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Spanish language Spanish Stressed A - Feminine nouns with el or un

There's an interesting phenomenon in Spanish regarding feminine nouns that begin with a stressed A sound (which can be written either a or ha). When these nouns are singular and preceded directly by a definite article,* the masculine article is used instead of the feminine article you might expect.

Some common feminine stressed A words:

el acta act, record
el agua water
el águila eagle
el ala wing
el alba dawn
el alga seaweed
el alma woman, soul
el arca chest, box
el arma weapon
el aspa cross
el aula classroom
el ave bird
el hacha axe
el hada fairy
el hambre hunger

  

Notes:

*When dealing with an indefinite article, Spanish speakers will often use the masculine form in front of these words, but this is considered incorrect. It's only with the definite article that you should use the masculine form.

1. Despite the masculine article, these nouns are feminine, which means that everything but the singular article must agree with them, including:

Quiero ver el agua azul. I want to see the blue water.
¿Dónde están las aves? Where are the birds?
Tengo un arca muy bonita. I have a very pretty box.
No me gusta esta aula. I don't like this classroom.

2. When there is an adjective between the article and noun, the article is feminine:

Es la última arma. It's the last weapon.
¿Es una buena hada? Is it a good fairy?

  

Spanish gender exceptions     Grammar     Pronunciation

  

  

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