Language 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 aWords 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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