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Spanish Word Gender& Number
In Spanish every noun has a gender, it is either masculine or feminine.
Nouns that end in –o are usually masculine.
Spanish masculine nounschico = boy gato = cat zapato = shoe
Of course there will always be exceptions!la mano = the handalthough mano ends in ‘o’ this is a feminine noun
Nouns that end in –a are usually feminine.
Spanish feminine nounschica = girl gata = cat luna = moon
Exceptions Now it would be wonderful if the –o and –a ending rule always worked for us to know if a noun was masculine or feminine but there are some exceptions.
Exceptions for nouns ending in ‘a’There is a small group of words that come from the Greek language that end with –ma, -pa or –ta and these words are masculine.el problema = the problemel tema = the theme, subjectel sistema = the systemel mapa = the mapel poeta = the poetel planeta = the planetel clima = the climate, the weather
Other common exceptions are …el día – the day, daytimeel mediodía – noonel gorila – the gorillael pijama – pajamasel sofá – sofa
But back to the easy ones, decide if these nouns are masculine or feminine by looking at their –o or –a endings (no tricks here)la abuela (grandmother)el cartero (mailman/postman)la revista (magazine)el niño (child/son)el tío (uncle)la reunion (meeting)el teatro (theater)el abuelo (grandfather)el dormitorio (bedroom) la enfermera (nurse) la profesora (teacher)la hija (daughter)el libro (book)la rosa (rose)la guitarra (guitar)la piscina (pool)
How did you do?la abuela (grandmother) feminineel cartero (mailman/postman) masculinela revista (magazine) feminineel niño (child/son) masculineel tío (uncle) masculinela reunion (meeting) feminineel teatro (theater) masculineel abuelo (grandfather) masculineel dormitorio (bedroom) masculinela enfermera (nurse) femininela profesora (teacher) femininela hija (daughter) feminineel libro (book) masculinela rosa (rose) femininela guitarra (guitar) femininela piscina (pool) feminine
‘The’Did you notice that each noun had either ‘el’ or ‘la’ in front of it?These are two of the Spanish words that mean ‘the’. ‘El’ and ‘la’ are called ‘definite articles’ because they indicate ‘definite’ or ‘specific’ nouns.Just like nouns, definite articles are either masculine (el) or feminine (la).
Definite & Indefinite ArticlesThe definite article ‘the’ allows us to refer to a definite or specific noun.‘the’ pencil – ‘el’ lapiz (the one on the table or the one that I’m pointing to etc)The indefinite articles ‘a’ or ‘some’ allow us to speak about nouns in a general or non-specific way.‘a’ pencil – ‘un’lapiz (any old pencil) or ‘some’ pencils – ‘unos’ lapices (any old pencils)
A closer look at articlesThe English definite article is ‘the’.The English indefinite articles are ‘a’, ‘an’ and ‘some’.
There are more articles in Spanish than there are in English:The definite articles ‘el’, ‘la’, ‘los’ and ‘las’ all mean ‘the’ but as you can see there are masculine and feminine, singular and plural forms.
And then you have the indefinite articles …‘Un’ or ‘una’ meaning ‘a’ (nb these words also mean ‘one’)and ‘unas’ and ‘unos’ meaning ‘some’.
Nouns with their articlesMasculine articles go with masculine nounsthe man: el hombrea man: un hombreFeminine articles go with feminine nounsthe woman: la mujera woman: una mujer
Your turn …. change ‘the’ to ‘a’ – make sure that you use the right gender, masculine or feminine. Eg. the man a man el hombre un hombrela señorita (the young lady) ____ señorita (a young lady)el chico (the boy) ____ chico (a boy)la mesa (the table) ____ mesa (a table)
Did you say?la señorita (the young lady) una señorita (a young lady)el chico (the boy) un chico (a boy)la mesa (the table) una mesa (a table)If so, well done!
Nouns can also be singular or pluralapple applesIf you want to make a noun plural: just add an -s if the noun ends in a vowel, or add an -es if the noun ends in a consonant manzana = apple manzanas = applesmujer = woman mujeres = womenhombre = man hombres = men
Change these nouns from singular to plural.Eg. mesa (table) mesas (tables)libro (book) _______ (books)mujer (woman) _______ (women)hombre (man) _______ (men)pared (wall) ______ (walls)
You will need to use the plural articles with plural nouns.Eg. The children. Los niños.Some children. Unos niños.
See how these singular nouns go with singular articles, but that the plural nouns go with plural articlesthe man: el hombrethe men: los hombressome men: unos hombresthe woman: la mujerthe women: las mujeressome women: unas mujeres
Try this exercise!Depending on the gender and number of the noun, add the correct article.Eg. The men. Los hombres Some men. Unos hombres.The children. ____ niños.Some children. ____ niños.The girls. ____ chicas.Some girls. ____ chicas.The books. ____ libros.Some books. ____ libros.The tables. ____ mesas.Some tables. ____ mesas.
How did you do?The children. Los niños.Some children. Unos niños.The girls. Las chicas.Some girls. Unas chicas.The books. Los libros.Some books. Unos libros.The tables. Las mesas.Some tables. Unas mesas.
Everything must agree!We’ve learnt that nouns and their articles need to match, they can be singular or plural, masculine or feminine.El libro. The book. Los libros. The books.La mesa. The table. Las mesas. The tables. This rule also applies to words that describe nouns – adjectives.In English, adjectives usually go before the noun that they refer to, the ‘red’ book. But in Spanish they usually go after the noun.Try to train your ear to listen out for the similar sounds in a row of words in a sentence. (Masc/Sing) The red book. El libro rojo. (Fem/Sing) The red table. La mesa roja. (Masc/Pl) The red books. Los libros rojos. (Fem/Pl) The red tables. Las mesas rojas.
Here are some more adjectives that match the nouns that they describe - can you identify the masculine or feminine, singular or plural forms?El hombre gordo. = The fat man.Los hombres gordos. = The fat men.La mujer gorda. = The fat woman.Las mujeres gordas. = The fat women.
gordo = fat (masculine singular) gorda = fat (feminine singular)gordos = fat (masculine plural) gordas = fat (feminine plural) El chico _________. (The fat boy.) La chica ____________. (The fat girl.)Los chicos ______. (The fat boys.) Las chicas ________. (The fat girls.)Can you choose the right form of gordo to complete the sentences?
You should have said …El chico gordo. (The fat boy.) La chica gorda. (The fat girl.)Los chicos gordos. (The fat boys.) Las chicas gordas. (The fat girls.)If you did, well done!
Some nouns are feminine but are used with the masculine singular articleAgua is still really feminine noun, but to make it easier to say, it borrows the masculine singular article ‘el’.For the plural form it goes back to using the feminine plural articles ‘las’ or ‘unas’ as usual.el agua (water)las aguas (the waters), unas aguas (some waters)
Now let’s see how much you can remember, fill in the gaps …In Spanish every ______ has a gender, it is either masculine or feminine.Nouns that end in –o are usually ________ and nouns that end in –a are usually _________.There are exceptions however, what gender are the following words? mapa, mano, día, agua, tema, planeta, sofa, mediodía?What are the four Spanish words that mean ‘the’?How do you say ‘a’ and ‘some’ in Spanish (four options)?How would you translate ‘the white tables’?What about ‘the white books’?What is special about ‘agua’ in its singular form?
How did you do?In Spanish every noun has a gender, it is either masculine or feminine.Nouns that end in –o are usually masculine and nouns that end in –a are usually feminine.There are exceptions however, what gender are the following words? mapa (masc), mano (fem), día (masc), agua (fem), tema (masc), planeta (masc), sofa (masc), mediodía (masc)?What are the four Spanish words that mean ‘the’? el,la, los, lasHow do you say ‘a’ and ‘some’ in Spanish (five options)? un, una, unos, unasHow would you translate ‘the white tables’? las mesas blancasWhat about ‘the white books’? los libros blancosWhat’s special about ‘agua’ (water) in its singular form? It borrows the masculine article ‘el’ to make it easier to pronounce.
Well done, if you were able to answer the previous questions I think you are ready to move on to the next subject. But if you would like to know more about nouns and their gender, the following is supplementary information.
What about nouns that don’t end in o or a how can you know if they are masculine or feminine?Here are some general rules …..Nouns ending in -dad / -tad / -tud are normally femininela ciudad = the cityla edad = the agela universidad = the university
Can you make those nouns plural?la ciudad = the cityla edad = the agela universidad = the universityhmmmm….
Did you say? ….las ciudades = the citieslas edades = the ageslas universidades = the universitiesThen you would be quite right!
Nouns that end in –cion / -sión / -gion are usually femininela canción = the songla estación = the stationla lección = the lesson
… so are nouns that refer to women:la madre – motherla mujer – woman, wifela chica – the girlla hija – the daughterla tía – the auntla abuela – the grandma
Nouns with a stressed ‘a’ or ‘ha’ syllable at the beginningIn their singular form these nouns borrow the masculine singular pronouns "el” and "un" .el asma (asthma), el habla (speech), el hada (fairy), el hambre (hunger)But in their plural forms, it's back to normal with the feminine articles ….el alma (soul) las almas (souls)
Some nouns have different meanings depending on which article you with them.el capital = capital la capital = capital cityel cólera = cholera la cólera = anger, bileel coma = coma la coma = commael corte = cut la corte = courtel cura = priest la cura = cureel final = ending la final = sports finalel frente = front la frente = foreheadel papa = the pope la papa = potatoel pendiente = earring la pendiente = slope, hillsideel pez = fish la pez = tar, pitch
Abstract nouns ending in –ez are also usually femininerigidez – rigidityla sensatez – sobernessla validez – validityla vejez - old age, oldnessSo are nouns ending –trizla actriz – the actressla directriz – the directivela emperatriz – the empress
More feminine nounsNouns ending in –umbrela costumbre (habit, custom)la incertidumbre (uncertainty, doubt)la legumbre (legume)Nouns that are feminine in their full form stay feminine even when shortened:la disco* – la discotecala foto – la fotografíala moto – la motocicletala tele – la televisión*(but when referring to a disk it’s el disco, masc)
Masculine Noun EndingsMost nouns that end in –r, -l, -s and –n will be masculine.Other endings that can indicate a masculine noun include …. – ambre and –ajeel alambre = wireel enjambre = swarm of beesel equipaje = luggageel paisaje = landscape
More masculine noun endingsNouns that end in –or or –án are usually masculine as are those that end in a stressed vowel (í, ú etc). el amor = loveel calor = heatel sudor = sweatel champú = shampoo
Nouns that refer to peopleSome nouns referring to people don’t change their endings but used with the feminine article they refer to a female and with the masculine article they refer to a male. la modelo = the model el modelo = the modelA number of these nouns end in –ista or –crata.un/una amante = a lover un/una guía = a (tour) guide el/la idiota = the idiot, el/la testigo = the witnessel/la artista = artist el/la florista = florist el/la aristócrata = aristocrat
Would you like to see how much you remember?Name the Spanish singular masculine article that means ‘the’.How about the feminine ‘one’ that also means ‘the’? What are the plural forms of ‘el’ and ‘la’?Now can you tell me the two Spanish words for ‘some’?Halfway there, now let’s test those noun endings, are these nouns masculine or feminine?: alambre? and how about lección? And what’s different about ‘mano’ (hand)?
And here you have the answers.Name the Spanish singular masculine article that means ‘the’: elHow about the feminine one that also means ‘the’? laWhat are the plural forms of ‘el’ and ‘la’? los and lasNow can you tell me the two Spanish words for ‘some’? unos or unasNow let’s test those noun endings, are these nouns masculine or feminine?alambre? masculine because it has the –ambre ending lección? feminine because it has the -ción ending. And what’s different about ‘mano’ (hand)? It ends in ‘o’ but it’s a feminine noun, la mano. Top work – ¡bien hecho! I think you’re ready to move on to the next subject!