Saturday, May 19, 2012

Gender in Spanish

One initial and significant difference between Spanish and English is that nouns in Spanish have a gender, and articles and adjectives have to agree in gender and number with the noun.

Articles are either definite (the) or indefinite (a,an). The definite article “the” means one particular thing. An example could be “the bank”, which we know means one particular bank. The indefinite article refers to any of something. “A grocery store” refers to any grocery store. 

In Spanish there are eight possibilities for articles: indefinite singular masculine, indefinite singular feminine, indefinite plural masculine, indefinite plural feminine, definite singular masculine, definite singular feminine, definite plural masculine, definite plural feminine. Adjectives are words that describe or modify nouns and, in Spanish, they are usually placed after the noun they describe (though there are exceptions that we will get into another day).

masculine noun definite article

       singular                                                                     plural
el supermercado (the supermarket)           los supermercados (the supermarkets)

feminine noun definite articles
singular                                                                            plural
la biblioteca (the library)                                            las bibliotecas (the libraries)

masculine noun indefinite article

 singular                                                                           plural
un supermercado (a supermarket)          unos supermercados (some supermarkets)

feminine noun indefinite article

singular                                                                          plural
una bilioteca (a library)                                            unas bibiotecas (some libraries)

In Spanish an adjective has to agree with a noun in gender and number. So for a feminine noun like casa (house) if we wanted to describe it as red (rojo/roja) it would look like:

singular                                                                           plural
la casa roja (the red house)                                   las casas rojas (the red houses)

To describe a masculine noun with the adjective small (pequeño/pequeña) you would do it like this:

singular                                                                          plural
el apartamento pequeño                                     los apartamentos pequeños

For a lot of adjectives, changing from masculine to feminine will involve changing an o (masculine) to an a (feminine), but this will not always be the case. In the near future we will explore some other adjective endings and how we change them. If you have any questions please leave a comment, and I will try to clarify.

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