Nouns

Sustantivos

A noun is a word that represents a thing, either concrete (e.g., a chair, a dog) or abstract (an idea, happiness).

In Spanish, all nouns have a gender – they are either masculine or feminine. It is very important to learn a noun’s gender along with the noun itself because definite articles, indefinite articles, adjectives, and pronouns have to agree with nouns; that is, they change depending on the gender of the noun they modify or replace. The gender of some nouns makes sense (hombre f[man] is masculine, mujer [woman] is feminine) but others don’t (persona [person] is always feminine, even if the person is a man!) The best way to learn the gender of nouns is to make your vocabulary lists with the definite or indefinite article. That is, 

Rather than lists like this … 

  • libro = book
  • flor = flower     BAD LIST  ūüôĀ

Make lists like this …

  • un libro = book
  • una flor = flower     GOOD LIST  ūüôā

so that you learn the gender with the noun. The gender is part of the noun and you will be much better off learning it now, as a beginner, than trying to go back after years of study and memorizing the genders of all the words you’ve already learned (I speak from experience).

There are some tendencies in the gender of nouns, but there are always exceptions. I will list the patterns that I have noticed, but please don’t use these as a way to avoid learning the genders of nouns – just learn each word as gender + noun and then you’ll know them forever.

This ending…  is usually   
-o masculine } Exceptions
-a feminine
-aje masculine  
-ión feminine
-or masculine  
-tad feminine

Related lessons

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Les noms