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, imparcial, 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, 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 -ión comunión, región, reunión
  -sion  -ión comisión, lesión, transmisión
  -tion   -ión 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. Nouns which end in a consonant, and some with a stressed vowel add - es.

                  mes -   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 an -x or unstressed vowel followed -s, 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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