The Gender & Articles

At last! You have probably been waiting for this with baited breath! Yes, in Spanish, as in most other languages, there are masculine and feminine-gendered words.
This applies only to nouns and their adjectives (modifiers). Don't panic! It isn't really that complicated.
Here are the basic rules:

  • Masculine-gendered nouns are preceded by the Article "el" (equivalent to "the" in English).

    The piano, in Spanish is "el piano".

  • Feminine-gendered nouns are preceded by the Article "la" (also equivalent to "the" in English).

    The bed , in Spanish is "la cama".

Here's how to recognize the gender:

  • [1] Singular nouns in Spanish that end in ...a, ...er or ...ción , are feminine [f].

    la puerta the door
    la mujer the woman
    la nación the nation

    For euphony, use "el" and not "la" for feminine síngular nouns that begin with "a..." or "ha...". This avoids using two "a" sounds nexto each other.
    The equivalent English rule would be: "an apple" instead of "a apple".

    Here are some Spanish examples:

    el agua the water
    el hacha the hatchet
    el alma the soul

    These are all femenine nouns inasmuch as they end in "..a". Using the article "el" does not change the gender of these nouns, and the plural reverts to the feminine article again, thus:

    las aguas the waters
    las hachas the hatchets
    las almas the souls
  • [2] Singular nouns in Spanish with endings other than the above, are masculine [m]. These include nouns that end in "e", "en", "il", "o", "or" and "on".

    el hombre the man
    el tren the train
    el mastil the mast
    el piano the piano
    el señor the Mister
    el cordón the cord

    Nouns designating days, months, and languages are also masculine:

    el día the day
    el lunes the monday
    el mes the month
    el Español the Spanish
    el Inglés the English
  • [3] The plural femenine article is "las"

    las naciones the nations
  • [4] The plural masculine article is "los"

    los pianos the pianos
  • These together with the neuter article "lo" comprise the Definitive Articles in Spanish. "lo" is used in conjuntion with an adjective. In English, of course, it is always "the (best, highest, longest, etc.)"
    For example:
    lo mejor del artículo the best part of the article
    lo más alto del edificio the highest part of the building
  • [5] This, that, these & those are expressed in Spanish as este (or esta), ese (or esa), estos (or estas) and aquellos (or aquellas).

    este momento this moment [m]
    esta manzana this apple [f]
    ese momento that moment [m]
    esa manzana that apple [f]
    estos momentos these moments [m]
    estas manzanas these apples [f]
    esos momentos those moments [m]
    esas manzanas these apples [f]
  • Aquellos (or aquellas) is generally used when refferring to people
    (pronounced AH-KAY-OHS & AH-KAY-AHS)
    aquellos hombres those men [m]
    aquellas mujeres those women [f]
  • [6] The Indefinite Articles are also gendered, thus:
    In English, the singular "a" or "an" (a moment, an apple) are either "un" [m] or "una" [f], in Spanish depending on the gender of the noun:

    un momento a moment [m]
    una manzana an apple [f]

    The English plural "some" (some moments, some apples) in Spanish becomes "unos" or "unas", depending on the gender of the noun:

    unos momentos some moments [m]
    unas manzanas some apples [f]

    The English plural "a few" (a few moments, a few apples) in Spanish becomes "algunos" or "algunas", depending on the gender of the noun:

    algunos momentos a few moments [m]
    algunas manzanas a few apples [f]

    For quick reference, here's the list

  • Definitive Articles

    Spanish Gender [m] or [f], [S]ingular or [P]lural English
    el m, singular the
    la f, singular the
    los m, plural the
    las f, plural the
    este m, singular this
    esta f, singular this
    ese m, singular that
    esa f, singular that
    estos m, plural these
    estas f, plural these
    esos m, plural those
    esas f, plural those
    aquellos m, plural those
    aquellas f, plural those

    Indefinite Articles

    Spanish Gender, Singular or Plural English
    un m, singular a, an
    una f, singular a, an
    unos m, plural some
    unas f, plural some
    algunos m, plural a few
    algunas f, plural a few
  • An adjective changes gender in accordance with the noun it modifies.
    Remember that, in Spanish, the adjective comes after the noun!
    el hombre astuto the astute man
    la mujer astuta the astute woman

    The adjective becomes plural if the noun is plural.

    los hombres astutos the astute men
    las mujeres astutas the astute women

    If the adjective modifies masculine and feminine nouns, use the masculine plural adjective:

    los hombres y las mujeres astutos the astute men and women
    las mujeres y los hombres astutas the astute women and men

    Adjectives that end in "e", such as "grande" [large or big] do not change:

    el hombre grande the large man
    la mujer grande the large woman

    Grande, incidentally, is also used in Spanish to describe an elderly person, which is more polite and sensitive than using the adjective "viejo" [old]. In these cases, one would use the adjective in conjunction with the intransitive verb "está" [is], that denotes a state of being:

    El hombre está grande The man is old
    La mujer está grande The woman is old
    El hombre está contento The man is happy
    La mujer está contenta The woman is happy

    The intransitive verb "es" has an accent on the second syllable, whereas the article "esta" has an stress on the first.