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How to use El and La in Spanish

Most of the time, this rule applies:

If L,O,N,E,R,S is the last letter, it is El

If D,ION,Z,A is the last letter, it is La

March 11, 2014



This should really be moved to the Spanish section, as it applies only to Spanish. You can do that by editing your post. :-)


Looks pretty easy and interesting. I wonder if a native Spanish speaking person can confirm that, or add more endings.


very helpful thank u


Thank you very much !


The O in ION has an accent


I see but thanks again.


La modelo, la mano, la mujer; el artista, el dentista, ...


How about -ión ... is that ending a lock to be feminine? Unlike -a I can't recall offhand an instance where I've seen a word ending in -ión and it wasn't feminine.

Anybody have examples of words ending in -ión being masculine? Just wondering if there are any 100% rules ...


Yep, "el camión" (the truck). For me, the rule is "ción" and "sión" are always feminine.


Some words that came to my mind are these ones/ Algunas palabras que me vinieron a la mente son éstas: "El avión", "El aluvión", "El Bastión", "El Guión or El Guion" (they mean different things), "El Ión", "El Escorpión". I don't get to remember another one but if I do I will share it with you. (I'm a native spanish speaker).


LOL ... yeah, so many exceptions. Anyone know the percentage of Spanish nouns ending in -a that are not feminine? 5%? 10%? Or is it just 1%?

When in doubt (faced with an unknown word) I go with la if it ends in -a but there are a lot of surprising exceptions. http://spanish.about.com/cs/grammar/a/genderreversal.htm


A very common masculine ending that you would expect to be feminine is -ma. For example:

El programa
El idioma
El problema
El drama
El sistema
El tema
El clima
And more!

But there are exceptions to that as well, such as "la dama".


I just put some basic examples


Yes, we are not trying to criticize what you wrote, just pointing out the aggravating exceptions. You did write "Most of the time, this rule applies" so you are covered for the exceptions too.

Thanks for posting. It's actually very useful.


I am just going with what my Spanish teacher says. I also think it is good that people are improving my post. :)


or "La mamá" "La Cima" "La Llama" "La Trama"


I have attempted to answer your question, @Bill-Roca, by posting a question up over at Spanish StackExchange. Thus far, the answers and comments have not been all that definitive, but the Spanish StackExchange has some really knowledgeable and talented people answering questions for it, so, who knows, perhaps a more definitive answer will be posted later. If you'd like to track it, you can access it via the link below:

What percentage of nouns ending in -a are masculine and what percentage of nouns ending in -o are feminine?

Thank you for posting your question. It made me curious about something I had never really thought about before.


That rule only applies sometimes :)


Thanks for this. I am so far having a much easier time with gender in Spanish than I did with German & Ancient Greek, which both have neuter as well as m & f, & very little rhyme or reason about which is which.

(& that reads a little braggy, so for the record, my high school German is rusty a hell & was never fluent, & Ancient Greek was a fascinating hobby for a couple of years, but I'm not sure I could even form a coherent sentence in it anymore).

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