Recognizing The Gender of Spanish Nouns

Spanish nouns normally have either a feminine or a masculine form. This interesting feature makes them kind of different and challenging at the same time when compared to the way nouns are used in other languages. Luckily, there are some simple rules to recognize the gender of Spanish nouns, and we are certain that you will remember them easily with all the examples in this lesson. Let’s start…

The basic rules for the gender of Spanish nouns

As a general rule, we recognize the gender of Spanish nouns by looking at the word ending. Masculine words usually end in the vowels E or O like PADRE and MAESTRO, whereas Spanish feminine words end with the vowel A such as HERMANA and CASA. The picture below introduces some examples of common masculine and feminine nouns.

The gender of Spanish nouns - masculine or feminine words
El género de los sustantivos en español.

Recognizing Spanish masculine nouns: Los sustantivos masculinos

You will recognize Spanish masculine nouns, los sustantivos masculinos, because these words end in the letters -N, -O, -R, -S, -R, –L. Two examples of common masculine words are CORAZÓN (heart) and CARRO (heart). In addition, some masculine nouns end in the syllables –MA, -PA and –TA, just like the word PROBLEMA and MAPA. Know that there are also some Spanish feminine nouns that may end in -L and -MA such as: CÁRCEL (jail) and MAMÁ (mom).

There are always exceptions to the rules for the gender of Spanish nouns, so always pay attention to certain clues like the definite article or indefinite article that precedes the word, or even the subject pronoun that accompanies the noun. For instance, in the sentence “Él es mi papá“, the pronoun ÉL tell that we are talking about a masculine noun. In general, you will not see or listen to isolated words in the language so those words that accompany Spanish nouns will be the key to know their gender.

Some examples of sentences using a a list of Spanish masculine nouns

Carro (ends in -o) – El carro rojo es suyo
The red car is his
Corazón (ends in –o + -n) – Mi corazón está saludable
My heart is healthy
Color (ends in -o + -r) – Mi color favorito es el verde
Green is my favorite color
Planes (ends in -s) – Tengo planes para hoy
I have plans for today
Arte (ends in – e) – Amo el arte
I love art
Pincel (ends in -l) – Este es mi pincel
This is my brush
Mapa (ends in -pa) – Un mapa antiguo
An old map
Problema (ends in -ma) – Tenemos un gran problema
We have a big problem
Planeta (ends in -ta) – Es un planeta gigante
It is a giant planet

Identifying Spanish feminine nouns: Los sustantivos femeninos

Los sustantivos femeninos or Spanish feminine nouns usually end in the letters -A, -DAD, -TAD, -ED, -SION, -CIÓN, -DEZ, -TIS, -IZ and some end in -E too. Again, these endings are not absolute so you may find some Spanish masculine nouns ending in those letters as well.

Sentences using a list of Spanish feminine nouns

Casa (ends in -a) – Su casa es muy grande
Her house is very big
Amistad (ends in -tad) – Nuestra amistad es importante
Our friendship is important
Pared (ends in -ed) – La pared de la cocina
The kitchen’s wall
Misión (ends in -sión) – Esa es la nueva misión
That’s the new mission
Canción (ends in -ción) – ¿Te gusta la canción?
Do you like the song?
Honestidad (ends in -dad) – ¿Qué es la honestidad?
What’s honesty?
Actriz (ends in -iz) – Ella es actriz
She is an actress

Confusing Spanish nouns (invariant gender)

Finally, some nouns could be treated as masculine and feminine nouns. They are usually called SUSTANTIVOS INVARIABLES. The article or pronoun that is placed before them help us determine their gender and meaning. Some of them change their meaning depending on the article they are used with. For example, the noun CURA seems to be a feminine noun, but when add the article EL and say “El cura” then it becomes a priest, but if we add the feminine article LA then it becomes “La cura” (the cure). You can learn more with this video, which explains how a slight change in articles affects the meaning of words.

Sentences using Spanish invariant nouns

Estudiante (ends in -e) – Ella es estudiante
She is a student
Estudiante (ends in -e) – Él es estudiante
He is a student
Dentista (ends in -a) – Carlos es dentista
Carlos is a dentist

Grammar quiz: The gender of Spanish nouns - El género

This quiz is related to the rules for Spanish masculine and feminine nouns.  Make sure to check the rules again in case you need. You will get an interesting tip every time you find a correct answer. Press START to begin.


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