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2.6: Gramática. Género de sustantivos

  • Page ID
    • Erica Brown, Alejandra Escudero, María Cristina Montoya, & Elizabeth Small
    • SUNY Oneonta via OER SUNY

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    • Identify the gender of nouns
    ¡OJO! (Watch out!) ¡El género de los sustantivos es importante!
    the pope
    el Papa
    the potato
    la papa

    Género de los sustantivos (Gender of Nouns)

    All nouns in Spanish have a gender: masculine or feminine. Except in the case of people or animals, linguistic gender is a convention of language, not a property of the noun. For this reason, you won’t be able to guess the gender of a noun based on the object itself; you need to learn the gender along with the noun. However, there are some rules that can help you guess the gender of an unknown word:

    1. The gender of nouns:

    • The definite article meaning “the” is la for feminine singular nouns.
      • Most words ending in –a are feminine

    la chica 
    la silla 
    la tiza 

      • All words ending in -sión, -ción, -tad, -dad, and –umbre are feminine.

    la televisión 
    la educación 
    la dificultad 
    la universidad 
    la lumbre 

    • The definite article meaning “the” is el for masculine singular nouns. Notice that el without the accent mark is the article… what does él mean? That’s right, it means “he”. Don’t confuse el and él!
      • Most words ending in –o are masculine.

    el chic
    el libro 
    el cuaderno 

      • Many but not all words ending in –ma are masculine (the ones that originated from the Greek language are the masculine ones).

    el problema 
    el clima 
    el idioma 

    • Many nouns end in –e. While statistically more are masculine than feminine, there is no firm rule for these and you need to memorize their gender when learning their meaning.

    la clase 

    el diente 
    el coche 

    • Many nouns that end in consonants other than -d or -z are masculine, but again this is not a firm rule and you must memorize their gender.

    el honor 
    el hospital 
    el hotel 

    • There are other nouns that do not clearly reveal their gender, so it is important that you memorize them.

    el pupitre 
    el lápiz 
    el reloj 
    la luz 
    la pared 

    • There are also some exceptions to the above patterns that you have to remember.

    el día 
    el mapa 
    la mano 
    la foto (short for la fotografía
    la moto (short for la motocicleta

    2. People:

    el muchacho (boy  la muchacha (girl
    el niño (male child  la niña (female child
    el maestro (male teacher  la maestra (female teacher
    el compañero de clase (male classmate  la compañera de clase (female classmate
    el amigo (male friend  la amiga (female friend

    • However, other nouns are completely different for masculine and feminine forms.

    el hombre (man  la mujer (woman

    • Some nouns for people are identical, and the gender is shown only in the definite article. ¡OJO! A large number of words that identify members of professions or groups end in “-ista” and only distinguish gender by the article; these words end in “-ista” even if masculine.

    el estudiante (male student  la estudiante (female student
    el dentista (male dentist  la dentista (female dentist
    el optimista (male optimist) la optimista (female optimist)
    el anarquista (male anarchist) la anarquista (female anarchist)

    Remember! The gender of nouns that do not refer to people is an inherent characteristic that cannot be changed. If you change the gender ending of an inanimate object, you can be changing the meaning of the noun to another legitimate word in Spanish.

    • el caso (case  la casa (house
    • el puerto (port  la puerta (door
    • el Papa (the Pope  la papa (potato
    • el libro (book  la libra (pound

    Contributors and Attributions

    CC licensed content, Shared previously
    • Gramu00e1tica: Gu00e9nero de sustantivos. Authored by: SUNY Oneonta with Lumen Learning. Provided by: SUNY Oneonta. License: CC BY: Attribution

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