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Morphology

Grammatical gender (género)

In Spanish gender it serves to differentiate between masculino and femenino; but the classification of the names there are also four other genres: común, epiceno, ambiguo y neutro.

Masculino

Almost all words ending in -o.

Some words ending in other vowels or consonants.

The names related to geography: rivers, mountains, volcanoes, isthmus, canals: el Amazonas, el Everest, etc.

The months and days of the week: Fue un diciembre muy llivioso, el marzo ventoso.

Almost all winds: el siroco, el poniente, el levantesa, el terral, etc.

The cardinal points: el norte, el sur, el este, el oriente, el oeste, el este, etc.

The numbers: el siete, el doce, etc.

Femenino

Almost all words ending in -a.

Some words ending in other vowels or consonants.

Letters: la jota, la eme, etc.

There in -a that can be male or female within the meaning names: el cura/la cura, el cabeza/la cabeza, etc.

Común

Names that have single-ended and can be used with male or female article: el periodista/laperiodista, el testigo/la testigo, el canciller/la canciller, etc.

Almost all finished in -ante and -ente: estudiante, atacante, saliente, paciente, gerente, etc. ((Some do have femenino: presidente/a, cliente/a, asistente/a)

Epiceno

The names of animals that do not change for the male or female: el ratón, la rata, la rana, el sapo, el jabalí, la tortuga, el águila, la llama. In these cases, to differentiate them, they say: ratón macho/ratón hembra, raya macho/rata hembra, águila macho, águila hembra, etc.

Ambiguo

The names that support either the masculine or feminine article: el mar /la mar, el puente/la puente, el sartén/la sartén, etc.

Gender agreement

The names adjectives and articles on gender always agree.

It is wrong in Spanish combine a masculino name with an adjective or an article on femenino, or a name in femenino with an adjective or an article in masculino: *una caballo blanca, *el casa alto.

When there are more than one name and one is masculino and one femenino concordance is planted in masculino: los edificios de apartamentos, los parques y las casas de esa ciudad son muy bonitos.

The gender of the names of professions and positions

The names of professions and positions that were did traditionally only by men were only masculino. Some, when women did this work, became común gender, and the third and last step was split into masculino and femenino: 1. el abogado, 2. el/la abogado, 3. el abogado/la abogada.

That change is not over yet, but books on the use of Spanish advise especially in the names of professions and positions ending in -o are used in feminine, ending in -a: el médico/la médica, el músico/la música.

Masculino genérico

In Spanish it-and in the other languages ​​romances– masculino also functions as “gender unmarked”, that is, if not specified, is used for the masculino and the femenino, and the femenino is a “gender marking” is ie serves only to women: “los profesores de la universidad” includes professors male and female, and “las profesoras de la universidad” refers only to female teachers. “Cuando llegamos al hospital no había ningún médico” includes doctors male and female, and “Cuando llegamos al hospital no había ninguna médica” mentions only female doctors.

How to mark the femenino

Masculino nouns ending in -o make femenino by changing -a:

camarero/camarera, médico/médica, alumno/alumna, gato/gata.

Femenino with special endings

Some femenino names formed with -ina, -esa or -isa endings:

rey/reina, héroe/heroina, príncipe/princesa, conde/condesa, poeta/poetisa/, sacerdote/sacerdotisa, etc.

Article el before femenino starting in tonic a-

Femenino names starting with A- or HA with accent (not necessarily with graphic accent) change the article la by el: el agua, el arma, el hacha, el águila, el área…

 But when between the article and the noun is no other word, the feminine form la remains: la misma arma (no “*el mismo arma”), la otra acta (no “*el otro acta”), etc.

Alberto Gómez Font/Practica Español

Sources:

Wikilengua

Grammar of the Spanish Language

Note: An asterisk (*) indicates that what is below is incorrect.

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