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Is the noun, "estudiante," always masculine, even if the speaker is refering to a female student? Similarly, but the reverse, is the noun, "secretaria," always feminine even if referencing a male secretary? Why does gender matter for "medicos/as;" maestros/os;" and "camareros/as?" Why does the gender of the actual "jugador" matter in the plural if if it doesn't matter in the singular, and it doesn't matter for "estudiante" or "secretaria?"
No. Some nouns can take el or la depending on the gender of the person. E.g. estudiante, poeta, dentista, periodista (actually, any profession ending in -ista). These nouns are the exception rather than the rule in Spanish. You can’t do this with most nouns. There are even some nouns that can change article but the meaning changes. (e.g la radio: radio; el radio: radius)
As for secretaria, it has a masculine form, el secretario, just like most nouns relating to people.
Thank you . . . Just to clarify . . . the ending of those nouns does not change, but the article does. Is that correct (for "estudiante," "dentista," "poeta," etc.)? Secretaria does change (article as well as ending). What about "jugador?" Is that "el jugador" y "la jugador" in the singular, pero "los jugadores" y "las jugadoras" in the plural? Thanks again! Very helpful!
I, too, used "Los" and was marked wrong. My Spanish online dictionary says "estudiante" can be masculine ("el") or feminine ("la") with no change to the spelling of "estudiante". I, too, expected to see "Another solution" at the bottom of the screen. Instead WRONG was shown!