillaje
**accented vowel ** el colibrí, el ají, el ñandú
consonant (except -d, -z, and -ión) el arbol, el rumor, el cojín
-ma el programa, el drama, el idioma

And, the exceptions...These nouns may look like they have a masculine ending, but they are actually feminine. No rules here.

They Look Masculine, But are Feminine!

-o -e accented vowel & consonants that aren´t -d nor -z
la foto la llave la fe la miel
la mano la calle la sal
la moto la fiebre la hiel
la carne la piel
la frase
la gente
la nieve
la noche
la nube
la sangre
la suerte
la tarde
la muerte

Feminine Nouns

Most feminine nouns end in -a (except for those masculine -ma nouns). Ending in an -a indicates that a person or animal is feminine or that an object, idea, etc. is grammatically feminine.

Feminine Nouns that End in -A

-a
la enfermera (nurse)
la profesora (teacher)
la hija (daughter)
la rosa (rose)
la guitarra (guitar)
la piscina (pool)

For All Those Feminine Nouns that Don't End in -A

If it ends in -d, -z, or ión, it's also feminine.

-d -z -ión
la felicidad la nariz la religión
la virtud la paz la canción
la salud la luz la irritación

And the exceptions... These nouns look like they have feminine endings, but are grammatically masculine.

-a -d -z
el día el césped el avestruz
el drama el huésped el aprendiz
el enigma el ataúd el cáliz
el esquema el arroz
el estigma el pez
el estratega el lápiz
el idioma el ajedrez
el mapa el antifaz
el morfema el maíz
el planeta
el problema
el sistema
el tema

Borrowing From Greek!

A lot of nouns that end in -ma, -pa, and -ta are masculine because they are Greek in origin.

Exercises

  1. Categorize each noun as masculine or feminine.

Example: ñandú -> masculine

  1. planeta
  2. lápiz
  3. computadora
  4. libro
  5. música
  6. espacio
  7. vacación
  8. luz
  9. café
  10. capacidad

Answers

  1. planeta - masculine
  2. lápiz - masculine
  3. computadora - feminine
  4. libro - masculine
  5. música - feminine
  6. espacio - masculine
  7. vacación - feminine
  8. luz - feminine
  9. café - masculine
  10. capacidad - feminine
114320 views
updated Aug 6, 2012
edited by martha-sd
SpanishDict is the world's most popular Spanish-English dictionary, translation, and learning website.
© Curiosity Media Inc.  |  Mobile site
SOCIAL NETWORKS
APPS