Spanish Gender

August 20, 2008 by

Gender is Spain – EL, LA and LO

All nouns in Spanish are either masculine or feminine.

They take the article “el” and “la” respectfully, and they are placed in front of the noun.

The Spanish don’t have neutral nouns.

–but there is a neutral form of the article. i.e. (‘lo’), ( the).

It is used before an adjective to express quality.

For example;

lo malo = the worst,

lo mejor = the best,

Nouns ending in (o) are usually masculine while nouns ending in (a) are feminine.

Masculine examples are;

el numero= the number, el caballo= the horse, el burro = the donkey, el palo= the  stick.

Female examples are;

la señora = the lady, la flora= the flower, la cara= the face, la escoba= the broom.

A noun which refers to people may be used with reference to both sexes and in these cases the

masculine form is always used.

For example;

the plural of el hijo (son) is los hijos.

Los hijos may mean either sons only, or it may mean sons and daughters (i.e. together).

There may be a group of children and if this group consists of boys and girls then the

Spanish masculine form ( los hijos ) is used.

Further more,  even if a group consists of only one boy amongst two, or many girls, then the

Spanish masculine form (los hijos) is used.

To make the Spanish noun plural;

you add an ‘s’ to the end of the word if it ends in a vowel (a,e,i,or,u), or  you add ‘es’ to the end of the word if it ends in a consonant (b,c,d,f,g,h, etc.).

The Spanish article (el) and (la) must conform and take the plural form as well.

The Spanish feminine article conforms, (la) becomes (las),

For example;

La señora  becomes  las señoras.

- but take note of  the radical change in the form of  the Spanish masculine article – (el) becomes (los).

For example;

El  nombre changes to los nombres.

Some noun endings do not conform with this and do not easily indicate their gender.

There are not too many exceptions, but some examples are;

el pasaporte  =  the passport, el nombre = the name, la mono = the hand, la moto = the motor scooter

Therefore it is advisable to learn each word with it’s own corresponding article.

We English are not used to forming sentences whilst thinking of the gender of each noun and as you have seen the article

(el, la or lo) is always before the noun. So we need to think ahead at first, to get it correct, until it becomes automatic

to us.

Student’s can often make mistakes regarding the correct gender, mixing (el) for (la), in even  those nouns that do conform.

Usually they realize their error immediately afterwards and  correct it straight away in their mind, or better still, repeat

it out loud.

Don’t worry too much about that.  You will be understood, as the Spanish won’t be confused by his error.

They will appreciate that you are making an effort to speak their language.

Spanish nouns ending in; — ( ad, ud, ie, and ión )  are usually feminine ,

some examples are;

la ciud ad =  the city, la juvent ud = the youth, la ser ie =  the series,  la habitac ión = the room.

Spanish nouns ending in — ( e, el ,il, ón, iz ) are generally masculine .

Some examples are;

el timbr e = the bell, el pap el = the paper, el barr il = the barrel, el buz ón = the letter box, el lap iz = the pencil

Spanish nouns ending in; — ( ista ) can be either masculine or feminine .

Some examples are;

el period ista (masculine) and la period ista (feminine) = the journalist.

el dent ista (masculine) or la dent ista (feminine) = the dentist.

As you can see in our examples, they are quite often names of professions,   but note;

el doctor (masculine) and la doctora (feminine),

el profesor (masculine) or la profesora (feminine).

Once again, it is advisable to learn each word with it’s own corresponding article.

There are not too many exceptions of this either.

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