Gender of Spanish nouns

Spanish nouns are either masculine or feminine. There is no neuter gender noun. The typical rules you can lean on and the exceptions you should be aware of are listed here.

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Masculine nouns have the article "el" in singular form and the article "los" in plural.

Feminine nouns have the article "la" in singular form and the article "las" in plural.

When a plural includes both masculine and feminine elements, the masculine noun is used with the article "los" (for example: parents are "los padres", children are "los niños" or "los hijos").

Feminine nouns

Generally nouns ending in "-a"

la fruta, la mesa, la palabra No Flash-player or not allowed.

See Masculine for exceptions!

Nouns ending in "-dad" / "-tad" / "-tud"

Nouns ending in "-ción" / "-sión" / "-gión"

Nouns ending in "-ez", as long as they refer to abstract nouns formed with suffixes

Nouns ending in "-triz"

la actriz, la directriz, la emperatriz No Flash-player or not allowed.

Nouns ending in "-umbre"

la costumbre, la incertidumbre, la legumbre No Flash-player or not allowed.

Shortened version of originally feminine nouns

* but when it refers to a disk, it's el disco

Nouns referring to women

Exceptions

ending in "-d"
  • la merced -- mercy
  • la pared -- wall
  • la red -- net
  • la salud -- health
  • la sed -- thirst
ending in "-z"
  • la cruz -- cross
  • la faz -- face
  • la luz -- light
  • la nariz -- nose
  • la nuez -- nut
  • la paz -- peace
  • la raíz -- root
  • la vez -- time, turn
  • la voz -- voice
other
  • la filial -- affiliate
  • la flor -- flower
  • la imagen -- image
  • la ley -- law
  • la mano -- hand
  • la miel -- honey
  • la piel -- skin
  • la sal -- salt
  • la tribu -- tribe
ending in "-e"
  • la base -- basis
  • la calle -- street
  • la carne -- meat
  • la clase -- class
  • la clave -- clue
  • la corriente -- current
  • la fe -- faith
  • la fiebre -- fever
  • la frase -- saying, phrase
  • la fuente -- source
  • la gente -- people (!)
  • la leche -- milk
  • la lente -- lens
  • la llave -- key
  • la mente -- mind
  • la muerte -- death
  • la nieve -- snow
  • la noche -- night, evening
  • la nube -- cloud
  • la sangre -- blood
  • la sede -- headquarters
  • la serpiente -- snake
  • la suerte -- fate, luck
  • la tarde -- afternoon
  • la torre -- tower

Masculine

In broad generality, all nouns not fitting into the above categories and exceptions - plus the following.

Nouns of Greek origin, ending in "-ma" / "-ta" / "-pa"

Exceptions

Different gender, different meaning

Some words can be used as either feminine or masculine but this will change their meaning. Some examples:

  masculine feminine
capital
cólera
coma
corte
cura
final
frente
orden
papa
parte
pendiente
pez
capital
cholera
coma
cut
priest
ending
front
order
pope
message, report
earring
fish
capital city
bile, anger
comma
court
cure
sports final
forehead
decree, holy order
potato
part, portion
slope, hillside
tar, pitch

Different gender, same meaning

Certain nouns, usually referring to people, can be used in the same meaning as either feminine or masculine, depending on who you refer to.

Feminine nouns with the article "el"

When a feminine noun begins with a stressed "a-" or "ha-" syllable, its singular form will have an "el" instead of "la" (and "un" instead of "una" as an indefinite article). In plural, it's back to normal.

* doubly irregular: a noun ending in "-e" with the article "el" - and still feminine :-)



Now, if you feel comfortable about Spanish nouns and their gender, or just want to see what has stuck, check out the noun gender test from our "Tests" section.

It has 100 questions - if that's too much in one, you can take it in 25-question parts: 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75 | 76-100

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