IS THAT A BOY OR A GIRL WORD? Part II
The Spanish language places all nouns into a masculine or feminine category. We must really pay attention to this, because if we get the gender of a noun wrong, or don’t match the article, adjective, or possessive pronoun correctly, it sounds way off. I remember one time in an airport I was speaking to a Colombian lady and commented on how cute her little girl was. “Su niña es muy bonito”. As soon as I said it, I knew I got the “bonito” wrong. And she didn’t waste any time in correcting me (in a friendly way). “Bonita” she said. The point is it’s real easy to make this kind of error. And it is an error that really stands out, as the nice lady from Colombia let me know.
As I mentioned in Part I, the articles (el, la, un, una etc.) and most of
the adjectives, must agree with the gender of the noun in the sentence. Take
a look at these:
The building is very tall.- El edificio es muy alto. Notice the article (el)
agrees with the gender of the masculine noun (edificio), and the adjective
(alto) also agrees. Here are some other examples:
The man is very rich.- El hombre es muy rico.
This chair is comfortable.- Esta silla es cómoda
The door is open.- La puerta está abierta.
The bank is closed now.- El banco está cerrado ahora,
If the adjective ends in O, it can be changed to an A (and vice versa),
to match the gender of the noun. But keep in mind there are some
adjectives that are gender neutral. If they don't end in A or O, they usually are. Look at these examples:
The house is very big.- La casa es muy grande.
The bus is very big.- El autobus es muy grande.
The situation is normal.- La situación es normal.
The traffic is normal for today.- El traffico es normal para hoy.
Notice that these adjectives remain the same no matter what the gender of
the noun (but the article must still match). And they don’t end in A or O.
We must also be aware that possessive pronouns must agree to the noun gender:
The cat is mine.-El gato es mío. The car is hers-El coche es suyo.
The tools? They are theirs.-¿Las herramientas? Son suyas, (notice “son” indicating a permanent situation, the tools being theirs).
When is our lesson? ¿Cuando es nuestra leccíon?
Possessive pronouns must also agree in quantity. The birds are ours.- Los pájaros son neustros. The monkeys are yours.- Los monos son suyos.
The giraffes are his.- Las jirafas son suyas.
The Gender Factor is one of the most difficult areas of Spanish. It’s not necessarily a hard concept to understand, it is just very easy to get one of the components backwards, especially in a long sentence.
Spanish Tip of the Day:
Learning Spanish must always be fun, never a chore!
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.