In Portuguese, there are two possible genders: masculine and feminine. Gender is a noun feature, and articles, adjectives and pronouns will agree in gender with nouns they complement. However, verbs and adverbs do not vary gender.
This post is about giving you tips and guidelines to identify a noun’s gender or, at least, make an educated guess about it.
- Nouns ending with ‘-o’ are masculine.
- Nouns ending with ‘-a’ are mostly feminine.
- Some exceptions: dia (day), drama (drama), clima (climate), cometa (comet), planeta (planet), mapa (map), fantasma (ghost), tema (theme), dilema (dilemma), problema (problem), lema (motto), esquema (schema), sistema (system), poema (poem), idioma (language), aroma (aroma), diploma (diploma), telegrama (telegram), chá (tea) and names of letters of the alphabet are all masculine.
- Nouns ending with ‘-m’ are mostly masculine.
- Some exceptions: ordem (order), margem (margin), viagem (travel), ferrugem (rust), origem (origin), vertigem (vertigo) and bagagem (luggage).
- Nouns ending with ‘-n’ are mostly masculine.
- Nouns ending with ‘-ão’ are:
- Masculine if concrete. Exception: mão (hand).
- Feminine if abstract. Example: emoção (emotion).
- Nouns ending with ‘-r’ or ‘-l’ are mostly masculine.
- Some exceptions: catedral (cathedral), moral (moral), flor (flower), dor (pain), cor (color), vogal (vowel), colher (spoon), inicial (initial) and capital (capital).
- Nouns ending with ‘-z’ are mostly masculine.
- Some exceptions: paz (peace), cicatriz (scar), voz (voice), cruz (cross), luz (light), raiz (root), matriz (matrix), foz (mouth of a river) and those nouns ending with ‘-ez’ like timidez (shyness) and palidez (pallor).
- Nouns ending with ‘-s’ or ‘-x’ are mostly masculine.
- Nouns ending with ‘-ate’, ‘-ete’, ‘-ote’ or ‘-ite’ are mostly masculine.
- Exceptions: scientific terms.
- Nouns ending with ‘-ude’ are:
- masculine if concrete.
- feminine if abstract.
- Nouns ending with ‘-arte’ are mostly masculine.
- Some exceptions: arte (art) and parte (part).
- Nouns ending with ‘-ante’, ‘-ente’ or ‘-onte’ are mostly masculine.
- Some exceptions: mente (mind), fonte (source), frente (front), ponte (bridge), lente (lens) and nouns referring to bodies of water.
- Are feminine the nouns ending with:
- ‘-ade’, ‘-ude’, or ‘-ice’ if abstract.
- ‘-ede’, ‘-ide’, ‘-ave’, ‘-ebe’ or ‘-eve’. Exceptions: cabide (hanger).
- ‘-ase’, ‘-asse’, ‘-ace’, ‘-es’, ‘-ece’, ‘-esse’ or ‘-ose’. Some exceptions: passe (pass) and interesse (interest).
- Some nouns have masculine and feminine forms, but have different meanings.
- Examples: a cabeça (the head, part of the body) x o cabeça (person in charge); a capital (the capital city) x o capital (money).
Do not memorize this list. Focus on items from 1 to 8, as the others are meant to support your learning process. Still, the best method to learn genders is and always will be reading (a lot!). Read as much as you can and your ability to recognize a noun’s gender will improve, I swear. Keep studying!
Best wishes on your journey learning Portuguese!