Introduction To Spanish Nouns -- People, Places and Things
Whenever you see this speaker symbol next to an underlined word, you can click on the speaker or the underlined word to hear the word spoken by a native Spanish speaker.
Example Nouns: A noun is a person, place, or thing. Here are some examples of nouns:
|la arena||the sand|
|el arbol||the tree|
|la manzana||the apple|
|el periódico||the newspaper|
|el teléfono||the telephone|
|la tienda||the store|
Masculine and Feminine Nouns
Notice in these examples how the Spanish word for "the" changes from word to word -- this is because Spanish nouns are said to be "gender specific". this means that each Spanish noun word is said to be either mal or female. Another way this is said is by saying that a noun is masculine or feminine.
In English, we don't have masculine and feminine nouns, but just think of the way we refer to a man as "he" and a woman as "she". Now, extend this to all nouns -- that is to say, all nouns in Spanish are either "he" nouns or "she" nouns.
Notice in the table of Spanish nouns above how some of the words have "la" for the word the and some of the words have "el" for the word the. The word "la" is the Spanish word for the when refering to feminine nouns and the word "el" is the Spanish word for the when you're talking about a masculine noun.
Also, notice in the table that there's a pattern where nouns that end in "o" are usually masculine and use "el", and nouns that end in the letter "a" are usually feminine and use "la". The word usually is very important because there are many exceptions to this rule. There are many exceptions but this is a pretty good rule of thumb.
Spanish Nouns in the Dictionary
All the nouns in my Spanish dictionary are followed by a "f." or "m." telling you if the noun is feminine or masculine. This way you know whether to use la or el with that word.
The endings of some nouns don't tell you if they're masculine or feminine. These nouns just have to be learned on an individual basis.
In addition to -a ending nouns, other nouns that are usually feminine end in -ad, -ud, -ie, and -ión. Here are some examples of these words.
|la pluma||the pen|
|la joventud||the youth|
|la libertad||the liberty|
|la lección||the lesson|
|la serie||the series|
How Much Does Noun Gender Matter?
At this point some of you might ask "Does it matter if you know the gender of every noun?". Will I be understood if I use the wrong word for the when speaking Spanish? The answer is if you plan to be a professional translator then yes you must know the gender of every Spanish noun and know it well. On the other hand, if you are just beginning to learn Spanish don't get too worried about how correctly you speak or write -- the important thing is to speak or write. After all we all make mistakes. Do the best you can.
That being said, as long as you are going to do the work to learn a new noun, it doesn't take much more work to learn whether to us la or el when you speak it.