HomeQ&AHow do I know when to use el or la? Gender?

How do I know when to use el or la? Gender?

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How do I know when to use el (e.g. el mar) or la (eg. la isla)? el is the and la is a? Or is it gender related? Be kind, I'm a beginner...

2142 views
updated JUN 24, 2010
edited by Rikko
posted by zhawnamama

3 Answers

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it is gender related. In most european languages, nouns are divided into masculine and feminine (and in some cases into neuter as well, though not in spanish).

The easiest way to start is to look at 2 words where the gender is obvious. So el nino and la nina. The boy, the girl.

The (male) boy is obviously a masculine noun so you use the definate article "el". The (female) girl is obviously a feminine noun so you use the definate article "la"

All nouns will be either masculine or feminine, though unfortunately the gender of most nouns is not as obvious and you will often have to look the gender up in the dictionary.

updated JUN 24, 2010
edited by El_Hitch
posted by El_Hitch
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El is the singular masculine form for "the." La is the feminine singular form for "the". As a general rule, any word that ends in an "o" is masculine, and any word that ends in "a" is feminine. Some words, usually that end in "e" are both.

Example: (masculine) El gato, el perro, el disco, el queso

(feminine) la lámpara, la hermana, la alumna

(other) el or la cliente (though I have seen some versions of el cliente/la clienta)

Like all rules, there are exceptions...so it is best to learn the gender of your words. For example: la mano, el mapa, el papel

Do you see the "More" tab at the top of the page? If you press the little arrow and go down to References, you probably will find many helpful explanations. I just found out about it not long ago, and most newbies don't know about it.

Welcome to the forum, by the way.

updated JUN 24, 2010
posted by 004e13c4
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Welcome to the forumgrin

This reference article is about gender, it will help youwink

updated JUN 24, 2010
posted by 00494d19
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