Grammar Guide
Gender
Masculine and Feminine Nouns

Masculine and Feminine Nouns

Quick Answer

All Spanish nouns (sustantivos), including people, places, animals, things, ideas, and feelings, have a gender (male or female).

The fact that inanimate objects have a gender in Spanish does not mean that things like tables and books are physically feminine or masculine. They have genders in a grammatical sense and must be used with articles and adjectives that match their gender.

There are a few general rules you can follow to determine if a noun is feminine or masculine.

Masculine Nouns

Most masculine nouns end in o. An o ending can indicate that a person or animal is male or that an object, idea, etc. is grammatically masculine.

Masculine Nouns that End in O

el cartero
the mailman/postman
el niño
the child/son
el tío
the uncle
el teatro
the theater
el dormitorio
the bedroom

Masculine Nouns that Don't End in O

Words that end in the following letters or letter combinations are often masculine:

  • an accented vowel (á, é, í, ó, ú)
  • -ma
  • a consonant other than d, z
  • e
  • Not all words ending in -ma are masculine. Some, like forma (form), are feminine.
  • There are also many common words ending in e that are feminine, so this rule must be taken with a grain of salt.

The table below show examples of masculine words with the endings listed above.

EndingExamples
eel perfume (perfume), el estante (shelf), el maquillaje (makeup)
accented vowelel colibrí (hummingbird), el ají (chili pepper) , el ñandú (rhea)
consonant other than d, zel árbol (tree), el rumor (rumor), el cojín (cushion)
-mael programa (program), el drama (drama), el idioma (language)

Borrowing From Greek!

A lot of nouns that end in -ma, -pa, and -ta are masculine because they are Greek in origin.

Exceptions

The following nouns are exceptions to the above rules and are feminine, not masculine.

Words Ending in oWords Ending in eWords Ending in Consonants Besides d or z
la foto
la llave
la miel
la mano
la calle
la sal
la moto
la fiebre
la hiel
la libido
la carne
la piel
la radio
la frase
la coliflor
la polio
la gente
la sor
la virago
la nieve
la labor
la noche
la flor
la nube
la sangre
la suerte
la tarde
la muerte
la madre
la base
la clase
la clave
la corriente
la fuente
la llave
la sede
la serpiente
la torre

Feminine Nouns

Most feminine nouns end in a. Ending in an a indicates that a person or animal is female or that an object, idea, etc. is grammatically feminine.

Feminine Nouns that End in A

la enfermera
the nurse
la profesora
the teacher
la hija
the daughter
la rosa
the rose
la guitarra
the guitar
la piscina
the pool

Feminine Nouns that Don't End in A

Nouns that end in in d, z, or -ión are also feminine.

EndingExamples
dla felicidad (happiness), la virtud (virtue), la salud (health)
zla paz (peace), la nariz (nose), la luz (light)
-iónla canción (song), la religión (religion), la irritación (irritation)

Exceptions

The following nouns are exceptions to the above rules and are masculine, not feminine.

Words Ending in aWords Ending in dWords Ending in zWords Ending in -ión
el drama
el huésped
el aprendiz
el ansión
el enigma
el ataúd
el cáliz
el roción
el esquema
el abad
el arroz
el notición
el estigma
el alud
el pez
el sentención
el estratega
el áspid
el lápiz
el idioma
el laúd
el ajedrez
el mapa
el récord
el antifaz
el morfema
el milord
el maíz
el planeta
el césped
el albornoz
el problema
el avestruz
el sistema
el altavoz
el tema
el altramuz
el día
el arroz
el aroma
el barniz
el axioma
el cariz
el buda
el disfraz
el carisma
el haz
el clima
el matiz
el diagrama
el dilema
el fantasma
el panda
el prisma

Gender and Adjectives

Spanish adjectives must match the nouns they describe in both gender and number. For example, apples (manzanas) are feminine in Spanish, so this word must be used with feminine articles like la, las, and una. Any adjective used to describe an apple in Spanish must also be feminine (for example roja). On the other hand, bananas (plátanos) are masculine, and must be used with masculine articles and adjectives.

La manzana es roja.
The apple is red.
El plátano es amarillo.
The banana is yellow.

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