Unit 1.2

Noun gender

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Introduction

Nouns [sustantivos] are words used to name people, things, and animals with gender and number.

Nouns gender [género de los sustantivos] can be masculine or femenine.

Form

The noun is placed:

  • after a determiner (this can be an article, a possessive, a demonstrative…);
  • before an adjective when it is accompanied by it.

The gender of nouns can be masculine or feminine and is linked to their ending. There are general rules that indicate the masculine or feminine gender of a noun.

Masculine

They are usually male:

  • nouns ending in -o: chico, hijo, libro…;
  • nouns ending in a consonant -ar, -er, -or/ an, -en, -in, -on, -un (tónicas): profesor, director, ladrón, pan
  • nouns ending in -aje: viaje, paisaje…

Feminine

They are usually feminine:

  • nouns ending in -a: chica, hija, casa, profesora, directora, ladrona…;
  • nouns ending in -o that are derived from an abbrevation: la foto (fotografía), la moto (motocicleta), la radio (radiodifusión).
  • nouns ending in -ción and –sión: canción, relación, traducción, prisión, televisión…;
  • nouns ending in -dad y -tad: bondad, ciudad, libertad, amistad…

Masculine / Femenine

In some cases, the gender of nouns cannot be known from the form of the word.

Nouns ending in a vowel (except –o o –a) or in a consonant can be either masculine or femenine: el chistela clase, el solla catedralla decisiónel melocotón

Heteronomy

The heteronyms nouns are words that denote each gender in a completely different way: el hombre / la mujer, el padre / la madre

Example

Masculine:

  • El camarero está poniendo las mesas.
  • El director es el dueño de la empresa.

Femenine:

  • La camarera está sirviendo unas tapas.
  • La foto de la ingeniera ha salido borrosa.

Masculine / Femenine:

  • El estudiante lleva muchos libros.
  • La estudiante está en la biblioteca.

Heteronomy:

  • El caballo se dedica a tirar de los carros.
  • La yegua trabaja en el campo.

 

Use

The noun is used to name persons, things, or abstract concepts.

Noun gender allows for grouping into masculine and feminine nouns.

Summary

 Nouns are used to name something or someone and have gender (masculine, feminine) and number (singular, plural).

In Spanish, the gender of a noun usually depends on its ending:

  • masculine: -l (papel), -o (grupo), -n (pan), -e (tomate), -r (amor), -s (lunes);
  • feminine: -a (casa), -d (universidad), -ón (televisión), -z (nariz), -is (crisis), -ie (serie).

Although most masculine nouns end in -o and feminine nouns end in -a, there are exceptions.

For example:
—”el papel blanco”=masculine noun ending in -l;
—”el techo blanco”= masculine noun ending in -o;
—”la casa bonita”= feminine noun ending in -a;
—”la voz bonita”= feminine noun ending in -z.

Check the contents of the {Form} section. Then move on to the {Example} section, which shows you the usage in context.

Exercises


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