8 Simple Rules for Mastering Spanish Gender (2023)

8 Simple Rules for Mastering Spanish Gender (1)

By lisa Last updated:

Everything in Spanish is either male or female.

The language is charged with gender power.

If two words are not paired correctly, the imbalance creates waves of discomfort in its users.

The following tips regarding Spanish gender will help train your brain to recognize, categorize and eventually produce gender accurately while speaking Spanish.


  • A noun is born: Male or female?
  • Living Creatures are referred to by the gender they represent
    • Rule #1
    • Rule #2
    • Beware of the gender trap!
  • The Masculine in Spanish
    • Rule #3
    • Rule #4
  • Nouns, Gender and Professions
    • Rule #5
  • Exclusive Endings
    • Rule #6
    • Rule #7
  • Exceptions That Create New Rules
    • Rule #8
  • Best Practices When Learning a Language

Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)

A noun is born: Male or female?

A noun is a person, place, thing or idea. Every noun in Spanish has a specific article that denotes the gender of the word. They can be definite or indefinite and have four forms:

masculine singular el
masculine plural los
feminine singular la
feminine plural las



el niñothe boyla niñathe girl
los niños the boys las niñas the girls


(Video) Spanish Gender Rules EXPLAINED ✅💡 Can You Follow These Falsos Femeninos?

el restaurantethe restaurant la casathe house
los restaurantes the restaurants las casas the houses


el papel the paperla mesa the table
los papelesthe papers las mesasthe tables


el pensamiento the thoughtla idea the idea
los pensamientos the thoughts las ideasthe ideas

Living Creatures are referred to by the gender they represent

This one is simple. Every living creature is either an el or a la.If you are an English speaker you have always referred to creatures withthe. The Spanish language is a lot more detailed in this respect. It loves to observe and categorize the differences. With this in mind, take note of the first two rules for mastering Spanish gender:

Rule #1

  • When speaking about living creatures, nouns that end in “o” are masculine.


el gato the male cat el perro the male dog
los gatos the male cats los perrosthe male dogs

el chicothe boy el osothe male bear
los chicosthe boys los ososthe male bears

el abuelothe grandfather el tíothe uncle
los abuelosthe grandparents los tíosthe uncles

Rule #2

  • When speaking about living creatures, nouns that end in “a” are feminine.


La gatathe female cat la perrathe female dog
Las gatasthe female cats las perrasthe female dogs

(Video) 🔴Identifying a Noun's Gender in Spanish: Mastering SPANISH gender 💪🏼

La chicathe girl la osathe female bear
Las chicasthe girls las osasthe female bears

Beware of the gender trap!

There is a slight possibility that you might fall into a “gender thinking trap.” This deception tricks you into thinking that everything associated with a male will automatically be masculine and everything associated with a female will automatically be feminine. This is false. Only distinct living creatures fall under this categorization.

The following examples clearly illustrate how objects commonly associated with each gender do not follow the rule.

  • la corbata→the necktie
  • el maquillaje→the makeup

To keep you from falling into this trap, a very important step you can take is to experience and interact with these nouns through authentic mass media, like movies, books, and TV shows.

You could also use a virtual immersion platform. FluentU, for example, has interactive captions on all of its videos, which will make it easier to see which gender is used in a given situation.

As you watch authentic Spanish videos like movie clips and news segments, you’ll have subtitles to support you. These subtitles come in Spanish and English, though you can turn either off as you wish. By clicking on any word, you can see a breakdown of its grammar, contextual definition, example sentences and other videos on FluentU where you can hear the word used with the same meaning.

Save words to flashcard decks so you can come back to them when you’re ready to review. Practice using these gendered words correctly through exercises that have you seeing the word in writing, hearing it spoken, typing it in and even speaking it. Get the iOS or Android app for mobile learning, or use FluentU in the browser.

So, be sure to get in your authentic Spanish practice to really get these genders down.

Ready for our last six rules?

The Masculine in Spanish

When there is a crowd or a group of people, animals, ideas or things that have a mixed gender, what gender is used?

If you answered, “the masculine gender is always used when there is a mixed group,” you are already thinking in the same direction as the Spanish language.

(Video) 8 rules to determine gender in Spanish

Rule #3

  • When there is a group of mixed gender, no matter what the ratio is of females to males and males to females, the group is always referred to as masculine.

1 niño + 4 niñas = 5 niños 1 boy + 4 girls = 5 kids
3 gatos + 542 gatas= 545 gatos 3 male cats + 542 female cats = 545 cats

The masculine gender has more power than the female gender when it comes to making the rules. Although the words have the same value, the male acts as the default leader. To make the word feminine you simply add the feminine “a” touch.

Rule #4

  • Masculine nouns that end in consonants (non-vowels) have a corresponding feminine form that ends in “a


el profesor→the male professor la profesora→the female professor
el doctor→ the male doctor la doctora→the female doctor
el señor →the Mr. la señora→the Mrs.

Nouns, Gender and Professions

Some nouns that refer to professions do not change their forms. This does not mean that the importance of gender disappears. If the word does not change, the article is in full charge of specifying gender.

Rule #5

  • Some nouns that refer to professions have the same form for masculine and feminine. The article is the only thing that changes.


el piloto→ the male pilot la piloto→ the female pilot
el soldado→ the male soldier la soldado→ the female soldier
el modelo→ the male model la modelo→ the female model
el poeta→ the male poet la poeta→ the female poet
el atleta→ the male athlete la atleta→ the female athlete
el psiquiatra→ the male psychiatrist la psquiatra→ the female psychiatrist

Optional brain exercise* Make a list of nouns that currently surround you (wherever you are) in English (you decide on how many you want to attempt). Try to guess their gender in Spanish. Look up the words and see how many you got right and what rules you recognize.

Exclusive Endings

Some words are exclusively reserved for female articles and others are exclusively reserved for male ones. These will admit no opposite intervention, ever! The use of masculine articles with exclusively feminine endings and vice-versa will disrupt and distort your communication.

Rule #6

  • Nouns that end in –sión, –ción, –dad, –tud and –umbre will always require the feminine article.


la exposición→the exhibition
la habitación→the room
la felicidad→the happiness
la solicitud→the application
la costumbre→the custom

Rule #7

  • Nouns that end in –ma require a masculine article


(Video) How to know if a Noun is Masculine or Feminine Spanish (Revised 2022)

el problema→the problem
el emblema→the emblem
el enigma→ the mystery

Exceptions That Create New Rules

Languages exist within a strict framework of rules, yet they are alive, they are dynamic, and the are continuously evolving. Therefore, there are always exceptions to the rules, and these exceptions, in turn, create new rules.

Rule #8

  • Some nouns that end in “a” are masculine
  • Some nouns that end in “o” are feminine



el día→ the day
el mapa→ the map
el cura→ the priest
el planeta→ the planet


la foto→ the photo
la mano →the hand
la radio →the radio
la moto →the motorcycle

Best Practices When Learning a Language

Remember, learning a new language is not a result but more of a process! It is important that you set a daily routine for your language learningthat excites you and allows you to see results.

As it relates to gender, familiarize yourself with the rules. Listen carefully for them when watching your favorite movies. While reading a comic ornewspaper, circle the gender agreements that most surprise you. Above all, find someone to practice with!

You will quickly catch on to the patterns, nuances and subtleties of the language this way. Think of how small children learn language for the first time. A ton of listening, a lot of gibberish, some clarity with mistakes, increase in vocabulary and finally fluency!

Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)


What is the rule for gender in Spanish? ›

Key Takeaways: Spanish Noun Gender

The most well-known rule or guideline is that nouns ending in -o are masculine and those ending in -a are feminine, but there are numerous exceptions to this gender rule, especially for those ending in -a.

How do you learn gender in Spanish? ›

Language Learning: Spanish Noun Gender Tips
  1. Use the O and A rule. In general, nouns ending with o are masculine and nouns ending in a are feminine. ...
  2. Remember the MA exception. ...
  3. Memorize genders for word endings. ...
  4. Always learn nouns with their articles. ...
  5. Pair words with adjectives as a memorization aid.

What are the rules for masculine and feminine? ›

  • Nouns ending in O are masculine.
  • Nouns ending in A are feminine.
  • Nouns ending in r or l are usually masculine.
  • Nouns referring to males are masculine.
  • Nouns referring to females are feminine.
  • Nouns ending in -ad, -ción and -sión are feminine.

What is the rule of feminine nouns in Spanish? ›

Feminine. The feminine (femenino): As a general rule, nouns ending in -a (casa 'house', boca 'mouth') and nouns which refer to females (madre 'mother', mujer 'woman, wife') are feminine. Similarly, the endings -ción, -sión, -dad, -tad, and -umbre indicate feminine gender.

What are the rules for pronouns in Spanish? ›

In Spanish, there are four forms for each pronoun: singular masculine, singular feminine, plural masculine and plural feminine.
Here are those possessive adjectives:
  • My: Mi, mis.
  • Your: Tu, tus.
  • His, her, its, their: Su, sus.
  • Our: Nuestro, nuestros, nuestra, nuestras.
  • Your (plural): Vuestro, vuestros, vuestra, vuestras.

How do you tell if you use El or la? ›

Definite Articles for Nouns

In most cases, el is used for masculine nouns and la is used for feminine nouns. Another rule supersedes this, and that is when the feminine noun is singular and starts with a stressed a- or ha- sound, like the words agua, meaning water, or hambre, meaning hunger.

What is an example of Spanish gendered language? ›

For example, el tema, el programa, el fantasma, el clima and el diploma. However, many words ending in -ma have a feminine gender: la cama, la broma, la norma, la rama, la fama, la yema, la estima, la espuma.

How do you address gender in Spanish? ›

Spanish often uses -a and -o for gender agreement in adjectives corresponding with feminine and masculine nouns, respectively; in order to agree with a gender neutral or non-binary noun, it is suggested to use the suffix -e.

What are 10 examples of common gender? ›

Common gender is a type of noun which denotes either male or female gender. It is a gender which can be applied to both the masculine and feminine gender. Examples of common gender are animal, artist, children, servant, enemy, pupil, neighbor, minister, doctor, employee, singer, peon, musician, dancer, etc.

What are the 4 types of gender? ›

In English, the four genders of noun are masculine, feminine, common, and neuter.

What is the 10 example of masculine? ›

100 examples of Masculine and Feminine
32 more rows

What are 2 ways to determine the gender of a noun? ›

Here are ways to determine a noun's gender.
  • Consult a dictionary. The most reliable way to learn the gender of a Spanish noun is to consult the word in a dictionary. ...
  • Check the gender of adjectives and determiners applied to that noun. ...
  • Check the noun's ending. ...
  • Sometimes a noun's gender depends on its meaning.

How do you remember Spanish demonstrative pronouns? ›

Marcela, a nonnative teacher of Spanish has a technique that makes coming up with the right form easy by remembering a short rhyme: 'This' and 'these' have Ts (referring to este, esta, estos, estas); 'that' and 'those' don't (referring to ese, esa, esos, esas).

How do you know if a word is masculine or feminine? ›

How do I know whether a word is masculine or feminine?
  1. If a noun refers to a male person it will be masculine, if it refers to a female person it will be feminine.
  2. Nouns with these endings will (generally) be masculine: -age. -ment. -il, -ail, -eil, -ueil. ...
  3. Nouns with these endings will (generally) be feminine:

Why are nouns gendered in Spanish? ›

Why do nouns have gender in Spanish? We can trace noun genders back to Proto – Indo – European roots, but there is no real reason as to why genders are assigned to nouns in romance languages and other germanic languages.

What are the rules for the nouns and articles in Spanish? ›

Remember that in Spanish the article needs to match the gender and number of the noun. For example, if you use a singular and feminine noun, your definite article must also be singular and feminine. El perro de Ana ladra mucho.

What are the 8 Spanish pronouns? ›

Gender of Spanish Subject Pronouns

Yo, tú, vos, usted, ustedes don't vary in gender; the others do. Ella, nosotras, vosotras, ellas are feminine; él is masculine; and nosotros, vosotros, and ellos can refer to a masculine or mixed group of people.

What are the 8 subject pronouns in Spanish? ›

The Spanish Subject Pronouns Explained: What They Are and How to Use Them
  • Yo — I.
  • Tú — You (informal)
  • Él (m.) / Ella (f.) — He/She.
  • Usted — You (formal)
  • Nosotros (m.) / Nosotras (f.) — We.
  • Vosotros (m.) / Vosotras (f.) — You (informal, plural)
  • Ellos (m.) / Ellas (f.) — They (plural)
  • Ustedes — You (formal, plural)
Nov 11, 2022

Is it el agua or la agua? ›

Is agua a feminine or masculine word? The answer is very easy. In front of the feminine names that begin with tonic vowel (the one with the accent) the article is used: El agua to avoid cacophony (sound ugly;)).

Is it el mano or la mano? ›

la mano: hand. el mañana: near future (but la mañana, tomorrow or morning) el mapa: map.

Why is Dias masculine? ›

Día is masculine because it comes from the Proto-Indo-European root *diéus, meaning 'Sky-god' (a masculine deity) or 'daytime sky'. It ended up with a final -a mostly because its immediate Latin progenitor, diēs, was the only masculine word in Latin's 'fifth declension' noun class.

What gender is problem in Spanish? ›

In Spanish, “problem” is “el problema”. As you can see, it's a masculine noun even though it ends with an “-a”. Usually, nouns with that ending are feminine and you have to add the definite article “la” or indefinite article “una” in front of them.

What are the gendered nouns in Spanish? ›

All the nouns in Spanish have genre, they are masculine or feminine. There are few rules that help us to decide what is the genre of the noun: – In general, all nouns that end in: -o, -ón and -r are masculine. – In general, all nouns that end in -a, -ción, -sión, -dad, -tad are feminine.

What are the two genders in Spanish? ›

Spanish nouns with two genders: masculine and feminine. Some Spanish nouns can have both genders (masculine and feminine) without a change of meaning according to different circumstances (e.g. geographical, register of the language etc.). Whether to use the masculine or feminine form is decided by the speaker.

How to reduce gender bias in the Spanish language? ›

If you want to reduce your gender bias in Spanish, there are many ways you can do this. The most radical way is to stop using the traditional endings entirely (-o, -os, -a and -as), and instead replace them with -e for singular and -es for plural. So, for example, you could say: les ciudadanes instead of los ciudadanos.

How do you use gender pronouns in Spanish? ›

“Él” translates to “he” and “ella” translates to “she.” Unlike English, which uses “they” for a group of people, Spanish uses the masculine and feminine: “ellos” or “ellas,” respectively. Spanish first person or second person pronouns (translated as “I” or “you”) are not gendered: “yo” and “tu” or “usted”.

How do you respectfully address a woman in Spanish? ›

Courtesy titles for women in Spanish are señorita and señora.

What are the 8 types of gender? ›

Gender Identity Terms
  • Agender. Not having a gender or identifying with a gender. ...
  • Bigender. A person who fluctuates between traditionally “male” and “female” gender-based behaviours and identities.
  • Cisgender. ...
  • Gender Expression. ...
  • Gender Fluid. ...
  • Genderqueer. ...
  • Gender Variant. ...
  • Mx.

What are 8 examples of common gender? ›

Common Gender:

A noun given to either a female or a male, which is commonly used for both feminine and masculine gender, is called a common noun. Words like a parent, friend, child, servant, enemy, thief, cousin, baby, student, writer, teacher, etc.

What are the 7 gender types? ›

Through these conversations with real people Benestad has observed seven unique genders: Female, Male, Intersex, Trans, Non-Conforming, Personal, and Eunuch.

What are the 5 types of sexes? ›

In a 1993 paper titled "The Five Sexes", Fausto-Sterling laid out a thought experiment considering an alternative model of gender containing five sexes: male, female, merm, ferm, and herm.

How many sexes are there? ›

Based on the sole criterion of production of reproductive cells, there are two and only two sexes: the female sex, capable of producing large gametes (ovules), and the male sex, which produces small gametes (spermatozoa).

What are the 5 genders? ›

In contrast to the gender binary, Bugis society recognizes five genders: makkunrai, oroané, bissu, calabai, and calalai.

What is feminine of God? ›

Human beings are biologically male and female, but not God, because the divine does not have a body. The application of masculine and feminine gender to the divine is simply metaphorical and grammatical. God is spirit who is both male and female and neither.

What is masculine gender Give Five example? ›

MasculineFeminineGender neutral
6 more rows

What is an example of masculine and feminine gender roles? ›

For example, girls and women are generally expected to dress in typically feminine ways and be polite, accommodating, and nurturing. Men are generally expected to be strong, aggressive, and bold. Every society, ethnic group, and culture has gender role expectations, but they can be very different from group to group.

What are the 4 ways of identifying nouns? ›

Tips to Easily Identify Nouns
  • Determiners. A determiner is a short word that signals the approach of a noun. ...
  • Capital Letters. In English grammar, certain words are often used in a capitalized form; many of such words are nouns. ...
  • Inflection. ...
  • Preposition.

What are the three genders Latin? ›

There are three Genders in Latin: Masculine, Feminine, and Neuter. 30. The gender of Latin nouns is either natural or grammatical.

How do you explain gender to students? ›

Here are a few key concepts about gender that you may want to touch on.
  1. Everyone's gender is unique to them. ...
  2. Things, like toys and clothes, don't have genders - people have genders.
  3. You can't tell a person's gender just by looking at them.
  4. Your body doesn't determine your gender.

What is the best strategy for learning the gender of a noun? ›

What is the best strategy for learning the gender of a noun? Learn the gender along with each noun and practice, practice, practice! If a language does not use determiners/articles, context or other words will tell you whether a noun is singular or plural. Grammatical gender relates to the biological sex of a noun.

What are the 8 demonstrative adjectives in Spanish? ›

Here are the corresponding demonstrative pronouns:
  • este (this one – masculine) estos (these ones – masculine) esta (this one – feminine) ...
  • ese (that one – masculine) esos (those ones – masculine) esa (that one – feminine) ...
  • aquel (that one over there – masc.) aquellos (those ones over there – masc.)

What is the fastest way to memorize Spanish verbs? ›

But you're free to choose how you want to do it.
  1. Create Lots of Conjugation Charts. ...
  2. Write Short Paragraphs with All the Conjugation Forms. ...
  3. Record Yourself Conjugating Verbs. ...
  4. Write Your Own Conjugation Song. ...
  5. Sing Someone Else's Conjugation Song. ...
  6. Practice Conjugation with a Fluent Spanish Speaker. ...
  7. Read Plenty of Spanish Books.
Feb 6, 2023

What are the 7 Spanish direct object pronouns? ›

The eight direct object pronouns are: me, te, lo, la, nos, os, los, las.

Do you use feminine Spanish when talking to a girl? ›

Although feminine words as a general rule refer to females, and masculine words to females, it is possible to do the opposite. The words for man and woman, hombre and mujer, respectively, are the gender you'd expect, as are words for girl and boy, chica and chico.

What are the rules for gender number agreement when they are used as adjectives in Spanish? ›

In Spanish, adjectives must agree with the noun (or pronoun) they describe in gender and in number. This means that if the noun an adjective describes is feminine, the adjective must be feminine, and if that same noun is also plural, the adjective will be feminine AND plural as well.

What are the 12 Spanish pronouns? ›

The 12 Personal Subject Pronouns of Spanish
  • yo — I.
  • tú — you (singular familiar)
  • usted — you (singular formal)
  • él, ella — he, she.
  • nosotros, nosotras — we.
  • vosotros, vosotras — you (plural familiar)
  • ustedes — you (plural formal)
  • ellos, ellas — they.
Aug 7, 2019

What is the correct order for pronouns in Spanish? ›

As for their placement in relation to the verb, the general placement rules apply, so both indirect and direct object pronouns precede conjugated verbs (except with the affirmative imperative) or follow non-conjugated verbs, written as only one word in the latter case.

What are 3 examples of pronouns in Spanish? ›

1. Subject Pronouns
  • yo (I)
  • tú/usted (you – informal/formal)
  • él/ella (he/she)
  • nosotros/nosotras (we)
  • vosotros/vosotras (you – plural, informal)
  • ustedes (you – plural, formal)
  • ellos/ellas (they)
Dec 27, 2022

How many genders are there in Spanish? ›

Spanish has two grammatical genders, which are known as "masculine" and "feminine". Just as a word can be singular or plural, it can also be masculine or feminine. Sometimes it is obvious which gender a word is, such as the words for man and woman.

Is it loco or Loca? ›

"loco", pronounced [ lˈə͡ʊkə͡ʊ] is a Spanish word that indicated or means: crazy, insane. It is masculine gender, "loca" is feminine. In English -- specifically in American English due to the influence of Spanish. It can be used for the word "crazy".

How do you tell a girl she is pretty in Spanish? ›

  1. Hermosa / Hermoso – Beautiful. A common way to say “You are beautiful” in Spanish. ...
  2. Bella / Bello – Pretty. ...
  3. Bonita / Bonito – Pretty or Nice. ...
  4. Preciosa / Precioso – Gorgeous or Precious. ...
  5. Guapa / Guapo – Handsome. ...
  6. Linda / Lindo – Lovely. ...
  7. Adorable – Adorable. ...
  8. Atractivo / Atractiva – Attractive.
Sep 2, 2022

What is the main rule in Spanish to determine if a word is masculine or feminine? ›

Masculine nouns are used with articles like el or un and have adjectives that end in -o, while female nouns use the articles la or una and have adjectives that end in -a. To know if a noun is masculine or feminine, you should look to see what letter(s) the word ends with.

What are the basic rules for changing the endings of our adjectives in Spanish? ›

Singular Spanish adjectives will always end in -z, -r, l, -e, or -o/-a. The most common Spanish adjective ending by far is the -o/-a variety. It ends in -o in its masculine form, and it ends in -a in its feminine form. Plural Spanish adjectives will always end in -s, whether it's -es, -os, or -as.

What are the rules for making adjectives plural in Spanish? ›

Adjectives ending in a consonant in the masculine or feminine singular add -es in the plural. If there is an accent on the FINAL syllable in the singular, they lose it in the plural. -z at the end of a singular adjective changes to -ces in the plural.


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