Gender of nouns in Spanish: Masculine or Feminine

One important difference between Spanish and English, is that in Spanish every noun has a gender: Masculine or Feminine.

The problem is, there is no way to 100% predict the gender of a noun when you read the word for the first time. There are, however, some general guidelines which can help you guess the gender of a noun. 

In this lesson we will cover these points:

  • 1. Some basic guidelines to guess the gender of a noun (+ exceptions)
  • 2. Influence of the gender in other words within the sentence.

 

1. Some basic guidelines to guess the gender of a noun (+ exceptions)

 

Words ending in “-o” tend to be MASCULINE

Examples: el dinero, el supermercado, el kiosco, el barco, el océano, el milagro…

But, there are exceptions, such as: la mano, la radio, la foto, la moto… 

 

Words ending in “-a” tend to be FEMININE

Examples: la mesa, la música, la guitarra, la cabeza, la filosofía…

But, there are exceptions, such as: el problema, el tema, el idioma, el clima, el fantasma, el día, el planeta, el mapa…

 

Words ending in “-dad” are always FEMININE:

Examples: la habilidad, la edad, la capacidad, la bondad, la sinceridad, la maldad….




2. Matching other words in the sentence to the noun’s gender

The noun is not alone in the sentence. Some of the other words within the sentence (Articles and Adjectives) need to match the gender and number of the noun they point to.

Take this sentence:

El niño pequeño está contento. = The small child is happy.

If instead of a child, we say the same about a girl, we need to match the article and also the two adjectives that point to the girl: small and happy. The result is:

La niña pequeña está contenta. = The small girl is happy.

 

Articles and adjectives need to match not only the gender, but also the number of the noun. If we say the plural “children”:

Los niños pequeños están contentos. = The small children are happy.

Or girls:

Las niñas pequeñas están contentas. = The small girls are happy.

 

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