For native English speakers, the idea of masculine and feminine nouns and agreements is initially a hard one to grasp. After all, how could an object be a man or a woman? Gender is something that is very common among the languages of the world, and English is one of the few languages that have very few agreements. On the other hand, Latin languages, such as French, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese divide their nouns into masculine and feminine.
How can you tell if a noun is masculine or feminine?
There are some general rules about how you can tell if a noun is masculine or feminine, but sometimes these rules have exceptions and sometimes it is just a matter of memorising which nouns are which. For example, generally nouns that end in “a” are feminine and words that end in “o” are masculine. However, an exception is the word “un problema” (a problem) which ends in an “a” but is a masculine noun. Likewise, most nouns that end in “ión” are feminine, for example “contaminación” (pollution). Furthermore, there are words that are feminine but have to take masculine articles due to the letter that they start with – this is for ease of pronunciation. An example of this would be the word “el agua” (the water).
What changes with masculine and feminine nouns?
Depending on whether the word is masculine or feminine, the articles, adjective agreements, past participles, demonstrative pronouns and object pronouns, among other aspects, all change. For example, “El reloj negro es viejo y está roto”, which means, “The black watch is old and broken”. If we were talking about a feminine subject the sentence would change quite a lot, for example, “La mesa negra es vieja y está rota”, meaning, “The black table is old and broken”.
How can you avoid making masculine and feminine agreement mistakes?
Making mistakes is very common and not something to be ashamed of. The only way to overcome this is to study and to practice. Making a mistake like this will not impend your ability to be understood. Therefore, the best way to go about eliminating these mistakes is to let yourself be corrected, write down your corrected sentences and learn from them – it will come with time!
At London Spanish Academy we understand that there are certain aspects of learning a language which are hard to grasp and difficult to put into practice. For this reason, we put together tailored course outlines that work on your weaknesses and allow for regular assessment of your needs, progress and goals. If you need help combating the masculine and feminine agreements, just give us a call and we’d be more than happy to help!