Chapter 2   --   Nouns and   Gender

In Spanish, all nouns (the names of places or things) have gender, that is, they are either feminine or masculine.   There are no neuter nouns.

With two exceptions, masculine nouns end in -o. The two exceptions are: la mano(the hand) and la radio (the radio).

Nouns which end in - aje, -l, -n, and -r are masculine (there are some exceptions). Nouns imported from other languages are masculine regardless of their spelling. Thus, problema (a Greek word), and hotel (an English word) are masculine. The days of the week, the months of the year, the names of oceans, seas, rivers, mountains, mountain chains, and most trees are masculine.

Feminine names end in -a, -ad, - ia, ía, ie, - ión, -ú, - ud, - umbre, or - za, and there are a few exceptions. The letters of the alphabet, the names of most fruits, the continents, and the names of cities are feminine.

Words which end with – ista take their gender from the article.   For example, el pianista means the piano player is a male; la pianista would denote a female.  

In all other cases, the gender must be memorized.

Due to the fact that many English and Spanish words have Latin or Greek origins, there are numerous similarities in spelling and meaning.   Some of the common forms follow.

                   English prefix        Spanish prefix       examples

                   ad-                         ad-                         admirar, admisible, admitir

                   bi-                          bi-                          bicicleta, bicultural

                   com-                      com-                      compacto, compañía, compensación

                   con-                       con-                       conexión, conferencia, conformar

                   de-                         de-                         delicado, demanda, denunciar

                   dis-                        dis-                        discutir, disgustar, dispensar

                   ex-                         ex-                         excavar, exclamar, exhalar, explorar

                   im-                         im-                         imitar, impactar, imponer, imposible

                   in-                          in-                          inclinar, inconsolable, indicación

                   irr-                         irr-                         irracional, irregular, irrigación

                   per-                       per-                        periodo, permitir, persona, pertinente

                   pre-                       pre-                        precepto, precisa, preferencia, preocupar

                   pro-                       pro-                       programa, prohibir, prolongar, promoción

                   re-                          re-                        rebelión, recuperar, reforma, respecto

                   sub-                       sub-                       subdividir, submarino, substituir

                   super-                   super-                     superior, supersecreto, supervisor

                   tran, trans-            tran, trans, tras-     tranquilo, transmisión, trasplante

                   tri-                         tri-                         triángulo, tridimensional, trilateral

                   uni-                        uni-                        unificar, uniforma, unión, universal


In like manner, the endings of words have many similarities.   A summary follows.

                   English ending       Spanish ending              examples

                   -age                       -aje                            coraje, linaje, visaje

                   -cracy                   -cracia                         democracia

                   -ency                     - encia                         dependencia, emergencia

                   -ic                          - ica, - ico                    aritmética, música, plástico

                   -ine                        - ina                            disciplina, máquina

                   -ion                                                            comunión, región, reunión

                  -sion                       -ión                              comisión, lesión, transmisión

                   -tion                                                           comunicación, creación, moción

                   -ism                       -ismo                            pluralismo, socialismo

                   -ist                         -ista                              organista, pianista

                   -ment                     - mento                         argumento, departamento

                                                -miento                          sentimiento

                   -tude                      - tud                              actitud, lasitud

                   -ty                         -dad, -tad                      familiaridad, libertad

Almost all of the technical words in English and Spanish are identical, with concessions to the respective spelling styles.

The Plural of Nouns

All words are pluralized in the following ways.

          1. If a word ends in a vowel, an -s is added

                   burro -   burros              madre -   madres            casa -   casas  

          2. If a word ends in és or a consonant other than s or x, the ending - es is added

                   més -   meses                  color -   colores               papel -   papeles

                   If a word ends in -z, the -z is changed to -c, and - es is added.

                   feliz -   felices                 lápiz -   lápices 

          3. If a word ends in -s or -x, nothing is added, but the article and any accompaning adjectives are changed.

                   el lunes  -  los lunes                el torax  -   los torax       el próximo lunes - los dos próximos lunes

There are no exceptions to these simple rules.


This book is available from under item number 3352644. Books purchased from Lulu are accompanied by a complete list of irregular verbs and all of their forms.

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