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The gender of Spanish nouns: masculine and feminine

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The general rule states that all Spanish nouns are masculine or feminine.

Words ending in -o are generally masculine, while ones ending in -a are generally feminine. The articles which accompany a masculine noun are el (definite) / uno (indefinite), while the feminine ones are  la (definite) / una (indefinite)

Masculine nouns ending in -oFeminine nouns ending in -a
  • El / Un tío (uncle)
  • El / Un niño (child)
  • El / Un gato (cat)
  • El / Un pelo (hair)
  • La / Una tía (aunt)
  • La / Una falda (skirt)
  • La / Una boca (mouth)
  • La / Una hija (daughter)

General rules to recognize masculine nouns

Usually words with the following endings are masculine:

  1. -o;
  2. -a (-ía; -ma; -ama; -ema; -oma);
  3. -ambre / -aje;
  4. ón / -án. 

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1. Masculine nouns ending in -o

  • El bolígrafo (pen)
  • El zapato (shoe)

Besides, nouns that designate male beings generally end in -o.


  • El cartero (mailman)
  • El hermano (brother)

enlightenedHowever, nouns that designate male beings may have other endings: 


  • El profesor (male professor)
  • El hombre (man)

2. Masculine nouns ending in -a (-ía; -ma; -ama; -ema; -oma)

Although nouns ending in -a are mostly feminine, some of them are masculine. 

Note that nouns ending in -ía-ma-ama-ema-oma have similar spelling and meaning in both English and Spanish.


El día (day)


El clima (weather, climate)


El programa (programme)


El problema (problem)


El idioma (language)

3. Masculine nouns ending in -ambre and -aje

-ambreEl hambre (hunger)
-ajeEl lenguaje (language)

4. Masculine nouns ending in -or and -án

-orEl amor (love)
-ánEl refrán (proverb)

Masculine group of nouns

Certain groups of nouns are masculine.

Noun groupsExamplesEnglish translation
Days of weeks / months of the year

El lunes me voy a la universidad.

Éste ha sido un octubre lleno de sorpresas.

On Monday I'm going to university. 

This has been an October full of surprises.

Compound nouns 

El paraguas 

El lavavajillas




El azul

El amarillo



Infinitives as nounsEl hacer ejercicio es muy recomendable.Working out is advisable. 
Rivers / seas / oceansEl río Támesis está en Londres.The Thames River is in London.


enlightenedFruits are generally    feminine

El naranjo


La naranja

Orange tree



General rules to recognize feminine nouns

Usually words with the following endings are feminine:

  1. -a;
  2. -o;
  3. -dad / -tad;
  4. -ción / sión;
  5. -ie / -eza /-sis / -itis;
  6. -tud / -umbre.

1. Feminine nouns ending in -a

  • La rosa (rose)
  • La guitarra (guitar)

Besides, nouns which designate female beings generally end in -a


  • La maestra (female teacher)
  • La doctora (female doctor)

enlightenedHowever, nouns that designate female beings may have other endings: 


  La mujer (woman)

2. Feminine nouns ending in -o

Although nouns ending in -o are mostly masculine, some of them are feminine. Except for mano, most of them are abbreviations of compound nouns. 


  • Mano (hand)
  • Foto : fotografía (photo, photograph)
  • Moto : motocicleta (motorcycle)

3. Feminine nouns ending in -dad and -tad

-dadLa calidad (quality)
-tadLa amistad (friendship)

4. Feminine nouns ending in -ción and -sión

-ciónLa calefacción (heating)
-siónLa decisión (decision)

5. Feminine nouns ending in -ie / -eza /-sis / -itis

-ieLa serie (serie)
-ezaLa naturaleza (nature)
-sisLa crisis (crisis)
-itisLa laringitis (laryngitis)

6. Feminine nouns ending in -tud / -umbre

-tudLa virtud (virtue)
-umbreLa certidumbre (certainty)

Other endings for masculine and feminine nouns

-eusing for both masculine and feminine nouns

El examen (exam) 

La clase (class)






using for both masculine and feminine nouns designating individuals and professions


El/La atleta (athlete)

El/La cantante (singer)

El/La intérprete (interpreter)

El/la dentista (dentist) 






using for professions, animals, people


El inglés/La inglesa (Englishman/Englishwoman)

El campeón/La campeona (champion)

El profesor/La profesora (professor)



invariable nouns: the article does not change

El ángel (angel)

La victima (victim)

/invariable nouns: the article identify the gender

El/La turista (tourist)

El/La joven (young man/youngwoman)

enlightenedFeminine nouns which begin with a stressed -a or -ha take the masculine definite article in their singular form. 


  • El agua (water)
  • El hambre (hunger)

Other masculine and feminine group of nouns

The following goup of nouns include some common words: 

  • nouns referring to people or animals may have different forms for the masculine and feminine: 
Masculine formFemnine form
El actor (actor)La actriz (actress)
El padre (father)La madre (mother)
El marido / esposo (husband)La esposa (wife)
El padre (father)La madre (mother)
El príncipe (prince)La princesa (princess)
El héroe (hero)La heroína (heroine)
El rey (king)La reína (queen)
  • some nouns have a different meaning if used with the masculine or the feminine article: 
Masculine formFeminine form
El capital - capital (money)La capital - city
El corte - cutLa corte - court
El cura - priestLa cura - cure 
El editorial - newspaper editorialLa editorial - publishing house
El frente - frontLa frente - forehead
El guía - guideLa guía - female guide, telephone guide, guidebook
El policía - police officerLa policía - the police force



  1. The gender of Spanish nouns - Fill in the blanks
  2. Masculine and feminine endings practice quiz

The gender of Spanish nouns - Fill in the blanks

Masculine and feminine endings practice quiz

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