A question about occupation names in the Spanish language.

I see that if somebody is a guitarist, the word "guitarista" doesn't change for males whereas the word "médico" would change to "médica" for a female. To use another example, the word for machinist, "maquinista," does not change to "maquinisto" for males. Why is the word for "doctor" an exception here? What other gendered job titles should I be aware of?

Thanks in advance.

May 21, 2018


Words that end in "-ista" tend to be exceptions to the general rules and retain that ending whether they're masculine or feminine. (The articles that go with them, will, however, change by gender.) This is true, whether the words are names of occupations or political terms (i.e. "socialista") or religious terms (i.e. "budista.".

There are a few other occupational terms that follow the same pattern ("atleta," "policía").

Many other ocupational names, however, follow roughly the patterns you would expect, with the masculine version ending in "-o" and the feminine form in "'-a."

Like many other terms, while you can isolate some patterns, ultimately you have to memorize these.

May 21, 2018

-ista (periodista, futbolista), -eta (atleta) and -ante (estudiante, practicante) don't have different forms for men and women. Others do: -dor/-dora (doctor, doctora), -ero/-era (carnicero, carnicera), -ario/-aria (secretario, secretaria). -ente is weird, because it shouldn't have a feminine form since it comes from a verbal form in Latin similar to "-ing" in English. However, in the last decades, some words have a feminine -enta, especially "presidenta".

"Médica" it can be offensive for a doctor in some countries, because it means something like "witch doctor".

May 22, 2018

Good to know. I would not have guessed that. Would one refer to a female doctor as "la médico" or "el médico"?

May 22, 2018

"La doctora" :D I suppose "la médico", but I'm not sure.

May 22, 2018

Indeed, "médico," in the masculine, is also often used for females.

May 22, 2018
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