Spanish Grammar - Gender and Articles
Spanish grammar lesson 1: gender and articles (el género y los artículos)
In Spanish, nouns have genders (male/female). When speaking Spanish, you need to know this to be able to communicate correctly. The "articles," the words "the" and "a," need to have gender and number (indicate singular or plural), and must agree properly with the noun of the sentence.
"the" = definite article:
el, los (male singular and plural)
la, las (female singular and plural)
"a" or "some" = indefinite article:
un, unos (male singular and plural)
una, unas (female singular and plural)
Most of the time, we can deduce the gender of a word by looking at the ending of the noun. Usually, masculine nouns end in one of the following ways: -o, -e, -l, -n, -r. These nouns require a masculine article (el, los, un, unos).
Usually, feminine nouns end in one of the following ways: -a, -dad, -tad, -ión, -ud, -umbre. These nouns require a feminine article (la, las, una, unas).
Look at the following examples:
la cabeza (the head); las orejas (the ears)
la actitud (the attitude); una inyección (an injection); unas gotas (some drops)
la articulación (the joint); la cabeza (the head)
el hígado (the liver); los labios (the lips); un ojo (an eye); el sol (the sun)
el pulgar (the thumb); el mentón (the chin); los pulmónes (the lungs)
Now, look at these examples:
unos días (a few days)
la frente (the forehead or brow)
Wait a minute! The word "día" ends in "a," and the word "frente" ends in "e." What's going on?
Traditionally, there are many assigned articles that do not parallel the noun's ending, and these exceptions just need to be learned and reinforced by repetition.
Exercise: Read, listen to, and repeat aloud the following examples. Pay attention to gender and articles, and identify any exceptions to the rules.
Acueste a la niña sobre la mesa de examen.
(Lay the girl on the examining table.)
Cierre los ojos tres veces lentamente.
(Close the eyes three times slowly.)
Flexione las rodillas y extienda los pies.
(Flex the knees and extend the feet.)
Apoye la mano derecha contra el estante.
(Lean the right hand against the shelf.)
Advice: Try to read and speak in Spanish as much as you can, until you just choose the right articles naturally!