HomeQ&AGender of nouns

Gender of nouns


No one has answered my question regarding noun prefixes. Are all male nouns assumed to have the "el" prefix and all female nouns the "la" prefix even if not the prefix is not shown in a Spanish dictionary? The grammar rules are unclear and do not specifically say that this is so. The grammar rules only refer to gender and not the prefixes.

updated JUL 15, 2010
posted by shrvjack
As a general rule, all masculine nouns take 'el' when they take a definite article, and all female nouns take 'la' when they take a definite article. The exceptions, like the one Qfreed mentions, will be noted in the dictionary in the word's entry. - MacFadden, JUL 15, 2010
The notation may vary by dictionary. In the Oxford Spanish Dictionary, it is a cursive f followed by a double dagger (which looks like a / with two horizontal slashes). Like this, f‡. - MacFadden, JUL 15, 2010
Thanks to everyone who answered. The added articles on some words and not others were confusing me. - shrvjack, JUL 15, 2010

3 Answers


The grammar term usually used is definite articles. Prefixes are a subject of morphology such as des, in, sub, etc.

Yes, all nouns have gender.

No, the noun is not always preceded by the definite article.

When a masculine noun is preceded by a definite article it normally uses the masculine definite article (el).

When a feminine noun is preceded by a definite article it normally uses the feminine definite article la. There are exceptions: such as when feminine nouns that begin with an "a" or "ha" and have that syllable stressed are preceded by the masculine definite article. e.g. el agua (agua is a feminine noun)

adjectives used as nouns may be preceded by the neuter definite article lo. e.g. lo importante

To answer your question as it is worded: no. There are rules for using the definite articles with nouns. They are not built-into the noun. That is why the dictionary says that a noun is masculine or feminine (gender). It does not say it is el+noun or la + noun

updated JUL 15, 2010
edited by 0074b507
posted by 0074b507

I think you question is unclear. I went back and read your previous question. It's seems you're asking about when to use the articles in front of the nouns. Is this right?

If so... there have been other questions about this, most reference this article.

usage of definite articles

That is the name of the section you want to see.

updated JUL 15, 2010
edited by megan5
posted by megan5

If you are also asking about whether or not all nouns that are identified as masculine use ''el'' as a definite article and all nouns that are identified as feminine use ''la'' as a definite article, the answer is yes except for the exceptions that qfreed mentioned.

However, in addition, please note that if the noun is plural, then the definite article must also be plural:

el (masculine singular)

los (masculine plural)

la (feminine singular)

las (feminine plural)

the book = el libro

the books = los libros

the house = la casa

the houses = las casas

And, as others have said, the definite article is not always used in front of nouns.

I recommend that you read the article megan5 suggested for when to use and not use definite articles.

BTW, welcome to the SpanishDict forum!

I hope that you will continue to participate on SpanishDict and that you find this Web site to be as wonderful as we do! There is a huge amount of information here. Check-out some of the links at the top of each page, such as the ''more'' link. You will find great stuff there!

updated JUL 15, 2010
edited by Pajaro44
posted by Pajaro44
SpanishDict is the world's most popular Spanish-English dictionary, translation, and learning website.
© Curiosity Media Inc.