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Quick answer
"Escalera" is a noun which is often translated as "stairs", and "lavaplatos" is a noun which is often translated as "dishwasher". Learn more about the difference between "escalera" and "lavaplatos" below.
A feminine noun is almost always used with feminine articles and adjectives (e.g. la mujer bonita, la luna llena).
1. (in a building)
a. stairs
Tuvimos que subir por las escaleras.We had to go up the stairs.
b. stairway
La escalera da al mar.The stairway leads to the ocean.
c. staircase
Las escaleras están oscuras de noche.The staircase is dark at night.
2. (portable)
a. ladder
Los bomberos siempre llevan una escalera en su camión.The firefighters always carry a ladder on their truck.
3. (cards)
a. straight
Su full le ganó a mi escalera.Her full house beat my straight.
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A masculine noun is used with masculine articles and adjectives (e.g. el hombre guapo, el sol amarillo).
1. (electrical appliance)
a. dishwasher
Cuando acabe el lavaplatos, vacíalo.When the dishwasher is done, unload it.
2. (basin) (Andes)
Regionalism used in Mexico
a. sink
Llené el lavaplatos de agua y dejé la cacerola en remojo toda la noche.I filled the sink with water and left the saucepan to soak overnight.
This means that the noun can be masculine or feminine, depending on the gender of person it refers to (e.g. el doctor, la doctora).
3. (profession)
a. dishwasher
Durante las vacaciones de verano, trabajaba como lavaplatos en un restaurante.During summer vacation, I worked as a dishwasher in a restaurant.
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