The definite article in Spanish (the word that primarily translatesEnglish "the") counts on the gender of thenoun. All nouns in Spanish are generally either masculine orfeminine. In general:

specific endings strongly dictate the gender of a noun(e.g. nouns ending in -ión are nearly alwaysfeminine; those ending in -or are almost constantly masculine); nouns that describe people— and also certain widespread animalstend tofollow the sex of the person/pet they refer to; tbelow are a couple of arbitrary exceptions.

You are watching: When do you use el or la in spanish

To pick in between el and also la, the initially stage is todetermine the sex of the noun. Then, the generalascendancy is:

use el with masculine nouns; usage la via feminine nouns; usage el immediately before feminine nounsthat start via a stressed "a" vowel (el agua).

The last item is the one that it"s basic to forget.Tright here are an extremely tiny number of other exceptions, some of which aren"twidely agreed upon.

So the question of whether to use el or la essentiallyboils down to: just how perform you guess the sex of a Spanish noun?

Basic gender rules

The adhering to are the most prevalent trends for telling whether a Spanish nounis masculine or feminine, and therefore whether to use el or la.Keep in mind that rules referring to endings commonly apply to words of even more than onesyllable1. So for example, whilst words ending in -ieare primarily feminine, the word pie (="foot") is masculine.

See more: Part Of A Not So Clean Slate Crossword Clue, The Clean Slate

Words finishing...GenderExample
-oMasculineel niñothe boy
-aFemininela niñathe girl
-istaFollows the gender of the personel/la pianistathe male/female pianist
-iónFemininela estaciónthe station
-ad, -udFemininela verdadthe truthla actitudthe attitude
Other nouns ending in a consonantMasculineel colorthe colour
-ajeMasculineel equipajethe luggage
-anteGenerally masculine unless referring to a femaleel desodorantethe deodorantla cantantethe (female) singer
-ieFemininela seriethe series
-e(Gender of the perchild if referring to a perchild, else check dictionary)el trastethe dish/item of junkla frentethe forehead
Short creates of wordsFollow the pattern of the "full" wordla foto(grafía)the photo(graph)la moto(cicleta)the motorbike
Wbelow another apparent noun representing the "category" is implied (e.g. "río", "coche", "vino", "equipo")2Follow the gender of the implied "category" nounIn all these examples, the noun in brackets is mostly rerelocated, yet the phrase keeps its gender:el (equipo) MadridMadrid (the footsphere team)el (Monte) Everest(Mount) Everestel (coche) Mercedes rojothe red Mercedesla (montaña) MalincheMalinche (name of a hill in Mexico)

1. Strictly speaking, they tend to use as soon as the givenfinishing is a derivational suffix (an finishing offered to derive oneword from another). But periodically it"s hard to tell whether the finishing isderivational or not, and "even more than one syllable" is typically a great enoughapproximation.2. Tright here are some exceptions or situations of disagreement or geographical variation. For example,Butt&Benjamin offer el champaña,however in Mexico at leastern, speakers show up to make champañafeminine (also referring to the drink), although the alternativeel champán is constantly masculine.

Usual exceptions

Tright here are assorted exceptions to the over patterns, yet the complying with aresome of the many common:

el día, el mediodíathe day, (the) middayla manothe handel mapathe mapel pandathe pandala pielthe skinWords finishing in -ma that are the exact same or equivalent to English:el poema, el sistemathe poem, the system
Suggest a adjust / Cambios sugeridos

Español-Inglés homeReview to Spanish verbsSpanish-English dictionary