Nouns & Articles

In Spanish, all nouns have a gender, either masculine or feminine.  Sometimes this makes sense and sometimes it does not. However, there are a few guidelines that will help.

Masculine words usually end in -o or refer to something that is actually male. Feminine words tend to end in –a, –ción, –dad, or something that is female.

Examples of masculine nouns:

el libro the book
el hombre the man
el perro the dog
el chico the boy

Example of feminine nouns:

la chica  the girl
la mujer the woman
la casa the house
la ciudad the city
la canción the song

The articles for singular masculine nouns are el (the) and un (a).

el libro the book un libro a book
el hombre the man un hombre a man
el perro the dog un perro a dog
el chico the boy un chico a boy

 

The articles for plural masculine nouns are los (the) and unos (some).

los libros the books unos libro some books
los hombres the men unos hombre some men
los perros the dogs unos perro some dogs
los chicos the boys unos chico some boys

The articles for singular feminine nouns are la (the) and una (a).

la chica  the girl
la mujer la mujer
la casa the house
la ciudad the city
la canción the song
a chica  a girl
a mujer a woman
a casa a house
a ciudad a city
a canción a song

The articles for plural feminine nouns are las (the) and unas (some).

las chicas  the girls
las mujers the women
las casas the houses
las ciudades the cities
las canciones the songs
una chica  some girls
una mujer some women
una casa some houses
una ciudad some cities
una canción some songs

Since you often can’t tell if a noun is masculine or feminine just by looking at it, it is a good idea to always learn nouns with their articles. For example, if you want to know how to say “flower”, learn it as “la flor” as opposed to just “flor”. This way, you will automatically use the correct article and adjectives will be much easier.

One common exception to the “nouns that end in –a are feminine” rule are when the word starts with an a and that first syllable is stressed. In those cases you would use el instead of la. Keep in mind that the noun is still feminine.

el agua (the water) las aguas
el asma (the asthma) las asmas
el arca (the ark) las arcas
el águila las águilas
el ama de casa (the housewife) las amas de casa

Practice 1

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