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Nouns - Part 2 (Gender and Forming Plurals)
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  Verb Tenses  
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    Verbs - Ser (to be) Estar (to be)  
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    The present simple tense - irregular verbs (I am)  
    The past simple tense - regular verbs (I was)  
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    Adverbs - Part 1 - (words ending in -ly in English)  
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Video Lesson
Summary of Lesson
A look at nouns that can take either masculine or feminine endings (o, or a). Nouns that have the same meaning but which are spelt differently depending on gender (el actor or la actriz actor or actress) and nouns that are spelt in the same way but which change meaning depending on the gender of the article that is used with the noun (el papa or la papa the Pope or potato).
A look at certain nouns that change gender in their plural forms (el ala or las alas wing or wings). Nouns that change gender but not meaning depending on the article that is used with the noun (el jovn or la jovn young man or young woman).
Making singular nouns plural.
Looking at how altering or adding to the endings of nouns can give the noun added meaning (cervezita small beer). These are known as derived nouns.
   
  What you can learn from this lesson
   
Understanding how the gender of a noun is often dictated by the physical gender of the noun itself (living things).
Appreciating that the gender of certain nouns is not always fixed. Knowing which group of nouns change gender depending on whether a singular or plural form is used.
Understanding that some nouns which are spelt in the same way can have different meanings. Understanding how the article that is used with the noun is what affects gender.
Appreciating that in some rare situations some nouns can take either a masculine or feminine form even when there is no change in spelling or meaning of the noun itself what-so-ever.
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PART 1

 

The first part of this lesson looks at nouns that can be both masculine and feminine but which take different endings (very often o or a). It also looks at different nouns for male and female people or animals and nouns which change gender and meaning but which maintain the same spelling.

 

Changing the ending of a noun to make it masculine or feminine

 

These types of nouns are very common. The following are some examples:

 

Nouns referring to animals. (If gender is unknown always use the masculine form.)

 

  masculine noun feminine noun
cat el gato la gata
bear el oso la osa
dog el perro la perra
monkey el mono la mona

 

Nouns referring to people.

 

  masculine noun feminine noun
friend el amigo la amiga
solicitor el abogado la abogada
chef el cocinero la cocinera
brother / sister el hermano la hermana
Frenchman / Frenchwoman el francés la francesa
salesman / saleswoman el vendedor la vendedora

Things to note:

 

1)      Many masculine nouns end in o and many feminine nouns of the same type end in a.

2)      If a masculine noun ends in a consonant the feminine form is usually derived simply by adding a.

 

Nouns for animals and people that take different articles and different spellings.

 

Nouns referring to animals.

 

  masculine noun feminine noun
bull or cow el toro la vaca
horse or mare el caballo la yegua

 

Nouns referring to people

 

  masculine noun feminine noun
man or woman el hombre la mujer
gentleman or lady el caballero la dama
king or queen el rey la reina

 

Nouns that are spelt in the same way but where the meaning of the noun changes depending on the article that is used with the noun

 

This group of nouns is not that common but the following are some of the most common examples.

 

masculine noun feminine noun masculine noun
el papa (the Pope) la papa (potato) el papá
el capital (capital - money) la capital (capital - city)  
el cometa (comet) la cometa (kite)  
el cura (priest) la cura (cure)  
el policía (policeman / woman) la policía  

 

PART 2

 

This part of the lesson looks at Spanish nouns that change gender depending on whether they take singular or plural forms. It also looks at nouns that change gender depending on the article that is used with the noun but where the meaning of the noun remains the same.

 

Nouns that are masculine in the singular and feminine in the plural

 

The following is a list of nouns that change gender from masculine to feminine when they change from singular to plural. All these nouns strictly speaking are actually feminine in both forms. The reason why they take a masculine article is because each noun begins with an 'a' sound and the article la before each noun in the singular does not sound correct. (The masculine indefinite article un is also used with these types of nouns instead of una for the same reasons.)

 

singular form plural form translation
el águila las águilas eagle / eagles
el área las áreas area / areas
el hacha las hachas axe / axes
el ala las alas wing / wings
el aula las aulas cage / classroom cages / classrooms
el alma las almas soul / souls

 

Things to note:

 

1)      Each noun takes a masculine article in its singular form and a feminine article in its plural form.

2)      Each noun ends in a. Normally nouns ending in a are feminine.

3)      Each noun begins with an 'a' or an 'a' sounding syllable.

 

On very rare occasions certain nouns can take either a masculine or feminine form in both the singular and plural.

 

el mar the sea
OR
la mar the sea
los mares the seas
OR
las mares the seas

In this particular case la mar is often used more in poetry or literature and el mar is used more commonly in everyday conversation.

 

Nouns where the article changes but not the spelling of the noun

 

The following is a list of nouns that are spelt in the same way and mean the same thing but change gender depending on the article that they are used with.

 

el joven young man la joven young woman
el estudiante male student la estudiante female student
el artista male artist la artista female artist

 

Some nouns take only one gender but refer to both masculine and feminine.

 

la persona male and female person
el animal male and female animal
la víctima male and female victim
el cantante male and female singer

 

Lots of nouns referring to animals take only one gender but refer to both masculine and feminine. This is also very common practice in English.

 

la rata male and female rat
el tigre male and female tiger
la ballena male and female whale

 

PART 3

 

The third part of this lesson looks at how plural nouns are formed. The majority of plural nouns can be formed by following a set of simple formation guidelines. These guidelines cannot be relied on 100% but they can be used in nearly all cases.

 

Nouns ending in a vowel a, e, i, o and u that which don’t take accent marks (tildes)

 

Add s to the end of the noun.

 

singular singular plural plural
la mesa table las mesas tables
el vaso glass los vasos glasses
el garaje garage los garajes garages

 

Note: If the noun ends in a vowel and takes an accent mark (tilde), then sometimes s is added to the end of the noun and sometimes es. The accent mark (tilde), is maintained in these cases.

 

singular singular plural plural
el sofá sofa los sofás sofas
el maní peanut los maníes peanuts

 

Nouns ending in a consonant (any letter that is not a vowel)

 

Add es to the end of the noun.

 

singular singular plural plural
el pintor painter los pintores painters
el pezón nipple los pezones nipples
el autobús bus los autobuses buses
la mansión mansion las mansiones mansions
el crimen crime los crímenes crimes
el examen exam los exámenes exams

 

Things to note:

 

1)      All nouns ending in a consonant have es added to the end of them.

2)      If a noun ends in en and has more than one syllable and doesn’t have an accent mark (tilde), then one should be added in the plural form.

3)      If a noun ends in either n or s and an accented vowel then the accent mark (tilde), should be dropped in the plural.

 

Nouns ending in z

 

Drop the z and add ces.

 

singular singular plural plural
la luz light las luces
el lápiz pencil los lápices pencils
la vez time las veces times

 

Nouns already ending in s

 

Make no changes to the ending of the verb.

 

singular singular plural plural
el parabrisas windscreen los parabrisas windscreens
el viernes Friday los viernes Fridays
el arco iris rainbow los arco iris rainbows

 

PART 4

 

The final part of the lesson looks at derived nouns. These are nouns whose endings have been altered in some way to change the meaning of the noun. There are various different types of derived nouns. In this lesson we will look at two of the most common types.

 

1) Making nouns sound smaller or more cute

 

The most common way of achieving this is by adding -ito or -ita to the end of a noun. If the noun ends in a vowel the vowel is usually removed first. This is by far the most common type of derived noun.

 

normal noun normal noun derived noun derived noun
la hermana sister la hermanita little sister
la cena dinner la cenita a small dinner
la mesa table la mesita small table
el amor love el amorcito love in a much more cute way
el perro dog el perrito little dog
la propina tip la propinita a small tip

 

Things to note:

 

1)      Almost any noun can be formed in this way.

2)      Masculine nouns end in -ito and feminine nouns end in -ita.

3)      Other ways of making things sound smaller or cuter include adding -uelo or illa/o to the end of nouns. These methods are much less common.

 

Making some nouns sound bigger or of greater importance (Some just change meaning)

 

The most common way of achieving this is by adding ón to the end of the noun. If the noun ends in a vowel the vowel is usually removed first.

 

normal noun normal noun derived noun derived noun
la cuchara spoon el cucharón ladle
la tabla plank el tablón a bigger plank
el monte mountain el montón a heap / pile
la rata rat el ratón mouse
la jarra jug el jarrón vase

 

Things to note:

 

1)      Not all nouns can be formed in this way.

2)      The meanings of some nouns that are formed in this way change.

3)      Derived nouns formed in this way are masculine even if the original noun was feminine.

4)      Some adjectives are also formed in the same way as these types of derived nouns. (la cabeza - head / cabezón - big headed.)

 

That concludes this lesson on nouns part 2. If you have not done so already watch the actual video for this lesson and then try one of the associated quizzes to test your understanding.

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Nouns - Part 2 (Gender and Forming Plurals)
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