The special rules of gender in Spanish are applied to know the gender of people and animals.

A few weeks ago we started the topic of how to know the gender of the Spanish words. Today we will continue with this topic and explain the special rules of gender in Spanish.

General rule

By the general norm, the nouns that designate people or animals have two forms: male and female. Thus, the masculine form is considered the basic form and is that which appears in the dictionary.

As for the formation of the word, usually the masculine form ends in  – o and this in the feminine is changed to an –a. En in the case that the masculine form ends in a consonant, in the feminine form an -a is added.
Un niño – una niña (a boy – a girl)
Un profesor – una profesora (a teacher)

In the same way, for some nouns ending in -e, to make the female form that vowel is changed to an -a.
Un jefe – una jefe (a boss)
Un presidente – una presidente (a president)
But:  el/la paciente, el/la creyente etc. (the patient, the believer etc.)

Special rules for the gender of people

In some cases there are different words for each sex:
Un hombre – una mujer (a man- a woman)

On the other hand, for some words the endings of the words are changed in a different way from the standard.
Un actor – una actriz (an actor – an actress)
Un marqués – una marquesa (a marquis – a marchioness)

In addition, there are groups of words that have the same form for both sexes.
(El/la) amante, cantante (the lover, the singer)
(El/la) artista, comunista (the artist, communist)
(El/la) pareja, testigo (the couple, witness)

Special rules for the gender of animals

As in the nouns referred to person, in some cases different words are used for each sex.
El toro (masc.) y la vaca (fem.) – the bull and the cow
El caballo (masc.) y la yegua (fem.) – the horse and the mare

In addition, there are special endings for the feminine form of some words.
El gallo – la gallina (the rooster – the hen)
El tigre – la tigresa (the tiger – the tigress)

However, most animal names have only one form, male or female.
(El) calamar, cocodrilo, dinosaurio – (the) squid, crocodile, dinosaur
(La) gamba, jirafa, mosca – (the) prawn, giraffe, fly
In this case, to refer to another sex, it is specified whether it is male or female.
La jirafa macho, el dinosaurio hembra  – the male giraffe, the female dinosaur

Also, if you a re not sure about the gender of Spanish words you always can consult the dictionary to know its gender. For that we recommend you always consult with RAE as the first reference for any questions about Spanish.

We hope you liked our blog and it helps your with your Spanish learning. Soon we will talk about other topics of Spanish grammar. Meanwhile, next Friday a post about Christmas in Valencia awaits you 🙂 In addition, at our Spanish school we are already preparing special events for our students 😉

Happy Wednesday!