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