IS THAT A BOY OR A GIRL WORD? Part I
The Spanish language assigns gender to all nouns. Nouns are either masculine or feminine. This presents a problem for us gringos because in English, we don't have to think about this. It's hard enough just learning a Spanish word, now we have to qualify it by gender. And just knowing if a noun is masculine or feminine is only half the battle. The real challenge is making sure the articles (la,el,las,los,un,una, etc.), adjectives (words describing nouns), and nouns, all agree with each other. If we get that wrong, it sounds way, way off. Therefore, we must pay close attention to what is sometimes called The Gender Factor of Spanish.
The first step is to know the gender of the noun. Try to remember these
If the noun ends in "a" it's usually feminine. The house-la casa. A
person-una persona. But there are exceptions. If it ends in "ema", “ima”, “ama”, "pa", or "ta", it is almost always masculine. The program-el programa, the map-el mapa, the planet- el planeta, the climate-el clima, the poet-el poeta.
Just to note, most of these nouns are of Greek origin.
And, if the noun ends in "dad", "tad", "ion ", or "umbre", it will most
always be feminine. The university- la universidad, the liberty- la libertad, the mission- la missión, the custom- la costumbre. There are very few
exceptions to this rule. The centurion- el centurion is one.
Unfortunately, some nouns just have to be memorized, especially if they
don't end in A or O, or end in E. The fountain-la fuente, the bridge-el puente, the tree- el árbol.
I suggest anytime you learn a new noun, write it down in your notes, and
always put the article in front of it. When I learn a new word from my
house keeper or instructor for example, I always ask EL...?or LA...? and
then write both the article and the noun down.
In part II, We will look at a few simple sentences
where the articles and adjectives agree, and are consistent to the gender of the noun. And we will look at a few possessive pronouns (mine,yours,theirs, ours, his, hers, etc.) which must also agree to the noun’s gender.
Spanish Tip of the Day:
Never be tempted to buy Spanish learning programs or books that promise fluency in a short amount of time. It just won't happen. The best money spent for learning Spanish is for private lessons.
Hope this helps!
Hi, my name is Fred. My background in Spanish is a year in high school
(long ago) and the last seven years taking private lessons almost daily, in
the States and in Panamá'. I am not yet fluent, but maybe I can pass on
to you some tips to help your Spanish learning experience.