In English, it is quite simple: the concept of gender in terms of nouns does not exist. A noun does not have a masculine or feminine designation. On the other hand, in Spanish, nouns do have genders, which often determines the spelling of other words in the sentence, such as articles, and adjectives.
Let’s take for example the definite article in relation with the gender of nouns in Spanish. In English, we use the word “the” as a definite article and its main role is to indicate a specific person or thing. In Spanish, however, there are 4 definite articles which translate into the word “the”.
We have the following:
Masculine el los
Feminine la las
Below are some examples in order for you to get an idea of the definite article and when we use it.
- El perro está durmiendo. ( = The dog is sleeping.)
- Los chicos juegan en el parque. (= The boys play in the park.)
- No he visto la nueva película. (= I have not seen the new movie.)
- He perdido las llaves de mi casa. (= I have lost the keys to my house.)
So, here comes another question. When do we use the definite article in the Spanish language? Below are some of the most frequent cases.
- With nouns that have either a general or an abstract sense:
Example: No me acuerdo mucho de mi infancia. (= I do not remember much about my childhood.)
- With nouns in a specific sense:
Example: La madre de Juan no le deja salir. (= Juan’s mother does not let him go out.)
- With names of languages
Example: No me gusta el francés. (= I do not like French.)
Exception: when the name of a language is situated after the verb hablar or after the prepositions de and en.
Examples: Ella no habla chino. (= She does not speak Chinese.)
Me ha hablado de su nuevo profesor de inglés. (= Se has spoken to me about her new English teacher.)
Ana le ha escrito una carta en alemán a su amiga. (= Ana has written a letter in German to her friend.)
- With last names
Example: Los Alonso no han venido a la reunión. (= The Alonsos have not come to the reunion.)
- With days of the week
Example: El lunes no va a ir al gimnasio. (= On Monday she is not going to go to the gym.)
- With dates
Example: Su aniversario es el cinco de julio. (= Their anniversary is the 5th of July.)
- With the hour of the day and other time expressions
Examples: Son las cinco y media. (= It is five thirty.)
No le deja salir por la noche. (= He is not allowed to go out at night.)
This is more or less what you have to know about the gender in Spanish in relation with the definite article. For other grammar issues, do not hesitate to look around this site. You might be amazed about what you will find.
If you want to practice your Spanish conversation or take Spanish classes online, do not hesitate to write me. I may be able to help you because I also teach Spanish to foreign speakers.