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Learn about gender in Spanish nouns and adjectives.

Many Romance languages assign gender to nouns.  The gender of a noun determines whether you precede it with the article el/los(masculine) or la/las(feminine).  The gender of a noun also determines the ending of an adjective used to describe it.  For example, when describing your father as a tall man, you would use alto.  When describing your mother, however, you would use alta.  If you do not know the gender of the noun and inadvertently use the incorrect ending, you run the risk of confusing (or even offending) your audience.

You can avoid this kind of mistake by memorizing the gender of some frequently used nouns.  This might seem difficult at first, but there are some tricks you can use.  In Spanish, words that end with the vowel "o" are usually of masculine gender, and words that end with the vowel "a" are usually of a feminine gender.  You should also use your common sense.  For example, what do you think is the gender of the Spanish word for man (hombre)? 

Many other nouns have a feminine or masculine essence, though sometimes this is a matter of perspective or interpretation, of course.  For example, the Spanish word for problem (el problema) is a masculine noun even though it has a traditionally feminine ending (-a).  Even though el problema seems to be a tricky one, it is actually pretty easy for most women to remember that the word for problem is masculine; to a man, on the other hand, this might be a hard one to lock into the memory banks. 

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