HomeQ&AWhy do some nouns end with "a", yet are masculine?

Why do some nouns end with "a", yet are masculine?

2
votes

En mi clase de español, my teacher was teaching us how to add a verb into our sentences, like "El artista pinta." and "El poeta publica.". However, (and I did not have time to ask her this), why is "el artista" and "el poeta" using the masculine form of "the"? It obviously looks feminine to the inexperienced, and I got quite confused about this. Is it just because it is one of those words that is simply masculine? Or did mi profesora make a mistake? I would be very grateful if someone could clear this up for me. Gracias.

1659 views
updated NOV 6, 2009
posted by Chobit

3 Answers

2
votes

No, your teacher got it right. There are rules and exeptions, like the ones you mentioned. It also works the other way round, e.g. "la mano". I think you'll find this article quite helpful.

updated NOV 6, 2009
posted by Issabela
great article, even help me some... =) - DJ_Huero, NOV 6, 2009
True. There are always exceptions to the rule! - Alicia-53, NOV 6, 2009
Thanks! I always thought "the hand" was "el mano".... I suppose I need to study more. ^-^" - Chobit, NOV 6, 2009
Great reference article! Why isn't there something like that in SpanishDict? ;-) - chaparrito, NOV 6, 2009
2
votes

Is it just because it is one of those words that is simply masculine?

Nouns in Spanish are simply masculine or feminine (although there are a handful that can be either (are hermaphroditic?). The problem is that someone told you that the "rule" is that nouns that end in "a" are feminine. This is not a rule; it's a generalization (and would be more precisely phrased as "most nouns that end in "a" are feminine [and most nouns that end in "o" are masculine]).

Grammatical gender is not a question of rules/logic but, rather, of custom/tradition. In many cases a noun's gender is whatever it was in Latin/Greek (and has nothing to do with the meaning of the word).

As a simple matter of probabilities, if you see a word ending in "o"/"a" that is unfamiliar, you would do well so assume that it is masculine/feminine (but that's only because it's the "odds on" assumption). If the generalization does not apply in a particular case, it is pointless to ask "Why?" (because the only real answer is, "Because that's the way it is.")

updated NOV 6, 2009
posted by samdie
Nice in-depth consideration, Samdie! :-) - chaparrito, NOV 6, 2009
1
vote

¡Hola!, Chobit:

Span¡sh D!ct also has a great Reference Article explaining the genders of nouns.

You will find it here ----> Gender of Nouns

If you go over to look at it, and I encourage you to do that, have a look at what is in our Reference Library. There is a lot there that you are going to have to deal with in school. It really is a treasure trove and the Index Page has links to a huge amount of information. I suspect once you know about it you will return often.

Here is the Index Page ----> Span¡shD!ct Reference Library Index

Recuerdos/Regards,

Moe.

updated NOV 6, 2009
edited by Moe
posted by Moe
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