Is the word “agua” masculine or feminine in Spanish?
That’s a question many Spanish learners ask themselves, and we will answer it in this lesson.
In Spanish, there are a few nouns which, despite being feminine, are sometimes preceded by the masculine articles el and un.
In this lesson we will learn exactly when that happens, providing examples.
At the end you’ll find an Exercise for practice.
Which nouns have this?
This phenomenon happens to every feminine noun that has the following 2 characteristics at the same time:
- The feminine noun begins with “a” or “ha”
- That first “a” is the stressed vowel in the noun
Here’s a list of the most frequent nouns where it happens:
el agua water
el águila eagle
el ala wing
el alba dawn
el alma soul
el ama de casa housewife
el ancla anchor
el arma weapon
el arpa harp
el asma asthma
el aula classroom
el ave bird
el habla spoken language
el hacha axe
el hambre hunger
When do we use “el” and “un”?
As we have said, the feminine nouns in this lesson sometimes have a masculine article (el or un).
But for that to happen, the sentence needs to meet the following conditions:
- The noun has to be in singular form
- There can be no word between article and noun
El agua está fresca.
The water is cool.
El águila es grande y poderosa.
The eagle is big and powerful.
Esta es un arma muy moderna.
This is a very modern weapon.
If those conditions are not met, we revert to feminine articles
For example, if the noun is plural:
Las hablas de esta región son muy extrañas.
The spoken languages of this region are very strange.
Son unas amas de casa muy simpáticas.
They are very friendly housewives.
Or if there are words between article and noun:
Ella bebe la fría agua del río.
She drinks the river’s cold water.
El guerrero tiene una gran hacha.
The warrior has a big axe.
Adjectives connected with these nouns: always feminine
If there are adjectives in the sentence that are connected to these nouns, those adjectives are always in feminine form, even in the case where the article is masculine:
el águila es muy bonita.
the eagle is very beautiful.
un alma sincera
a sincere soul
This includes demonstrative adjectives, which are always feminine for this nouns, never masculine.
For example, it is “esta agua”, not “
The following sentences include nouns we have studied in this lesson.
Fill the gaps choosing between “el – la – los – las”:
Me gusta ___ (1) agua de esta fuente.
I like the water from this fountain.
___ (2) armas de este ejército son muy modernas.
The weapons of this army are very modern.
___ (3) arma de ese policía es una pistola.
That policeman’s weapon is a pistol.
___ (4) águila es un animal fascinante.
The eagle is a fascinating animal.
___ (5) inteligente águila busca una presa.
The clever eagle looks for prey.
___ (6) águilas son animales majestuosos.
Eagles are majestic animals.
___ (7) clara agua de este río inspira a muchos artistas.
The clear water of this river inspires many artists.