Nouns in Spanish can be masculine or feminine and there is no fixed rule to know whether they are one or the other; unlike English in which nouns referring to male are he, nouns referring to female are she, and things and animals are considered neuter, it.
Therefore, un libro (a book) is masculine and una mesa (a table) is feminine.
In principle, all nouns ending in –o are masculine and all nouns ending in –a are feminine:
el libro (the book)
la casa (the house)
un abogado (a lawyer)
una abogada (a lawyer)
Unfortunately, the rule does not always apply, so:
un sofa (a sofa)
una mano (a hand)
Uncountable nouns starting with a- are made masculine, mainly because of pronunciation reasons:
el arroz (rice)
el aceite (oil)
el agua (water)
Nouns ending in –e and in consonant can be either masculine or feminine, or even both:
el coche (the car)
la leche (the milk)
el camión (the lorry)
la pared (the wall)
el/la cantante (the singer)
Nouns ending in –ista are both masculine and feminine:
el/la artista (the artist)
el/la periodista (the journalist)
So the student needs to learn this by heart and it is advisable to check the gender when we learn new nouns.
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