Nouns whose meanings change with gender ; Doubly Gendered.

Nouns whose meanings change with gender ; Doubly Gendered.


An article from "About .Com"

Nouns Whose Meanings Change With Gender

Spanish About.com

Nearly all nouns in Spanish are always masculine or always feminine. But there are a few nouns that can be either.

In most cases, those are the nouns describing what people do, and the gender varies with the person the word stands for. Thus, for example, el dentista refers to a male dentist, while la dentista refers to a female dentist. Un artista is a male artist, while una artista is a female artist. Most, but not all, of the occupational words that follow this pattern end in -ista. One that doesn't is atleta: un atleta is a male athlete, while una atleta is a female athlete.

But there are a few nouns where the matter of gender is more complicated. Those are the nouns whose meanings vary depending on the gender of articles or adjectives used with them. In most cases, there's no immediately obvious reason why one meaning has developed with the masculine gender and another meaning for the feminine, so the only way to learn them is to memorize them or use them until you know them.

Following is a list of the most common such words. Only the basic or most usual meanings are included here; consult a dictionary for more thorough definitions.

Spanish nouns whose meanings change with gender

-busca: el busca = pager (electronic device); la busca = search

-capital: el capital = financial capital; la capital = capital city, capital letter

-cólera: el cólera = cholera; la cólera = anger

-coma: el coma = coma; la coma = comma

-cometa: el cometa = comet; la cometa = kite

-consonante: el consonante = rhyme; la consonante = consonant

-corte: el corte = cut, blade; la corte = court (law)

-cura: el cura = Catholic priest; la cura = cure

-delta: el delta = delta (of a river); la delta = delta (Greek letter)

-doblez: el doblez = fold, crease; la doblez = double dealing

-editorial: el editorial = editorial (opinion article); la editorial = publishing business

-escucha: el escucha = male sentry or guard; la escucha = female sentry or guard, the act of listening

-final: el final = end; la final = championship game in a tournament

-frente: el frente = front; la frente = forehead

-guardia: el guardia = policeman; la guardia = protection, custody, guard, police force, policewoman

There are many more

updated MAY 31, 2013
edited by jessicamccall117
posted by ray76
Do you have the link to the article? - jessicamccall117, MAY 30, 2013
I added the other article. I hope you don't mind. :) - jessicamccall117, MAY 30, 2013
Not at all my friend anything which will help us all learn is OK by me. - ray76, MAY 30, 2013
Good find Ray. Thank you - EL_MAG0, MAY 30, 2013
thanks mate , how you doin , still wracking them up ? - ray76, MAY 30, 2013
Great job ray! - 0080b918, MAY 30, 2013
Gracias, mi amigo! I will make flash cards with the nouns.:) - chellapadua, MAY 30, 2013
Yay, chella!! Thank you. I'll look for them and add to my favorites. - Findy, MAY 30, 2013
A giant Thank you to whomesover set the list out correctly for me , I can now see howw it is done . bien hecho amigo/a. - ray76, MAY 30, 2013
*cough cough* no problem :D - jessicamccall117, MAY 30, 2013
Ahaaa dear child of the future you are a gem, a veritable saviour of this ancient decrepid old Bod. Thanks mate mucho appreciative. - ray76, MAY 30, 2013
apreciativo , the rotten thong changed it for me without my knowledge or notice , bad thingy !!!! - ray76, MAY 30, 2013
De nada, amigo. I just couldn't help myself. Darn impulses. One of these days they will get me in trouble. - jessicamccall117, MAY 31, 2013
I had an "impulse" once the worst car that I ever owned. - ray76, MAY 31, 2013

6 Answers


Wait, the meaning does not change the gender, however the meaning determines what gender is going to be used.


EDIT: The article is a bit flawed, as I see it, because it looks at it as a simple problem, which is not, Since I don't know grammar I cannot give you grammar explanations but here is an example of my explanation, which cannot be used to explain all of them...

Buscar: to search

El busca: the choice (pager) is a regional name for a pager, I didn't even know that it was called like that. I don't know what country/countries use this. I thought it meant "él busca = he searches"

La busca = In plain Spanish it means "he/she searches for her/it"

Now the article says it means search. I don't know in what country that term would be used, but I can tell you that "la búsqueda" = "the search"

So I wouldn't really recommend to base any kind of knowledge on this article.

Sorry to be a party pooper... :(

updated MAY 31, 2013
edited by chileno
posted by chileno
Correct mate, doubly gendered not , gender bending, But as you can see the meanings change dramatically. - ray76, MAY 30, 2013
Incidentally , if you or anyone can put that list in a more understandable list order I would appreciate it , I just am not able to work it out, too thick I guess. - ray76, MAY 30, 2013

Thanks Ray, I had never thought about this, in this manner.

updated MAY 30, 2013
posted by annierats
It was a revelation to me also. - ray76, MAY 30, 2013

This is a very helpful post, even more so because I have certainly never thought about it. Thanks for coming to the rescue Ray! I would love to take a look at the article. I will try to find it.

updated MAY 30, 2013
posted by jessicamccall117
I can send it to you want.---http://spanish.about.com/od/nouns/a/gender_inherent.htm?nl=1 - ray76, MAY 30, 2013
Thanks a million Ray! I'll take a look at it. - jessicamccall117, MAY 30, 2013
http://spanish.about.com/od/nouns/a/double_gendered.htm This is the link that you got that list from. It is a seperate article but I found both very helpful. - jessicamccall117, MAY 30, 2013
No problems mate , I am in a spin at the moment and not quite up to scratch. Whateveeeeeeerrrr. - ray76, MAY 30, 2013
No worries - jessicamccall117, MAY 30, 2013

Great Article!

I just went on the website it was very nice!

updated MAY 30, 2013
posted by 0080b918
Thanks mate , now make sure that you try some of them out .Post some of maybe ? - ray76, MAY 30, 2013

Good articles Ray. Perfect for reviewing.

Thanks mate.

updated MAY 30, 2013
posted by EL_MAG0
It is a fabulous site , gives great insight into areas one would never think existed , there is a forum also to discuss whatever. - ray76, MAY 30, 2013
Its true - 0080b918, MAY 30, 2013

Ay!! Even more ways to 'impress' my Spanish friends with mixed-up words! enter image description here

Seriously, great article, Ray. Gracias! enter image description here This would make an excellent set of flashcards. Any takers?

updated MAY 30, 2013
edited by Findy
posted by Findy
I will use them, but I am afraid I can't volunteer myself to make them. Last exam of the year is today...*gulps* right now! lol. - jessicamccall117, MAY 30, 2013
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