NOUNS: GENDER, NUMBER & AGREEMENT

 

All nouns in the Spanish language are going to be either feminine or masculine. It is important to be able to determine the gender and number of each noun because all the modifiers (adjectives, definite and indefinite articles) must agree in number and gender with the noun(s) they modify.

Generally, a noun ending in a will be feminine, and one that ends in o will be masculine. However, this is NOT a concrete rule! There are always exceptions: la mano, el drama, el problema, el mapa. There are also nouns that end in neither a nor o .

 

A noun can be the general name of:

A person: el muchacho, la muchacha

A place: la ciudad, el continente, el mundo

An animal: la vaca, el perro

An idea: la democracia, el socialismo

An emotion: el amor, la codicia (greed)

 

All of the above are "common" nouns. The names of geographical places or particular people are called "proper" nouns and are always capitalized.

 

 

Guidelines:

Generally, feminine nouns are nouns that end in:

-ción à la emoción, la bendición

-dad à la ciudad, la edad

-ie à la especie (kind, sort)

-umbre à la muchedumbre, la incertidumbre

-ud à la multitud, la juventud

 

The following endings usually indicate a masculine gender:

-e à el tanque, el parque

-l à el hotel

-n à el botelín, el jardín

-r à el terror, el horror

-s (in the singular form)à el interés

 

 PLURALS

 

 

Articles

Articles in Spanish function as adjectives; therefore they must agree in gender and number with the noun they modify:

El libro à los libros

La taza à las tazas

Un hombre à unos hombres

Una mujer à unas mujeres

When the indefinite article is pluralized, its meaning changes: unos / unas = some, a few .

 

 

Possessives:

In Spanish , there is no apostrophe "s" to indicate possession or ownership. "Today is my brothers birthday" becomes "Hoy es el cumpleaños de mi hermano." "The girls parents" becomes "Los padres de la muchacha."

 

 

 

Diminutives:

 

Diminutives are noun (sometimes adjective) endings used to express size, indicating either an affectionate or derogatory meaning.

-ito/-ita à indicate either smallness, affection, generally favorable: un librito = a little book ; una sillita = a little chair ; un hombrecito = a (nice) little man ; una mujercita = a (nice) little woman .

-illo/- illa ; -cillo/-cilla à un hombrecillo = a little, unimportant man ; una mujercilla = a little woman; un chiquillo = a kid, boy ; una chiquilla a little girl .

 

 

 

Augmentatives:

-ón / -ona à un hombrón = a big he man ; una mujerona = a large woman

-ote/ -ota à un librote = a heavy book; una mujer grandota = a hulking woman

-azo/ -aza à un perrazo = a big bad dog; una perraza, f.

-ucho/ -ucha, -acho/ -acha à (always derogatory): una casucha = a hovel ; un vinacho = a poor quality wine, etc.