Breaking Gender : “A” masculine nouns, “O” feminine nouns

Even though I know that the rule for nouns ending in “ma” is that they are almost always masculine and almost always from a Greek root, I find that I have to keep reminding myself that problema is a masculine noun. “¡Tengo una problema..(damn!) un problema!

This issue led me to put together a list of common masculine and feminine nouns that break the most basic rule of gender in Spanish: ends in “o” = masculine, ends in “a” = feminine. I thought I would share with the wide world of Spanish learners.

“A” Masculine Nouns

el aroma : aroma :: el clima : climate
el cólera : cholera :: el cometa : comet
el cura : priest :: el día : day

el diagrama : diagram :: el dilema : dilemma
el diploma : diploma :: el drama : drama
el enigma : enigma :: el esquema : outline, diagram

el gorila : gorilla :: el guardia : policeman or guard
el guía : male guide :: el idioma : language
el idiota : male idiot :: el indígena : indigenous male

el mapa : map :: el panorama : panorama
el papa : the pope :: el pijama : pajamas
el poema : poem

el policía : policeman :: el planeta : planet
el problema : problem :: el programa : program
el síntoma : symptom, sign :: el sistema : system

el sofá : sofá :: el teorema : theorem
el telegrama : telegram :: el tema : theme, subject
el tranvía : streetcar :: el yoga :  yoga


la disco : disco (short for la discoteca)
la foto : photo (short for la fotografía)
la mano : hand :: la modelo : female model

la moto : motorcycle (short for la motocicleta)
la radio : radio (short for la radiodifusión)
la reo : female criminal :: la soprano : female soprano

la tele : television (short for la televisión)
la testigo : female witness


3 responses to “Breaking Gender : “A” masculine nouns, “O” feminine nouns

  1. Good work! A fair number of these are new to me.

  2. Spanish students always forget the gender of “problema” so a female instructor I knew always told her students, “El problema es masculino. Pero la solución es femenina.”

  3. Ja! I think I’ll actually remember that now. Thanks!