HomeQ&AEl problema in dictionary, why masculine?

El problema in dictionary, why masculine?


This seems unusual to have an ending in "a" be masculine instead of feminine and I would like to know if there are any other nouns ending in "a" that are also masculine besides problema. I have seen it written as la problema but I think that is incorrect?


updated ENE 13, 2011
posted by foxluv
Thanks all this was very helpful and led me to wanting more so I used my search capabilities to get a better picture of this definite article gender problem and came up with this site: http://www.cliffsnotes.com/study_guide/Gender.topicArticleId-23932,art - foxluv, MAR 31, 2010

5 Answers


Generally speaking most of these "exceptions" are words that end in "-ma" and that come from Greek. Since you probably haven't studied Greek, that may not help much but a reasonable hint would be if there is a very similar word in English e.g. dilema, tema, sistema, etc. There are also some (fewer, I think) that end in "-pa"

updated ENE 3, 2012
edited by samdie
posted by samdie
I love explanations that include the reason why something is the way that it is. - h1deaway, MAR 31, 2010
Samdie, this is great! Now for a little rap poem to help us remember the rule. - foxluv, MAR 31, 2010

Yes there are quite a few words that end in the letter "a", but are masculine.

Two that come to mind are:

el mapa y el agua

It can be confusing, but it is really just a matter of a little more memorization. English is also full of rules that sometimes don't seem to make sense. smile

updated ENE 13, 2011
posted by Nicole-B
"agua" is feminine, the "el" is used for reasons of euphony. - samdie, MAR 31, 2010
That is true. - Nicole-B, MAR 31, 2010
gee, ha ha ha. it seems this is a good question since even Nicole is confused. - foxluv, MAR 31, 2010
I asked my professor about agua being feminine and he said the same thing as samdie and added that when you use modifiers to agua they take the feminine form. - foxluv, ABR 3, 2010
Agua is feminine. El agua está fría. Las aguas son bellas. The English equivalent of the use of "el" in this situation would be the use of "an" instead of "a" with words beginning in a vowel sound. - gitanajo, ENE 13, 2011

This poorly written, is written correctly, the problem is male

updated ABR 1, 2010
posted by Montserrat22
Are you saying that males are the problem? jeje - CalvoViejo, MAR 31, 2010
No, no. Males are poorly written! Mail is correct. Of course mail in Spanish is male (el correo).... :-p - Gekkosan, MAR 31, 2010
¡Estáis en plena forma hoy! - samdie, ABR 1, 2010

A lot of words in Spanish that end in ...ma/ .....pa/.....ta are masculine....just a case of learning them :( Happy studying.

updated MAR 31, 2010
posted by Neilnpaul

Día is a masculine noun.

updated MAR 31, 2010
posted by h1deaway
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