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https://www.duolingo.com/Ivy_2819

Rules for el,la and una,un in nouns

Hello, I have to say, I've been struggling with w/ this problem. I do read the instruction, it says la and una for nouns end w/ "a" and el, un for nouns end w/ "o". But not every word ends w/ a or o. For e.g: pan, leche,...Plus, there are some words that don't follow the rule right? Like agua is El agua :/ I'm on Basic 1, hope you guys can help me :)

5 years ago

14 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Babella

Hi!

The problem is that rule is not completely trustworthy, because as you said, there are words that do not end with an "a" or an "o" (el pan, la leche, la canción, el palacete) and some that do but are the opposite gender ("sofá" is masculine despite ending with an "a", same as "mano" is feminine). It is a general rule that can help people that is beginning to learn Spanish, but you will found tons of words that do not follow it and the only way I know to learn what is feminine or masculine is repetition. You will get used to see it and learn it by heart, that is all I can say, because we Spanish speakers learn it that way, there is no rule they teach us to explain why a word is masculine or feminine.

"Agua" is a bit different, though! It is actually a feminine word and there is a rule to explain why it needs to be "el agua": when a word starts with a stressed "a" (Agua, ARma, but not arMAda or araÑAzo) we use "el" or "un" because they sound better. So if you start the words with a stressed syllabe, use the masculine (that does not apply for plurals, we have the "s" there to separate the "a" sounds: las aguas, las armas).

Hope the explanation was understandable and helped you. Cheers!

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Ivy_2819

Thank you very much :) I've also ask one of my Spanish friend, he also said that there is no specific rule for that. I guess I have to learn it by experience then. About "Agua", thank you so much for explained it. I did ask some Spanish-speakers about it, but they just simply said "it doesn't sound right" and nothing more. Through your explanation, I understood about the stress and other things now :)

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Babella

You are welcome, Ivy :] I am glad I could help!

Yes, it is one of those little things you learn with time and practice, but as you see by other natives' answers, even some of us get it wrong and if you say "la agua" we would be able to understand you anyway. I must say that even if "una agua" is not used but still correct, that is not the case for "la agua", though! I did not link to it before because I thought it would not be that useful since it is in Spanish, but in the official Spanish dictionary (in the FAQ section, actually), they mention it:

http://www.rae.es/rae/gestores/gespub000018.nsf/%28voAnexos%29/arch8100821B76809110C12571B80038BA4A/$File/CuestionesparaelFAQdeconsultas.htm#ap10

In case it is useful for someone :]

Cheers and keep the good work ^w^

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Salxandra
Salxandra
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I wouldn't have been able to follow the Spanish explanation without your English explanation, but I think I understood. I thought it was interesting that if you intersperse a word between the "the" and "agua", such as "misma", then, "agua" reverts back to "la" as in "la misma agua" but, it makes sense when you understand that you only switch "la" out to avoid the double vowel.

I still don't understand why it was such a big deal for Spanish speakers that they needed to avoid the double "a". It makes me wonder if there's a word, "lagua" or if it's just that in fluent Spanish, "la" is essentially said without any pause between it and its noun. I don't know if I'm explaining myself well, but regardless, it doesn't really matter because I understand how to use the rule now.

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Babella

"Lagua" is a word, apparently: a type of soup! XD I did not know, but looked for it and here it is: http://lema.rae.es/drae/?val=lagua I do not think that is the reason, though, since it happens with other words that cannot be confused. I think that it is mostly about some old rule establishing it was like that and then it passing on generations.

I am not sure about how other articles+nouns sound, because when I hear English natives speak I also feel it all melts together, but it definetely sounds a bit weird to say "la agua", as if you said "laaaagua" XD

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Salxandra
Salxandra
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I was going to say that we don't do this in English. But, apparently, there are two different ways of pronouncing the word, "the." Wow, I wasn't even aware that I was doing this. One version is usually placed in front of words starting with a vowel, and the other version is put in front of words starting with a consonant. And, of course, we add the letter "n" to "a" when it proceeds a word that begins with a vowel sound, such as "an apple" rather than "a banana".

And, I thought Spanish was obnoxious with this, but apparently, English is even more obnoxious with this kind of stuff.

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Salxandra
Salxandra
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@Babella Would you mind providing a few examples of the "el agua'. I'm not familiar with it, and if I could see it in context, I might be able to understand it better.

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Babella

Sure! It does not depend on the context, though. Let's start saying that "agua" is a feminine word, so you should use "la", "una" and the feminine adjectives (sana instead of sano (healthy), clara instead of claro (clear), etc.), that follows the general rule. The way you pronounce "agua" makes the difference, you say "a-gua" and the strong syllabe is the first one, that is why instead of "la" and "una" we use "el" and "un", because it sounds kind of weird to say "LAAgua" or "UNAAgua" when the first syllabe is the stressed one. ("Una agua" is not incorrect, though, but it is not used often).

The rule you have to remember is this: feminine words starting with a stressed a = el, un. The rest does not change at all and if something is between the article and that noun, the rule does not apply. Examples:

Water is healthy = El agua es sana

I have a water = Yo tengo un agua

The waters = Las aguas

Some waters = Algunas aguas

The best water = La mejor agua

*The sentences are a bit weird, but I could not think of sentences that made more sense, sorry! We could use "arma" (weapon) instead that works the same way and it is easier to make sense with:

The weapon is dangerous = El arma es peligrosa

A dangerous weapon = Un arma peligrosa

The weapons were there = Las armas estaban allí

The best weapon = La mejor arma

Was it clear? :]

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Salxandra
Salxandra
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@ Babella awesome.

I wasn't sure what you meant by "agua" still being feminine except that you use "el", but I was guessing that you meant adjective agreement. And, those sentences clearly show that that's what you meant.

Thank you

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Salxandra
Salxandra
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Is "dia" also an exception or is "dia" truly masculine?

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Babella

You are welcome ^^ Día is masculine ;]

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Salxandra
Salxandra
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Duh, I just realized that "el dia" would have to be masculine.

The exception for "el agua" all hinges on first letter of "agua" being the letter "a" and it not sounding proper following "una" or "la".

It's starting to make sense.

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Babella

@SAlxandra: yay! I am glad you realized it, you will do it naturally with time, you will see! :]

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Babella

@ SAlxandra: Oh. OH! O_O So that is why sometimes I hear that "the" sounds a bit different! I thought it was a matter of accents or me not hearing that well or something. Thanks for the information, I had no idea either.

Yes, the letter "n" is more or less the same :]

Hahaha, in the end, all languages have their little things ;]

5 years ago