Spanish - Nouns

After nouns: Adjectives

Adjectives usually come after the noun they are describing.


  • un vestido azul (a blue dress)
  • una camisa roja (a red shirt)

Before nouns

Words like first, second, next, last go before the noun:

  • el primer piso
  • la tercera puerta
  • la próxima semana
  • la última semana


All nouns are either masculine or feminine.

  • masculine: nouns often end in -o, use el, e.g. el niño (the boy)
  • feminine: nouns often end in -a, use la, e.g. la niña (the girl)

Nouns end in consonants:

  • masculine: l, r. E.g. hospital, tenedor.
  • feminine: pared, habitación, televisión, costumbre, luz.

Languages and days of the week are always masculine, no matter the ending letter.

The endings of adjectives depend on the gender of what they describe.

E.g. americano (male) / americana (female)

When -o and -a rule is broken:

  • Words that are shortened versions of other words. For example, la foto (photograph) is feminine because it's short for la fotografía.
  • Words that end in -ista, e.g. dentista can be either masculine or feminine.
  • Words whose meanings vary depending on the gender. For example, un cometa is a comet, but una cometa is a kite.
  • Some masculine words that come from Greek and end in -a (often -ma). Most of these words have English cognates.
  • A few compound nouns, which are traditionally masculine, even when the noun portion comes from a feminine noun.
  • Words that are just exceptions, such as mano and día. Usually these exceptions come from the way the words were treated in Latin.
  • el agua (water) and el águila (eagle)—feminine words that begin with a stressed a- or ha- and are immediately preceded by el (rather than la) in the singular form only. With these words, el doesn't indicate gender but is used instead for ease of pronunciation. It is similar to the way in which English substitutes "an" for "a" in front of some nouns, as the rule applies to the opening sound of the word, not how it's spelled.


  • el día: day
  • el drama: drama
  • el idioma: language
  • la mano: hand
  • el mañana: near future (but la mañana, tomorrow or morning)
  • el mapa: map
  • el papa: pope / la papa: potato
  • el policía: policeman
  • el problema: problem
  • la radio: radio
  • el sistema:system
  • el sofá: sofa


Just like in English, add -s or -es (if the word ends in a consonant) to the end of the word.

  • libro => libros
  • el bolígrafo => los bolígrafos
  • la carta => las cartas
  • las mujeres

If a word ends in -z (e.g. lapiz, pez, feliz), remove the -z and add -ces to make it plural.

  • el pez => los peces
  • la vaca feliz => las vacas felices

Add -s / -es to both nouns and adjectives

  • el zapato verde => los zapatos verdes

Also mi / tu / su

  • mi / tu / su camisa => mis / tus / sus camisas


Words describing a noun should agree in their gender:

  • un / el niño mexicano
  • una / la niña mexicaa


The word changes depending on the gender of the person

  • maestro / maestra: teacher
  • profesor / profesora: professor
  • médico / médica: doctor

el agua

El is often used for masculine nouns and la for feminine ones. But when the noun begins with a stressed a- or ha-, you must use el regardless of the gender.