Spanish Lessons - Gender

I'm arranging to have my friend who is from mexico record the Spanish, so that very soon, they'll be available online for you to press play buttons so you can hear the Spanish as well!

I'll let you know when that's ready.

In the meantime, lets get on with today's lesson. The Truth about the Sexes

In English, we do not call a chair 'he', nor do we call a bed 'she'. In Spanish and other latin-based languages, called Romance Languages, that rule doesn't apply. Since English is a mix of Latin- and Germanic-based languages, those rules don't apply. Lucky us!

It Spanish, objects, or nouns, are either feminine or masculine. Adjectives, or words that describe or enhance nounds, are feminine or masculine, depending upon the noun. We'll talk about that later. In the mean time, it's a certain fact that you'll have to accept while continuing your language studies.

Some examples:

Masculine Nouns:

El libro - ehl lee-bro (the book)
El rio - ehl ree-oh (the river)
El color - ehl koh-lohr (the color)
El doctor - ehl doc-tor (the doctor)

Feminine Nouns:

La cama - la kah-mah (the bed)
La arana - la arr-ah-nya (the spider)
La bolsa - la bowl-sah (the bag, purse)
La cominda - la koh-mee-dah (the food)


Rules for Feminine or Masculine Nouns

A Good Rule of Thumb:

From the above examples, you've probably deducted at least one rule of Spanish: if a word ends in 'o' it is masculine. Additionally, if it ends in 'a', it is feminine. Well, while this is a good rule of thumb, don't always trust it. We'll list some examples below. But, first, let's discuss some other 'rules of thumbs'.

Some nouns in Spanish do not end in an 'a' or an 'o'. That can be confusing because we may not know which article (a 'la' or an 'el') to put with a word. However, there are some easily memorized patterns that we can use to help us decide. (I wish someone would have pointed this out to me when I was learning Spanish!)

The L-O-N-E-R-S rule:
While we can call this a 'rule' it is not. It is a 'rule of thumb', meaning that it doesn't hold true in all circumstances. It only holds true for a majority of the time.

If a word ends in an L, O, N, E, R, or S, then most likely it will be a masculine noun. You will attach an 'EL' to the word to recognize its gender. And, let it be noted that in Spanish, articles are used much more often in everyday, regular speech.

If a word ends in 'a', 'dad', or 'ion', it is most likely a feminine noun.


Attach 'el' or 'la' by reading the following outloud. What do you think each word means?


  1. _____ aniversario (ahn-ee-verse-ar-ee-oh)
  2. _____ americano (ah-mer-ee-ca-noh)
  3. _____ jardin (har-DEEN)
  4. _____ diccionario (deek-see-na-ree-yoh)
  5. _____ restaurante (rest-ah-ran-tay)


  1. _____ asprina (ahs-pree-nah)
  2. _____ medicina (med-ih-see-nah)
  3. _____ medicina (med-ih-see-nah)
  4. _____ nacionalidad (nas-see-yoh-nah-lee-dad)
  5. _____ mansion (mahn-see-yohn)

Spanish Cognates

Words in Spanish that be spelled the exact same or similar to a word in English are called 'cognates'. We who are trying to learn Spanish are quite lucky because many cognates are shared between the two languages. If you guessed the meanings to the words above, then you already understand what we are getting at; many words in English and Spanish are cognates. So, you know a lot more Spanish than you thought! The key lies within the differing pronounciation.

Many Spanish words that begin with 'es' are cognates.


Especial - es-peh-see-yahl (special)
Estudiar - es-too-dee-yahr (to study)
Espacio - es-pah-see-yoh (space)
Espia - ehs-pee-yah (spy)


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