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Overview of Nouns and Articles

Overview of Nouns and Articles

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Author: Sophia Tutorial
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Identify the meaning and gender of common Spanish nouns.

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Tutorial

what's covered
In this lesson, you will learn about how nouns function in the Spanish language, and how to determine the correct articles to accompany them. Specifically, this lesson will cover:
  1. Los Sustantivos (Nouns)
    1. Gender
    2. Number

1. Los Sustantivos (Nouns)

A noun is a person, place or thing (e.g., pharmacist, pharmacy, prescription). In Spanish, all nouns are either masculine or feminine.

However, this is not to say that "la computadora" is a girl and that "el teléfono" is a boy. Linguistic gender is very different from how we view gender.

1a. Gender

Linguistic gender was carried into Spanish from Latin. It is a very important part of each noun. The gender of a noun determines the form of any adjective or article that describes it.

You will thus use the article "el" with masculine words and "la" with feminine words. They both mean "the." You will also want to remember the following rules:

  • Generally, if a noun ends in the letter "o," it is masculine.
  • Generally, if it ends in the letter "a," it is feminine.
Of course, there are exceptions to these rules, such as "el agua," "la mano," "el día," "la radio," etc.

hint
The safest way to memorize the gender of a noun is to memorize its article ("el" or "la" ) with it. You can color-code nouns on flash cards to help you remember their gender.

Here are some nouns for you to learn:

Masculine Noun English Translation Feminine Noun English Translation
el papel paper la computadora computer
el bolígrafo pen la forma form
el libro book la caja cash register
el dinero money la tarjeta de crédito credit card
el dinero en efectivo cash la tarjeta de débito debit card
el cheque check la calculadora calculator
el cupón coupon la botella bottle
el lápiz pencil la farmacia pharmacy
el medicamento medication la receta prescription
el seguro insurance la medicina medicine
el hospital hospital la droga drug
el teléfono telephone la oficina office
el mensaje message la clínica clinic

If the noun is a person, the linguistic gender is always the same as the physical gender:

Masculine Noun English Translation Feminine Noun English Translation
el hombre man la mujer woman
el chico / el muchacho boy la chica / la muchacha girl
el niño little boy - child la niña little girl - child
el novio boyfriend / fiancé la novia girlfriend / fianceé
el amigo male friend la amiga female friend
el farmacéutico male pharmacist la farmacéutica female pharmacist
el técnic male technician la técnica female technician
el doctor male doctor la doctora female doctor
el enfermero male nurse la enfermera female nurse
el secretario male secretary la secretaria female secretary
el esposo / el marido husband la esposa / la mujer wife
el padre father la madre mother
el hijo son la hija daughter
el hermano brother la hermana sister
el abuelo grandfather la abuela grandmother
el tío uncle la tía aunt
el primo male cousin la prima female cousin
el paciente male patient la paciente female patient
el cliente male customer la cliente female customer

1b. Number

Now that you've learned about the gender of nouns, you must learn the other aspect: number. This one is much easier. All nouns have two forms: singular and plural.

To make a singular noun plural, follow these rules:

  • If the word ends in a vowel, simply add an "s" to the end.
    • Amigo (friend) → amigos (friends), farmacia (pharmacy) → farmacias (pharmacies)
  • If the word ends in a consonant, add an "es" to the end.
    • Ciudad (city) → ciudades (cities)
summary
In this lesson, you learned about nouns in the Spanish language. When using nouns, there are two important aspects to consider. First, you must know the linguistic gender of the noun. Nouns in Spanish are either masculine or feminine, and this gender will determine which article to use with the noun. Second, you must determine the number of the noun. To make a singular noun plural, you will simply need to add an "s" or "es" to the end of the word.

¡Buena suerte!

Source: This content has been adapted from "Pharmacy Spanish" by Stephanie Langston.