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Problems with the Gender of Spanish Nouns
What is Gender anyways? It's a grammatical term used when a language groups nouns
and adjectives into different classes, ie masculine and feminine.
In Spanish we run into a minor problem with this grouping of nouns and adjectives.
Sometimes there is not a general consensus as to the gender of certain words! First
let's look at many common words. We already know that almost always a masculine word
ends in o or e and a feminine word ends in a. For example
In some cases there are totally different words that are used to designate
masculine or feminine, such as:
- niño - niña
- oso - osa
- esposo - esposa
- perro - perra
- director - directora
Now we come to a group or class of words that are interchangeable regardless of sex.
These words don't change, whether or not they are referring to a man or a woman
- hombre - mujer
- toro - vaca
- macho - hembra
And finally we come to a group of words that I mentioned in the opening paragraph.
These words can't decide if they want to be masculine or feminine. Or the speakers
of Spanish can't decide.
- el dentista - la dentista (dentist)
- el periodista - la periodista (newspaper reporter)
- el artista - la artista (artist) (and almost all the words ending in -ista)
- el testigo - la testigo (witness)
- el intérprete - la intérprete (interpreter)
And there are a few others that change their meaning based on if they are masculine
- el or la mar (sea)
- el or la azúcar (sugar)
- el or la calor (heat)
- el or la puente (bridge)
- el cólera (cholera sickness) - la cólera (anger)
- el clave (claves musical instrument) - la clave (key or code)
- el capital (capital money) - la capital (capital city)
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