Genders in Spanish - Masculine and Feminine Nouns

This lesson helps you to learn the gender of Spanish nouns

Each noun is either masculine or feminine in Spanish. But regrettably, the same as in most languages, there are no fixed rules to determine the gender safely. However there are certain clues that can help you to guess the gender of a noun, and most times you will be successful.
So as not to have to rely on your luck, we advise you to learn also the article for each Spanish noun, as it is a clear indication of its gender. Spanish articles (singular) are "el" for masculine nouns and "la" for feminine. This is the only way to learn the gender of a noun correctly. As a matter of fact, about 55% of all Spanish nouns in our dictionary are masculine.

Let's try to help you with some basic rules:

- Most words ending in -o are masculine: el dedo (the finger), el campo (the field)
- Most words ending in -a are feminine: la cara (the face), la hora (the hour, the time)
- Exception: It is to be noted however, that half the nouns ending in -ma are masculine: el idioma, el problema
- Nouns ending in "-dad" are feminine: la ciudad = the city
- Most nouns ending in "-ión" are feminine: la opción = the option; but in some cases they are masculine, as el avión = the aeroplane

There are no clues for words ending in consonants or in the vowel "e".

The following is a list with further exceptions, i.e. masculine nouns ending in "a" and feminine nouns ending in "o":

el poema (the poem), el clima (the climate),el idioma (the language), el mapa (the map), el tema (the theme), el problema (the problem), el programa (the programme), el día (the day)

la mano (the hand), la radio (the radio), la info (the Info), la foto (the photo)

One more confusing rule: All nouns starting with "a" and ending in "a" are feminine. However, to avoid the hyatus caused by saying for example "la águila", the masculine article "el" is used, but the feminine gender is kept for the adjective following the noun. Further examples of this case are: el alma (the soul), el arma (the weapon), el ala (the wing), el agua (the water)

And one last tip: Many feminine words ending in "o" are abbreviations of words taken from foreign languages,for example la info is the abbreviation of la información and la foto of la fotografía.