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Course Introduction

1. Nouns & Articles

2. Ser & Estar

3. Nouns & Adjectives

4. Regular Verbs

5. Ser/Estar (Past Tense)

6. Core Irregular Verbs (Present & Past)

7. Imperfect

8. Adverbs

9. Prepositions

10. Stem-changing Verbs - Part 1

11. Stem-changing Verbs - Part 2

12. Imperfect vs. Preterite

13. Syntax: Objects Overview

14. Past Participles & Present Perfect

15. Irregular and Go-verbs (Present)

16. Verbs with Irregular Yo-forms (Past)

17. Direct Object Pronouns

18. Indirect Object Pronouns, Direct & Indirect Object Pronouns Together

19. Reflexive Verbs

20. Verbs like Gustar

21. Present & Past Progressive

22. Past Perfect & Infinitive Constructions

23. Future Simple

24. Conditional

25. The Imperative

Episode #1

Nouns & Articles

I. Intro: Nouns, gender & articles

For our first lesson, we’ll go back to basics. We’re going to talk about nouns, gender, & articles: what they are, why they’re important, how to use them, and a few tricks to identify the meaning of lots of new words you’ve never seen before.

II. Grammar: Gender of nouns

Do you remember what a noun is? A noun gives a name to a person, place, thing, or idea. Nouns answer the question “Who is it?” and “What is it?”

Just like in English, a noun – or sustantivo, in Spanish – is: una persona (a person), un lugar (a place), una cosa (a thing), or una idea (an idea).

Nouns can refer to living things or non-living things. In English, some nouns that refer to living things have gender. Think about words like king/queen, waiter/waitress, bull/cow. They tell you the gender of the person or animal that you’re talking about. Only living things can have gender in English.

Masculine

Feminine

uncle aunt
king queen
waiter waitress
bull cow

In Spanish, living things have gender, too:

Masculine

Feminine

el tío (uncle) la tía (aunt)
el rey (king) la reina (queen)
el camarero (waiter) la camarera (waitress)
el toro (bull) la vaca (cow)

But unlike English, all nouns have gender in Spanish. Living things, like people and animals, have an obvious inherent gender. Everything else – non-living things, places and ideas – all have gender, too. Everything is either masculine or feminine.

Let’s take a look at a few examples:

Masculine

Feminine

el impacto (impact) la diferencia (difference)
el motor (motor) la comunidad (community)
el vocabulario (vocabulary) la comunicación (communication)
el departamento (department) la expresión (expression)

For non-living things, the gender may not seem apparent at first, but there are some easy ways to pick up on a word’s gender, which we’ll cover later.

III. Grammar: Gender of articles

In both English and Spanish, we can refer to nouns in general terms (indefinite), or specific terms (definite). It’s the difference between saying “a boy” and “the boy.” In English, the words “a” and “the” are called articles. “a/an/some” are indefinite articles, and “the” is the definite article.

Remember what we said about all nouns having gender in Spanish? That applies to the articles, too. While English has a total of 4 articles, Spanish has 8. One set that is masculine, and one set that is feminine.
  • The indefinite articles are un, una, unos, unas
  • And the definite articles are el, la, los, las
Let’s look at an example with chico y chica, which mean boy and girl:

Indefinite article: un, una, unos, unas

Definite article: el, la, los, las

Singular

Plural

Singular

Plural

masculine

un chico unos chicos el chico los chicos

feminine

una chica unas chicas la chica las chicas

IV. Gender patterns

Now let’s start building up your vocabulary by learning a few simple patterns:

1. Many nouns that denote living things have both a masculine and a feminine form.
  • Most nouns that end in -o are masculine = tío, chico, amigo
  • Most nouns that end in -a are feminine = tía, chica, amiga
2. Masculine nouns that end in a consonant often have a corresponding feminine form that ends in -a.
  • el director, la directora
  • el profesor, la profesora
  • el campeón, la campeona
  • el bailarín, la bailarina
3. Some nouns that refer to people use the same form for both masculine and feminine. These nouns indicate gender by the article (el or la).
  • el artista, la artista
  • el cliente, la cliente
  • el líder, la líder
4. To form the plural of a noun, add -s if the word ends in a vowel, and -es if it ends in a consonant.
  • El artista, los artistas
  • La líder, las líderes
The takeaway: Some nouns in English have gender, all nouns in Spanish have gender.