Spanish Grammar Rules Exceptions  

1. Words of Greek etymology ending in _ma_--

El dilema (the dilemma)
El diploma (the diploma)
El epigrama (the epigram)
El problema (the problem)
El síntoma (the symptom)
El telegrama (the telegram)

etc., etc.

But La amalgama (the amalgamation)
La diadema (the diadem)
La estratagema (the stratagem)
La proclama (the proclamation)

2. Most of the compound nouns (very few in number)--

El cortaplumas (the penknife)
El guardacosta (the coasting-vessel)
El paraguas (the umbrella)
El tirabala (the popgun)

3. El día (the day)

El Etna (Etna (volcano))
El mapa (the map)
El sofá (the sofa)
El Volga [210] (the Volga)
And all words ending in accented _a_.

[Footnote 210: And all rivers and mountains ending in _a_.]

4. Masculine nouns ending in _d_--

El adalid (the warrior or chieftain)
El ardid (the trick)
El ataúd (coffin)
El césped (the turf, lawn)
El sud (the south)

5. Masculine nouns ending in _ión_--

El embrión (the embryo)
El gorrión (the sparrow)
El morrión (parts of an armour)
El sarampión (measles)

6. Feminine nouns ending in _i_ or _y_--

La diócesi (the diocese)
La grey (the flock)
La ley (the law)
La metrópoli (the metropolis)

Almost all.

7. Feminine noun ending in _j_--

La troj (the granary)

8. Feminine nouns ending in _l_--

La cal (lime)
La capital (capital--town)
La cárcel (prison)
La col (cabbage)
La miel (honey)
La piel (skin)
La sal (salt)
La señal (signal)
La vocal (vowel)

And a few more.

9. Feminine nouns ending in _n_--

La cargazón (the load)
La crin (the horsehair)
La desazón (the ailment)
La imagen (the image)
La razón (the reason)
La sinrazón (the injustice)
La sartén (the frying-pan)
La sien (the temple)

Almost all.

10. Feminine nouns ending in _o_--

La mano (the hand)

Only word, excepting "nao" (ship), now obsolete, and "seo" (cathedral),
little used.

11. Feminine nouns ending in _r_--

La flor (the flower)
La labor (the needlework)
La segur (the axe)

Almost all.

12. Feminine nouns ending in _s_--

La bilis (the bile)
La crisis (the crisis)
La elipsis (ellipsis)
La lis (fleur-de-lis)
La mies (the crop)
La perífrasis (the periphrase)
La tos (the cough)

And a few others.

13. Feminine noun ending in _u_--

La tribu (the tribe)

14. Feminine nouns ending in _z_--

La codorniz (the partridge)
La cerviz (the cervix)
La cruz (the cross)
La coz (the back-kick)
La luz (the light)
La nariz (the nose)
La nuez (the nut)
La pez (the pitch)
La voz (the voice)
La raíz (the root)
La tez (the complexion)
La vez (the time, once, etc., etc.)

And a few others less important.

15. Feminine nouns ending in _e_. (This is the most numerous list of exceptions)--

Las aves (the birds)
La barbarie (the barbarity)
La base (the basis)
La calle (the street)
La carne (the flesh)
La fiebre (the fever)
La fuente (the fountain)
El hambre (_f._), (the hunger)
La mente (the mind)
La noche (the night)
La parte (the part)
La quiete (the quiet)
La sangre (the blood)
La serpiente (the serpent)
La torre (the tower)

Besides the masculine and feminine genders, some nouns are called: de
género común, epiceno, and ambiguo. The noun is called "de género común"
(common gender) when with the same termination it may indicate both a
male and female being by using a different article--

Un--una albacea (an executor, executrix)
Un--una artista (an artist, artiste)
Un--una Belga[211] (a Belgian)
Un--una idiota (an idiot)
Un--una indígena (a native)
Un--una mártir (a martyr)
Un--una reo (a culprit)
Un--una culpable (a culprit)
Un--una gimnasta (a gymnast)
Un--una homicida (a murderer, a murderess)
Un--una suicida (one who commits suicide)
Un--una testigo (a witness)

[Footnote 211: And so all nouns of nationality ending in _a_ or _e_.]

The noun is called Epicene when, with the same termination and the same
article, it indicates both male and female--

El águila (the eagle--male and female)
El buitre (the vulture--male and female)
El avestruz (the ostrich--male and female)
La rata (the rat--male and female)

Distinction would be made by adding "macho" or "hembra."

El águila macho (the eagle--male)
El avestruz hembra (the ostrich--female)

N.B.--Most of the names of animals belong to this class.

The term "ambiguo" is applied to nouns which are masculine or feminine,
with different meaning, or the gender of which is not well defined--

Análasis (analysis), doubtful gender
El aroma (the aroma) La aroma (the acacia flower)
La _or_ el arte (the art) Los _or_ Las artes
Las bellas artes (the arts, generally _fem_.)
(the fine arts, always _fem_.)
La barba (the beard) El barba (a character in Spanish
El cabecilla (chieftain or ringleader La cabecilla (the little head)
of rebels)
El calavera (the madcap) La calavera (the skull)
El canal (the canal) La canal (the gutter)
El capital (money) La capital (the town)
El cólera (cholera) La cólera (wrath)
El cometa (comet) La cometa (the kite, _toy_)
El corte (the cut) La corte (the court)
El cura (the priest) La cura (the cure)
El doblez (the fold) La doblez (duplicity)
El _or_ la dote (dowry), generally Las dotes (good parts, gifts),
_fem_. in the _pl_. always _fem_.
El fantasma (the phantom) La fantasma (the bogie-man)
El frente (the front) La frente (the forehead)
El haz (the sheaf) La haz (face, surface)
Lente (lenses), doubtful gender
La orden (command, order for El orden (order); as, buen orden
goods, etc.) (good order)
Las sagradas órdenes (holy orders) Las varias órdenes (various religious
El parte (report) La parte (part)
El pendiente (ear-ring) La pendiente (slope)
El pez (fish) La pez (pitch)
El tema (exercise, theme) La tema (fear, obstinacy)
Tilde (~), doubtful gender

"Mar" (sea) is either Masc. or fem., but names of particular seas are
all masculine--

El mar rojo (the Red Sea)
El mar Caspio (the Caspian Sea)

The compounds of "mar" are feminine--

Baja mar (low sea)
Pleamar (high water)

The following masculine nouns have their equivalent feminine formed by

N.B.--We omit those in which the inflexion consists of the change of the
last vowel to _a_, or the addition of _a_, as--

El autor, la autora (the author, authoress)
El holgazán, la holgazana (the lazy man, lazy woman)
El primo, la prima (the cousin, _masc._ and _fem._)
El vecino, la vecina (the neighbour, _masc._ and _fem._)

El abad (abbot) La abadesa (abbess)
El actor (actor) La actriz (actress)
El barón (baron) La baronesa (baroness)
El canónigo (canon) La canonesa (canoness)
El cantor (singer) La cantatriz (singer)
El conde (count) La condesa (countess)
El diacono (deacon) La diaconisa (deaconess)
El duque (duke) La duquesa (duchess)
El elector (elector) La electriz (electress)
El emperador (emperor) La emperatriz (empress)
El filósofo (philosopher) La filosofesa (philosopher)
El gallo (cock) La gallina (hen)
El héroe (hero) La heroína (heroine)
El poeta (poet) La poetisa (poetess)
El principe (prince) La princesa (princess)
El profeta (prophet) La profetisa (prophetess)
El rey (king) La reina (queen)
El sacerdote (priest) La sacerdotisa (priestess)
El vizconde (viscount) La vizcondesa (viscountess)
El Zar (czar) La Zarina (czarina)

Notice also--

El asistente (assistant) La asistenta (assistant)
El infante (child under 7; La infanta (child; Span. Royal
also Span., Royal Prince) Princess)
El pariente (relative) La parienta (relative)
El presidente (president) La presidenta (president)
El sirviente (manservant) La sirvienta (maidservant)

There are only a few more of this class.


Un abogado makes in the fem. Una muger abogado
Un médico " " " " " médico
Un comadrón " " " " comadre (midwife)

The following nouns of persons and animals have two different forms to
represent the two sexes--

El buey (ox) La vaca (cow)
El caballo (stallion) La yegua (mare)
El carnero (ram) La oveja (ewe)
El fraile (friar) La soror (sister)
El hombre (man) La muger (woman)
El macho cabrío or cabrón (he-goat) La cabra (she-goat)
El marido (husband) La muger (the wife)
El padre (father) La madre (mother)
El padrastro (step-father) La madrastra (step-mother)
El padrino (god-father) La madrina (god-mother)
El toro (bull) La vaca (cow)
El yerno (son-in-law) La nuera (daughter-in-law)

Many names of animals are either common, as--

El ánade, la ánade (the duck)
El liebre, la liebre (the hare)
El tigre, la tigre (the tiger, tigress)

Or they change _o_ of the masculine into _a_ or add _a_, to form the
feminine, as--

Un ganso (a gander) Una gansa (a goose)
Un león (the lion) Una leona (a lioness)
Un mulo (a mule) Una mula (a she-mule)
Un pollino (an ass) Una pollina (a she-ass)

Most are epicene as already stated (p. 246).

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