Spanish Nouns
Language Resources

Just as in English, nouns in Spanish designate a people, places, things and concepts. For example:

  • Person: girl, father, doctor, Mark
  • Place: house, China, mountain
  • Thing: computer, photograph, coffee
  • Concept: happiness, intelligence

Unlike their English counterparts, however, all Spanish nouns are either masculine or feminine. This idea may seem confusing to many English speakers, but in reality many languages assign masculine or feminine status to nouns. How do you know whether a noun is masculine or feminine? Luckily, the noun gives us a few hints.

Spanish Nouns: Masculine or Feminine?

While every rule has an exception or two, you can generally determine whether a given noun is a he or a she based either on the noun itself or on its ending. To begin, nouns that refer to male beings (man, male dog, paperboy, etc.) are logically masculine and are preceded by masculine pronouns. Following suit, female beings (woman, tigress, girl, etc.) feminine and are therefore preceded by feminine pronouns (la, las, una, unas).

Spanish Noun Endings
Secondly, you can often determine a noun's gender by simply looking at the word and seeing how it ends. While there's generally an exception or two to every rule, certain endings (-a, -ción, -sión, -ad, -ez) indicate a feminine noun, while others (-o, -ma, -other consonants) indicate a masculine noun. See the examples below:

Words with the following endings are almost always feminine:

Words ending in: Example:
-ala vaca (cow), la cerveza (beer)
-ción / -sión la imaginación (imagination), la tensión (tension)
-adla verdad (truth), la realidad (reality)
-ezla niñez (childhood), la estupidez (stupidity)

Words with the following endings are almost always masculine:

Words ending in: Example:
-oel barco (boat), el soldado (soldier)
-mael programa (program), el sistema (system)
-any other consonant el pan (bread), el fútbol (football)