Gender • In this presentation, we will look at two very important concepts in Spanish: gender and agreement.
Gender • Look at these English words and guess whether they refer to male or female: • Bull • Hen • Husband • Niece • Cousin • Calculator • Love
Gender • Some are obvious: • Bull (m.) • Hen (f.) • Husband (m.) • Niece (f.) • Others are unknown: • Cousin (m. or f.) • While others are neither (“neuter”): • Calculator, love
Gender • In English, nouns and pronouns fall into three grammatical groups: • Masculine: man, husband, rooster, he • Feminine: woman, wife, hen, she • Neuter: child, bird, it
Gender • In Spanish, all nouns fall into just two categories: • Masculine (“masculino”) • Feminine (“feminino”) • There is no “neuter” class in which to place nouns such as “table” and “chair.”
So what does this mean? • You should start thinking about Spanish nouns as being either masculine or feminine.
Let’s take a look! • Here are some nouns with their corresponding definite article (“the”): • el niño (the boy) • la niña (the girl) • el profesor(the professor) • la profesora(the professor) • el amigo(the friend) • la amiga (the friend)
Let’s reorganize these words. • Put all of the “el” words together: • el niño • el profesor • el amigo • And all the “la” words together: • la niña • la profesora • la amiga
That’s easy! • Masculine nouns use the definite article “el” while feminine nouns use “la.” • Let’s look at a few more: • La mesa (the table) • El libro (the book) • La pluma (the pen) • El teléfono (the phone)
Just a minute!! • Words that are neuter in English are either masculine or feminine in Spanish. • This does not mean that these words have masculine or feminine characteristics! It is just a purely grammatical classification.
Let’s practice! • Do you think these nouns are masculine (“el”) or feminine (“la”)? Don’t worry about the meanings for now. • ___ hermano • ___ mamá • ___ trabajo • ___ historia • ___ planta • ___ taco
How did you do? • el hermano • la mamá • el trabajo • la historia • la planta • el taco • Generally speaking, nouns that end in –o are masculine, while those that end in –a are feminine. There are exceptions, but we will worry about them on a case-by-case basis.
Do you see the pattern? • Not all Spanish nouns end in –o and –a, but they still must be either masculine or feminine. • Nouns that end in –ión are usually feminine. • Nouns that end in –dad are always feminine. • Nouns that end in –l and –r are usually masculine.
Here are some different ones: • la ciudad • la universidad • la religión • la división • el actor • el doctor • el español • el túnel
How can we tell the difference? Masculine Feminine Refer to feminine beings (la madre) End in –a (la escuela, la nota) Letters of the alphabet (la a, la b) End in –ción (la estación-station), -dad (la ciudad-city), -tad (la libertad-liberty), -tud (la juventud-youth), -ie (la serie-series), -umbre (la costumbre-custom) EXCEPTIONS: ending in –ma (el problema), -pa (la mapa), -da, -ta (el planeta) • Refer to male beings (el padre) • End in –o (el curso, el cuaderno) • Numbers (el dos, el primero, el veintiuno) • Days of the week (el lunes, el martes) • Months of the year (el abril, el mayo) • Names of Rivers, Oceans, Lakes (el Amazonas, el Pácifico) • Names of Mountains and Volcanoes (los Andes)
What about…? • Nouns that end in –e can be either masculine or feminine: • la clase; el presidente • Some nouns can be both, depending on the meaning: • el presidente (a man) • la presidente (a woman)
What’s the bottom line? • Learn every Spanish noun with its article. It will pay off soon, because you will be able to classify new nouns as you see the patterns develop.
Agreement • Look at these sentences (alto = tall; guapo = good-looking): • El niño es alto y guapo. • La niña es alta y guapa. • Words that describe “niño” also end in –o: alto, guapo • Words that describe “niña” also end in –a: alta, guapa
What’s going on here? • Other words in the sentence also change to “agree” (match the form of the noun they describe). Here’s another one: • El profesor es bajo, anciano, y gordo. • How would you change this sentence to talk about a woman professor?
Agreement • La profesora es baja, anciana, y gorda. • What if there is more than one male teacher?
Agreement • Los profesoresson bajos, ancianos, y gordos. • What is happening?? • Los > “the” plural • Profesores > plural • Son > “are” • Bajos, ancianos, gordos > adjectives match the ending of the nouns, too. • This doesn’t happen in English (except for “this/these” and “that/those”). But it’s an important feature in Spanish!
Let’s try one! • Put the correct ending on each word. • La chica es bonit__ y delgad__. • Mi auto es antigu__ y fe__.
The envelope, please! • La chica es bonita y delgada. • Mi auto es antiguo y feo. • Now make these sentences plural!
Your final answer… • Las chicas son bonitas y delgadas. • Mis autos son antiguos y feos. • How about this sentence in the plural? • El estudiante es inteligente y trabajador.
How did you do? • Los estudiantesson inteligentes y trabajadores. • Adjectives that end in –e can be used with either masculine or feminine nouns. To make them plural, just add –s. • Adjectives that end in –r add –es for plural.
That’s enough for now! • This is a very tricky concept for learners of Spanish, mainly because it is so different from English. • However, it is extremely important and requires a lot of concentration on your part! Keep your eyes and ears open for gender and agreement, and soon the patterns will become clearer.