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Lesson Transcript

Hi everybody! Rosa here. Welcome to Ask a Teacher, where I'll answer some of your most common Spanish questions.
The question for this lesson is, How can you tell if a noun is masculine or feminine?
In Spanish, every noun has a gender. That applies to plural nouns, too.
Other Romance languages have masculine and feminine nouns, too. It’s a trait that comes from Latin, and the gender can depend on its origin in an older Latin word.
English doesn’t have masculine and feminine nouns, so the easiest way to tell the gender of a noun is by looking at the last letter of the noun.
The general rule is that if a noun ends with an -a, it's feminine. For example, la manzana, meaning "the apple," la ventana, "the window," and la casa, "the house."
Nouns that end with an -o are generally masculine, like el horno, "the oven," el perro, "the dog," and el libro, "the book."
The only thing is, there are a lot of exceptions. Just to name a few, el mapa, meaning "the map," is masculine even though it ends with an -a. El día, "the day," is also masculine.
Some other examples are La foto, meaning "the photo," which is feminine even though it ends with an -o. La mano, "the hand" is also feminine.
Because there are so many exceptions, it's best to learn nouns with their articles. These are like "the" and "a" in English. For Spanish, it's el or un for masculine nouns and la or una for feminine nouns.
However, -o and -a are not the only indicators for masculine and feminine nouns. Here are a few others:
Nouns that end in -e, -ma or an accented vowel such as í, are often masculine. El perfume, "the perfume," el programa, "the program," and el colibrí, "the hummingbird" are all masculine.
On the other hand, nouns that end with -d, -z or -ión are often feminine. La felicidad, which is "happiness," la nariz, "the nose," and la religión, "religion" are all feminine.
It's important to remember what gender a noun is, because often it influences other parts of a sentence.
Adjectives in particular change their spelling according to the gender of the nouns they modify.
It goes a bit like this:
"A notebook," un cuaderno, is masculine. So to say "a red notebook," you'd say, un cuaderno rojo.
"An apple," una manzana, is feminine. So "a red apple," is una manzana roja, with rojo changing to roja spelled with an -a.
I hope that answers the question. If you have any more questions, please leave them in the comments below, and I'll try to answer them!
¡Hasta luego!