Noun (Sustantivo)


Gender of the nouns (Género de los sustantivos)

The nouns in Spanish are either of masculine or of feminine gender.

Generally, the masculine is marked by the ending -o in singular, and the feminine by -a, cf.:
 
Masculine Feminine
  • macho male 
  • muchacho boy 
  • chico young boy 
  • hembra female 
  • muchacha girl 
  • chica young girl 

There are few important exceptions of the above rule:

There are also a lot of nouns ending by vowels, other tan o or a, or by consonants.

The nouns ending by -i and -u are mainly masculine:

The nouns ending by -l, -n, -r or -s are mainly masculine: The nouns suffixed by -miento, -dor / -or (denoting an agent), -al are always masculine: The nouns suffixed by -ón, -ión, -d, -tad, -tud are feminine: Important ecxeptions of the above rule are: The nouns ending by -z are feminine: Important ecxeptions of the above rule are:

Feminine of the Nouns (Femenino de los Sustantivos)

Termination Change Examples
Masculine
Feminine
Masculine
Feminine
-o
-a
chico boy
lobo wolf
chica girl
loba she-wolf
-o 
-ina
gallo cock gallina hen
 
+ -ina
rey king reína queen
-ente
-enta
sirviente servant sirvienta maid
-e
-a
sastre tailor sastra dress-maker
-or
-ora
señor mister señora misteress
-tor
-tora
corrector corrector correctora
-dor
-dora
aviador aviator aviadora
-tor
-triz
actor actor actriz actress
-ión
-ióna
gorrión sparrow gorriona she-sparrow
-al
-ala
general general generala
 
+ -esa
alcalde mayor
consul consul
alcaldesa
consulesa
-ta 
-tisa
poeta poet poetisa poetess
 
+ -isa
pitón python pitonisa she-python

Some nouns have masculine and feminine forms from different roots:
 
Masculine Feminine
  • el hombre man
  • el padre father
  • el caballo horse
  • el toro bull
  • el carnero ram
  • la mujer woman
  • la madre mother
  • la yegua mare
  • la vacca cow
  • la oveja sheep

 

Gender of the nouns of Greek origin (Género de los sustantivos de origen griego)

The nouns of Greek origin tend to preserve the gender they have in Greek (the nouns of neuter gender being classified as masculine). Thus:

The nouns suffixed by -ma and -ta are masculine, cf.:

The words of Spanish origin, ending by -ma and -ta are feminine, cf.: The nouns suffixed by -sis are feminine: The separate treating of the Greek words was inherited from the Classical Latin where they had a declination pattern of their own.
 
 

Nouns of common gender (Sustantivos del género común)

These are nouns with one form for both genders. Here are included:

1. All the nouns suffixed by -ista, cf.:

2. Some other nouns, like:
 
  • camarada comrade 
  • comerciante trader 
  • compatriota compatriot 
  • cónyuge spouse 
  • estudiante student 
  • hereje heretic 
  • indigena indigen 
  • idiota idiot 
  • intérprete interpreter 
  • mártir martyr 
  • patriota patriot 
  • rival rival 
  • suicida one that commits suicide 
  • testigo witness 

 

Nouns of epicene gender (Sustantivos del género epiceno)

These are nouns used in both genders without changing their meaning. The most of them tend to be used preferably in masculine. Nouns of epicene gender are:

Nouns of both genders (Sustantivos del género ambiguo)

These are nouns that seem to change their meaning by changing their gender.
The most important of them are:
 
Word Meaning in masculine Meaning in feminine
capital
colera
corte
consonante
cura
frente
guarda
guardia
guía
justicia
mañana
moral
orden
parte
pendiente
pez
policía
trompeta
vista
vocal
capital (money)
cholera
blade
rhyme
parish priest
front
guardian, custodian
guard (man)
guide (man)
judge
tomorrow
fruit tree
order (system of rules)
information
earing
fish
policeman
trumpeter
custom officer
voting assembly member
capital (city)
anfer
(royal) court
consonant sound
treatment
forehead
custody
guard (royal etc.), convoy
guide (manual)
justice, right
morning
moral, morality
command
part
slope
pitch (substance)
police
trumper
view
vowel (sound)

 

Plural of the Nouns (Plural de los Sustantivos)

Terminations Plural Examples
unstressed vowel
stressed
+ s
mesa table : mesas tables
pie foot : pies feet
gato cat : gatos cats
tribu tribe : tribus tribes
café coffee : cafés coffees
stressed vowel (but not )
-y
consonant
+ es
bajá pasha : bajáes pashas
rey king : reyes kings
mes month : meses months

 

Orthographic Particularities:

Ending in Singular
Ending in Plural
Examples
-z
-ces
voz voice : voces voices
-x
-ces
onix onyx : onices onyxes
-c
-ques
vivac bivouac : vivaques bivouacs

 
Particularities:
1. Some words ending by a stressed forms plural by adding -s: 2. A lot of foreign nouns, ending by a consonant, form plural by adding -s: 3. Some foreign nouns form plural in two manners: 4. There are 3 nouns that change the accent position in plural: 5. The English loan word lord has the plural form lores.

6. Many nouns, ending in singular by -s, remain unchanged in plural:

Plural of the Compound Nouns (Plural de los Sustantivos Compuestos)

Type of Compound Noun Rule Examples
Verbal form + Noun in pl.
unchanged
el / los lavamanos lavatory
el / los paracaídas parachute
Verbal form+Verbal form
unchanged
el / los hazmereír fool
el / los correvidile delator
Noun + Noun
the 1st element forms plural

both elements form plural

el vagon restaurante : los vagones restaurante

el gentilhombre courtier : los gentileshombres 


 

Pluralia tantum

These are nouns used in plural only. The most important between them are: Some nouns are used indifferently in singular and plural: Some geographical names are used in plural only:

Singularia tantum

These are nouns used in singular only. The most important between them are:

1. The proper names: Juan John, María Mary, Sevilla Seville, España Spain etc.

2. Nouns, designating objects and phenomena unique in themselves, such as:

3. Nouns, designating substances, materials, products etc.: 4. Abstract nouns, denoting quality, action or state: 5. Nouns implying a total plurality, such as: 6. The nouns suffixed by -ismo and the names of the sciences, as:



Next Topic
Previous Topic

Descriptive Spanish Grammar
Spanish Language Main Page

Modern Romance Languages Main Page
Orbis Latinus Main Page

This page is part of Orbis Latinus
© Zdravko Batzarov