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Nouns - Part 1(Gender - Usually Masculine or Feminine?)
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  Verb Tenses  
    An introduction to verbs & personal pronouns  
    Verbs - Ser (to be) Estar (to be)  
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    The past simple tense - regular verbs (I was)  
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Spain v Latin America
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  All About Nouns  
    Nouns - Part 1 - (Masculine or feminine?)  
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    Adverbs - Part 1 - (words ending in -ly in English)  
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    An introduction to prepositions and relative pronouns  
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    Questions and negatives (question words)  
         

   
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Video Lesson
Summary of Lesson
An introduction to nouns. How they are used with definite and indefinite articles (a and the in English), and the importance of gender.
A look at different types of nouns.
Looking at how it may be possible to identify whether a noun is masculine by the way the ending of the noun is spelt.
Looking at how it may be possible to identify whether a noun is feminine by the way the ending of the noun is spelt.
   
  What you can learn from this lesson
   
An appreciation of how all Spanish nouns are either masculine or feminine and understanding the importance that the gender of a noun has on other words they might be used with such as articles and adjectives.
Having a basic understanding of how articles are used with nouns of different genders.
Being able to better identify whether a noun is masculine or feminine by remembering what the endings of some nouns tell us about gender.
Appreciating the importance of remembering whether a noun is masculine or feminine and not just remembering the noun itself.
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PART 1

 

The first part of this lesson explains what nouns are and how they are used in Spanish with definite and indefinite articles (a and the in English).

 

What is a noun?

 

A noun can be defined in the same way in both Spanish and English. They are words which are used to name the things we see around us or the names we give to people, animals, places, ideas or concepts. Here are some examples:

 

table la mesa
tree el árbol
Mrs Álvarez la Señora Álvarez
Maria Maria
poverty la pobreza
love el amor

 

The main difference between how nouns are formed in English and Spanish is that all nouns in Spanish are either masculine or feminine. In English nouns are only considered masculine or feminine if there is an obvious distinction between gender; man and woman for example. In English the word it is used to refer to things that are considered neither masculine nor feminine.

 

In Spanish all things have a gender. Even nouns for inanimate things (things that are not living), have a gender. Spanish nouns are nearly always used with articles which tell us whether the noun is masculine or feminine. The following shows how articles are used with nouns in both Spanish and English. To learn more about articles take a look at the separate lesson on articles.

 

Definite articles English and Spanish.


the floor - el piso (masculine - singular)

the window - la ventana (feminine - singular)

the floors - los pisos (masculine - plural)

the windows las ventanas (feminine - plural)

 

Indefinite articles (use 'an' before nouns beginning with a vowel in English - an apple).


a (an) floor - un piso (masculine - singular)

a (an) window - una ventana   (feminine - singular)

some or any floors - unos pisos  (masculine - plural)

some or any windows - unas ventanas  (feminine - plural)

 

You can see that the absence of gender in English makes the use of articles much easier to remember. In Spanish the article used always depends on whether a noun is masculine or feminine and singular or plural.

 

The genders of Spanish nouns are also very important because they can also determine the gender of other words that they are used with it such as adjectives.

 

La maseta roja. The red flowerpot.
El coche rojo. The red car.

 

PART 2

 

The second part of the lesson looks at different types of nouns. Different names are given to different types of nouns depending on the type of thing that is being named.

 

Proper nouns

 

This is the name given to nouns which refer to specific people, places or things. In English these types of nouns should always take a capital letter. In Spanish this is not always the case.

 

  Spanish English
people Arturo Arturo
places * el Ecuador Ecuador
places * Madrid Madrid
days of the week el lunes Monday
months of the year enero January
religions el cristianismo Christianity
organisations La Copa Mundial The World Cup


Note: *The names of some countries and cities in Spanish take a definite article and some don't. Each place name needs to be learnt individually. Take a look at the separate lesson on articles for more information.

Common nouns

 

These type of nouns refer to people, places and things in a more general way. They are not specific and are the opposite of proper nouns.

 

  Spanish English
people las bailarinas dancers
places el parque park
things el edificio building

Note: A common noun can become a proper noun if it is named specifically; el Parque Central ( Central Park).

 

Concrete nouns

 

A concrete noun is the name given to a noun that can be perceived via the physical senses, touch, smell, sight, hearing and taste.

 

  Spanish English
touch el vidrio glass
smell el aire air
sight la vista the view
hearing el mugido moo
taste la sal salt

 

Abstract nouns

 

These type of nouns are the opposite of concrete nouns and refer to things that can only be perceived by thought rather than via one of the physical senses.

 

Spanish English
el pensamiento a thought
la gripe a cold
la tristeza sadness
la curiosidad curiosity

 

Countable and non countable nouns

 

As the name suggests these nouns refer to these that either can or can’t be physically counted.

 

  Spanish English
countable nouns las flores flowers
  la puerta door
  la hormiga ant
non countable nouns el azúcar sugar
  el café coffee
  el agua water

 

Collective nouns

 

Collective nouns are similar to non countable nouns even though they can be counted. They refer to groups of people, animals or things. The way to distinguish them between non countable nouns is to imagine the things that make up the group. Non countable nouns are made up of individual units of the non countable noun itself; grains of sugar. Collective nouns are made up of individual nouns in their own right; men and women in a team.

 

  Spanish English
people el equipo team
animals la manada herd / pack
things la selección selection

 

Note: A noun will usually fall into more than one category of nouns.

 

PART 3

 

The third part of this lesson looks at how we might be able to identify whether a noun is masculine by studying the ending of the noun. Much of the time no clues are given as to the gender of a noun especially when referring to inanimate objects or ideas. The following are some guidelines which can help us but it must be remembered that there are usually exceptions to most rules!

 

 

1)      Spanish nouns ending in L,O,N (but not ion),E,R or S will normally be masculine. Thinking of the English word ‘loners’ is a good way of remembering the letters.


  example 1 example 2 exceptions
L
el pañal (nappy)  el canal (canal / channel) la sal (salt)
O
el abrigo (coat) el anillo (ring)  la mano (hand)
N
el ratón (mounse)  el pan (bread)  la sartén (frying pan)
E
el cine (cinema)  el muelle (dock) la leche (milk)
R
el líder (leader) el recogedor (dustpan ) la mujer (woman)
S
el cortaúñas (nail clippers) el lavaplatos (dishwasher)  la crisis (crisis)

 

2)      Spanish nouns ending in imiento will usually be masculine.

 

el conocimiento knowledge
el pimiento pepper
el nacimiento birth

 

3)      Spanish nouns ending in ma and pa are quite often masculine. Less certain than rules 2 and 3.

 

  example 1 example 2 exceptions
MA
el clima (climate) el tema (subject)    la cama (bed)
PA
el mapa (map)  el papá (father) la tapa (lid / top / cover)

 

PART 4

 

The fourth part of this lesson looks at how we might be able to identify whether a noun is feminine by studying the ending of the noun. Much of the time no clues are given as to the gender of a noun especially when referring to inanimate objects or ideas. The following are some guidelines which can help us but it must be remembered that there are usually exceptions to most rules!

 

1)      Spanish nouns ending in A, D (often ending in dad or tad), Z and ION will usually be feminine.

 

  example 1 example 2 exceptions
A
la rana (frog)      la manzana (apple) el día (day)
D
la amistad (friendship)  la pared (wall) el césped (lawn / grass)
Z
la luz (light) la niñez (childhood)   el lápiz (pénsil)
ION
la canción (song) la calefacción (heating) el avión (aeroplane)

 

2)      Spanish nouns ending in ITIS which describe to medical conditions are usually feminine.

 

la apendicitis (appendicitis)   la gastritis (gastritis)

 

That concludes this lesson on the nouns part 1. 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 1 - (Gender - Usually Masculine or Feminine?)
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