That got your attention!
Sorry – we’re not really going to talk about sex – but gender is very important in Spanish.
Everything in Spanish has a gender – masculine or feminine – although strictly speaking it is the noun or naming word which has the gender rather than the actual thing. Most of the time it is easy to tell if the noun is masculine or feminine.
Generally speaking, nouns that end in D, A, Z & IÓN are feminine, and everything else is masculine. There are of course some exceptions, but they are very few, and it’s best just to learn them as you go. My personal favourite ‘exception’ is ‘el problema’ – the noun might appear to be feminine, but ‘the problem’ is in fact masculine!
Why do we need to know the gender of a noun? Simply because the gender of the noun dictates almost everything else we say! Don’t worry too much though – Spanish is a very musical language, so that very often everything just rhymes.
Unfortunately, because everything is either masculine or feminine – it means that here are several words for ‘the’, ‘a/an’ & ‘some’. But look how they fit together – how they rhyme.
|the (m/s)||el||el vaso|
|the (m/p)||los||los vasos|
|a (m)||un||un vaso|
|some (m)||unos||unos vasos|
|the (f/s)||la||la mesa|
|the (f/p)||las||las mesas|
|a (f)||una||una mesa|
|some (f)||unas||unas mesas|
To make plurals the rule is very simple: – if the noun ends in a vowel you add an ‘s’ to the end, if it ends in a consonant, you add ‘es’. Again there are very few exceptions.
la mesa – las mesas
una televisión – unas televisiones
el sillón – los sillones
un armario – unos armarios
And then when you want to start describing things – adding adjectives – they need to ‘fit’ too. ……….. & again, they’ll more often than not rhyme! Just remember that the adjective (describing word) goes after the noun (naming word).
So the end of the adjective will change to fit the gender of the noun, in fact, everything which is ‘connected to’ the noun will have to ‘fit’ it.
Let’s just start with some colours……..
red – rojo, yellow – amarillo, black – negro, white – blanco
so that gives us……..
el vaso rojo -los vasos rojos
un vaso amarillo – unos vasos amarillos
la silla negra – las sillas negras
una silla blanca – unas sillas blancas
Singalong with this – go on – you know you want to!!
Of course, not all adjectives will conveniently end in ‘O’, in the basic form – some will end in L, E A, N or S – in fact, all adjectives will end in one of those 6 letters!!
If an adjective is what I call a ‘LEANS’ word, then it doesn’t change for gender – although it does for plural.
Here are a few ‘LEANS’ colours:
blue – azul, green – verde, orange – naranja, brown – marrón, grey – gris
of course, these unfortunately will often not rhyme
el coche azul – los coches azules
una mesa verde – unas mesas verdes
un plato naranja – unos platos naranjas
la puerta marrón – las puertas marrones
el perro gris – los perros grises
Here are a few tonguetwisters – look for the rhyme
Tres pollos bolos peludos.
Tres peludos pollos bolos.
Compré pocas copas,
pocas copas compré
y como compré pocas copas,
pocas copas pagué.
La gata flaca panza blanca salta a la barca, va al mar, traga calamar.
And look at how the adjectives ‘fit’ the nouns in this ‘For Rent’ advertisement:
Este apartamento precioso está en una calle tranquila cerca del centro del pueblo. Es un poco pequeño, pero está en un barrio muy agradable. También es muy barato. Tiene un dormitorio bonito, un cuarto de baño con ducha y aseo, una cocina moderna con horno, lavavajillas y nevera. ¡Todos son nuevos! El salón es muy cómodo y luminoso y hay un balcón enorme con cara al sur, y vistas maravillosas del mar y las montañas. Hay parking detrás del edificio.
On a slightly different note – I’m always telling my students that listening to – and singing along to – Spanish music helps tremendously. This might not be to your taste – but have a listen anyway! If you know of any Spanish artists, just put their name into the youtube search & add ‘con letras’ & you’ll get a selection. Enjoy!
This is David Bisbal – Hasta el Final (until the end)
LOTS of ladies find him sexy – so that brings us nicely back to the title!!