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Gender of Nouns II (free)

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This episode builds upon the previous episode “Gender of Nouns: Part One.” In that episode, you learned that nouns ending in “o” are usually masculine, and nouns ending in “a” are usually feminine. In this episode, you will learn about the gender of nouns that do not necessarily end with an “o” or an “a.”

There are a lot of nouns that stand for people that have two forms. The masculine form ends in a consonant, and the feminine form ends in the letter “a.” Both words mean basically the same thing, except that one refers to the male person, while the other refers to the female person. The most notable of these pairs of words is one that you are probably familiar with: “señor” and “señora.”

The masculine form, “señor,” ends in a consonant, and the feminine form, “señora,” ends with the letter “a.” They mean the same thing, but one refers to the male person, and the other refers to the female person. “Señor” means “sir” or “gentleman” while “señora” means “ma’am” or “lady.” So, if you see a masculine noun that ends in a consonant and stands for a person, it is likely that there will be a corresponding feminine form that ends with the letter “a.”

Listen now as I say a few word pairs that fall into this category. As I say the words, think about which one is masculine, and which one is feminine.

el profesor, la profesora
el doctor, la doctora
el señor, la señora

Listen again, and as I say each word respond by saying out loud either “masculine” or “feminine.” Remember, for these words the masculine form ends in a consonant while the feminine form ends in the letter “a.”

el profesor
_____

la profesora
_____

el doctor
_____

la doctora
_____

I will now repeat the words again. Again, listen carefully as I say a word in Spanish, but this time after I say it, I want you to repeat it out loud in Spanish. As you say the word in Spanish, just be aware of whether it is a masculine word or a feminine word, but put most of your concentration into imitating the way I say the words. OK, here we go again. Remember, repeat the words after me in Spanish, and just be aware of whether the word is masculine or feminine. Again, in these examples, the masculine forms end in a consonant and feminine forms end in the letter “a.” Listen and repeat.

el profesor
_____

la profesora
_____

el doctor
_____

la doctora
_____

el señor
_____

la señora
_____

Let’s do it again. I’ll say the words, and you try to imitate me as closely as possible. Really concentrate on how I say the words, and try to make your words sound just like mine.

el profesor
_____

la profesora
_____

el doctor
_____

la doctora
_____

el señor
_____

la señora
_____

Now lets try something a little different. Again, I’m going to say the words, and again I want you to repeat them after me, imitating exactly the way I say the words. But this time, as you are saying the words, I want you to think about the meaning of the words! Here we go. Remember, as I say the words, you repeat and at the same time, think about the meaning.

el profesor
_____

la profesora
_____

el doctor
_____

la doctora
_____

Did you think about the meaning after I said the words? Ha! I tricked you again! Just like in the previous episode, I never told you the meaning of the words, but you knew them anyway! (I’m such a sneak!)

In the previous episode, you learned about “loan words” — Spanish words that have found their way into the English language. You learned that these “loan words” are usually spelled the same way in both languages, and that there are subtle differences in how they are pronounced. Their meanings of course, are the same. Loan words are words like taco, burrito, mosquito, salsa and so forth.

There is another, even larger group of words that also appear in both languages. There is often a slight difference in how these words are spelled, but they are usually easy to recognize. The reason these words, called “cognates,” appear in both languages is because they share common roots. Usually, these roots can be traced back to ancient Latin or Greek.

Two of the words we have been using in this lesson are cognates. Listen now as I say these two words, first in English and then in Spanish.

professor, profesor
doctor, doctor

Listen now as I say some more Spanish words. Because they are all cognates, you will very likely understand their meanings.

absoluto, correcto, directo, error, falso

Were you able to detect the meanings of the words I just said? Now I’m going to say them again, this time in Spanish and in English. Listen very carefully and note how the words are pronounced differently in Spanish than they are in English.

absoluto, absolute
correcto, correct
directo, direct
error, error
falso, false

There are many many cognates. This is great news for you, because it means that right away you know the meaning of hundreds, even thousands of Spanish words. But, I feel I must warn you! There are also “false cognates.” These are words that look the same, but do not mean the same thing in both languages. For now, let’s not even think about these “falsos amigos.” Let’s just be thankful for the many true cognates that do exist.

Enough about cognates! Let’s get back to the gender of nouns.

Some nouns that refer to people use the same form for both masculine and feminine. For these nouns, gender is indicated by the article (el or la). You’ll learn more about these “articles” in a later episode, but for now you can just think of them as gender markers, with masculine nouns being preceded by the word “el” and feminine words being preceeded by the word “la.” Listen now as I say a few words. As luck would have it, these words are also cognates.

el estudiante, la estudiante
el pianista, la pianista
el artista, la artista

Now I’ll say them again, this time in both Spanish and English, just in case you weren’t able to detect the meaning.

el estudiante, student
el pianista, pianist
el artista, artist

Finally, listen and repeat. Think about the meaning, and try to make your words sound just like mine.

el estudiante
_____

la estudiante
_____

el pianista
_____

la pianista
_____

el artista
_____

la artista
_____

Muy bien, amigo!

That wraps up our episode on gender of nouns part two.

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