A Summary of Noun Gender in Spanish  

Nouns & Gender
In Spanish, the gender of the word used for people is usually the gender of the person as well.

Aside from being used with people, the following refer to non-people nouns in Spanish and their gender.

Gender of non-people nouns


Masculine
Feminine
Rule 1: masculine nouns end in –o
     ex:
el libro (book), el carro (car),
el huevo
(egg), el vestido (dress),
el suelo (floor), el techo (roof),
el polvo
(dust), el sombrero (hat)

exceptions:
     1. la mano (hand), la libido (libido), la radio (radio)
     2. some words are shortened from longer feminine versions:
     ex:
  • la fotografíala foto (photo)
  • la motocicletala moto (motorcycle)
  • la televisionla tele (television)
Rule 1: feminine words end in –a
     ex:
la casa (house), la paciencia (patience),
la oficina
(office), la vaca (cow),
la flauta
(flute), la camisa (shirt),
la carter
a (wallet), la guitarra (guitar)

exceptions:
     1. el alerta (alert), el día (day), el mediodía (noon),
          el sofá
(couch), el tranvía (tram)
     2. some words from Greek that end in -ma, -ta, & -pa
     ex:
  • el idioma (language), el problema (problem),
    el poema
    (poem), el tema (theme)
  • el planeta (planet), el cometa (comet),
  • el mapa (map)
Rule 2: Masculine nouns end in -e
     (-aje / -ambre
)*
      ex:
el equipaje (luggage), el paisaje (landscape),
el calambre (cramp), el enjambre (swarm)


exceptions:
el hambre** (hunger), la pelambre (thick hair)
Rule 2: Feminine nouns end in -e
     (-ie / -nte / -umbre)
*
      ex:
la serie (series), la superficie (surface)
la costumbre (custom), la cumbre (summit),
la incertidumbre
(uncertainty), la legumbre (vegetable),
la corriente (current), la fuente (fountain),
la ge
nte (people), la mente (mind)

exceptions:
el puente (bridge), el lente (lens)

Rule 3: masculine nouns end in -l
     ex:
el animal (animal), el árbol (tree),
el hospital
(hospital), el metal (metal),
el papel (paper), el material (material),

exceptions:
la cárcel (jail), la miel (honey), la piel (skin),
la sa
l (salt), la vocal (vowel)

Rule 3: feminine nouns end in -d
     ex:
la ciudad (city), la felicidad (happiness),
la juventud (youth), la libertad (freedom),
la pared
(wall), la salud (health), la verdad (truth)

exceptions:
el ardid (scheme), el ataúd (coffin), el césped (grass)
Rule 4: masculine nouns end in -n
     ex:
el balcón (balcony), el botón (button),
el carbón (coal), el colchón (mattress),
el corazón (heart), el examen (test),
el jabón
(soap),
el pan (bread)

exceptions:
la imagen (image), la razón (reason),
la sartén
(frying pan)


Rule 4: feminine nouns end in -ión
     ex:
la opinión (opinion), la canción (song),
la confusión (confusion), la nación (nation),
la relig
ión
(religion), la reunión (meeting)


exceptions:

avión (airplane), bastión (stronghold), camión (truck)
Rule 5: masculine nouns end in -r
     ex:
el amor (love), el color (color),
el error
(mistake), el favor (favor),
el pulgar (thumb), el valor (value)

exceptions:
la flor (flower), la labor (labor),

Rule 5: feminine nouns end in -z
     ex:
la cruz (cross), la faz (face),
la voz
(voice), la paz (peace),
la luz (light), la rigidez (stiffness),
la vejez
(old age), la vez (time)

exceptions
el arroz (rice), el haz (bundle),
el lápiz (pencil), el matiz (shade), el pez (fish)
Rule 6: masculine nouns end in -s
     ex:
el análisis (analysis), el autobús (bus),
el estrés
(stress), el gis (chalk),
 el interés (interest), el mes (month),
el país
(country) , el virus (virus)

exceptions:
     1. la diabetes (diabetes), la mies (harvest), 
         a res
(beef), la tos (cough)
     2. many words ending in -is        
  • la crisis (crisis), la dosis (dose),
    la sintaxis (syntaxis), la tesis (thesis)
     3 many words ending in -itis
     ex:
  • la artritis (arthritis), la apendicitis (appendicitis),
    la bronquitis (bronquitis)



Rule 7: Masculine nouns end in a stressed vowel
      ex:
el café (coffee), el champú (shampoo),
el rubí (ruby), el sofá (couch), el tisú (tissue)




Notas:
*There are many words that end with 'e' that don't appear to have any reason to have one gender or another.
masculine: el valle, el cine, el yate, el títere, el desaire, el aire, el desfile, el baile, el paquete, el banquete
feminine: la base, la calle, la carne, la clase, la fe, la fiebre, la frase, la leche, la llave, la nieve, la noche, la nube, la sangre, la sede, la suerte, la tarde, la torre

**'el hambre' is feminine but it uses 'el' before it to not lose the sound of the 'a'.  We also see this with words like 'el águila', 'el agua', 'el alma' as well as others.  This is because the stress is on the first a.  It isn't a problem in words like: la habitación (because the stress is on the 'o')



Words that change meaning with gender

Some words change meaning depending on their gender.  Look at the examples below.

Masculine

Feminine
el capital – capital (money)

el cólera – cholera

el coma – coma

el cometa – comet

el corte – cut

el cura – priest

el frente – front
  
el mañana – tomorrow

el orden – order (arrangement)

el papa – pope

el parte – message, report
 
el pendiente – earring
 
el pez – fish
 
el radio – radius, radium
 
la capital – capital (city)

la cólera – anger

la coma – comma 

la cometa – kite

la corte(king's/queen's) court

la cura – cure

la frente – forehead

la mañana - morning

la orden – order (command)

la papa – potato

la parte – part, portion
  
la pendiente – the hill or slope
 
la pez – tar

la radio – radio (some say “el radio”)



Animals

Many of the more common animals have both genders.
Masculine

el gato
(cat)
el perro (dog)
el caballo (stallion)
el carnero (ram)
el gallo (rooster)
el pato (duck)
el toro (bull)
el león (lion)
el venado (buck)

Feminine

la gata
(female cat)
la perra (female dog)
la yegua (mare)
la oveja (ewe)
la gallina (hen)
la pata (female duck)
la vaca (cow)
la leona (lioness)
la venada (doe)

Other animals are either masculine or feminine when talking about the animal (regardless of it's actual gender).
el chimpancé (chimpanzee)
el canguro (kangaroo)
el gusano (worm)
el gorila (gorilla)
el pez (fish)
el rinoceronte (rhinocerous)
el sapo (toad)
el tiburón (shark)

la abeja (bee)
la araña (spider)
la ardilla (squirrel)
la ballena (whale)
la mariposa (butterfly)
la serpiente (snake)
la jirafa (giraffe)
la rana (frog)
Nota:
if you want to talk about a male or female of on of the above you can place the words: macho (male) or hembra (female) after them to clarify.







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