Today we speak about Spanish words that start with stressed A and HA. Have you ever wondered why we say “el agua” instead of “la agua”? If you do not know the reason, take a look at the blog of our Spanish school El Rincón del Tándem.

One of the question that our Spanish students usually ask concerns the right use of Spanish words beginning with stressed A or HA. The question arises when we find structures that seem wrong to us, like “el agua” or “el alma”.

Therefore, to clarify any doubts, today we focus on this special rule and the circumstances under which it applies. Let’s go there!

First of all, the exception to the general rule only concerns the Spanish nouns belonging to feminine gender and in singular form. For instance, common words like agua, alma, águila, ecc.

In this case, we have to pay great attention when it comes to place a definite article before the noun.

In fact, despite the gender of the noun, the masculine article el is used in place of the feminine la. That is due to purely phonetic reasons.


El agua / el alma / el alba / el ave / el arma / el aula / el hada / el hacha, etc.

On the contrary, when it comes with indefinite article, we can find both the feminine and masculine article. Although the masculine form is most commonly used in Spanish, the feminine one is also used and considered to be correct by the Real Academia Española.

Therefore, we can write:

Un agua /una agua

un hacha / una hacha

un área / una área, etc.

Both forms are correct in Spanish.

Similarly, the indefinite adjectives algún(a) – ningún(a), can be used in both gender.

Lastly, this rule does not concern all other adjectives, like demonstrative adjectives (este/esta, aquel/aquella, ecc.), adjective of quantity (mucho/mucha, poco/poca, ecc.), adjective of quality (claro/clara, alto/alta, ecc.), ecc.

Esta alga

Poca agua

Aquella ave

Blanca ala


Placing a masculine article before a feminine noun does not entails a change of the noun’s gender. That is, the noun stays feminine as the application of this specific rule is allowed only for phonetic reasons.

Therefore, feminine names beginning with stressed A or HA are always preceded by feminine articles in plural:

Las almas / unas almas

Las hachas / unas hachas

Las áreas / unas áreas, etc.

Likewise, the rule does not apply when the other words (like adjectives) are placed between the article and the noun:

La verde agua

La afilada hacha

La pequeña área, etc.

To sum up:

– This rule applies only to feminine nouns that starts with stressed A or HA in singular form

– This rule applies only when no other words are placed between the article and the noun

– This rule always applies when it comes with definitive article (el/la)

– This rule does not change the gender of the noun

– With regard to indefinite article (un/una) and indefinite adjectives (algún(a)/ningún(a) both forms are used and correct.

We hope this post helped you to better understand the rule that applies to Spanish words that start with stressed A and HA.

As usual we encourage you to improve your language skills by learning new Spanish words while reading, writing and speaking with your friends while enjoying life in Valencia.

Lastly, we remind you that our Spanish school El Rincón del Tándem keeps teaching Spanish online. Get in contact with us to know more!

See you soon!