What is a noun?
A noun is a person, place, or thing. Like English, nouns in Spanish may be singular or plural. However, unlike English, Spanish nouns can be either masculine or feminine. The easiest way of determining the gender of the noun is to learn the noun along with its corresponding definite article.
A definite article is specific, it defines the number and gender of the noun it corresponds to. In English, the only definite article is the, whereas in Spanish there are four of them: la, el, los and las.
Gender of nouns
Generally, in Spanish nouns ending in -o are masculine, while nouns ending in -a are feminine. A masculine noun may end in -or (el profesor); to make it feminine, you add an -a (la profesora). However, some nouns that end in -a it can be either masculine or feminine; in this case, gender is determined by the article in front of the noun (el artista, la artista). Nouns that end in -ión (la decisión), -dad (la universidad), and -z (la luz) are feminine, though there are exceptions.
When the noun is plural, you must be mindful of gender as well. If the group is made up of feminine nouns in its entirety, then be sure to employ the feminine form (las estudiantes). However, if the group is mixed, that is, it includes at least one masculine noun, then you must employ the masculine form (2 chicas + 1 chico = los chicos).
There are exceptions to these general rules, of course, so be sure to consult your dictionary or your professor.
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This section includes content derived from Introduction to French (2nd ed.), originally released under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0, Liberté, originally released under CC BY-NC-SA, and Tex’s French Grammar, originally released under CC BY 3.0.