Spanish Lessons


Flexible Positions

Because there is no hard and fast rule to absolutely determine the gender of a noun by looking at it, you may recall that we recently advised you to always learn a noun with its article (el, la). Yet you still need to be careful, as some nouns can take either article.


Many Spanish nouns that end in ente or ante use the same form for masculine and feminine. These include el/la dibujante (the draftsman), el/la asistente (the assistant), el/la estudiante (the student), el/la paciente (the patient), el/la amante (the lover), el/la cliente (the client). See how Crista and David, who we interviewed on separate occasions in Mexico City, both introduce themselves as estudiante:

Mi nombre es Crista Pérez... y soy estudiante de economía.

My name is Crista Perez... and I am a student of economics.

Captions 1-2, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana - Crista Pérez

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Mi nombre es David del Valle. Tengo veintiún años y soy estudiante de negocios internacionales.

My name is David del Valle. I'm twenty-one years old and I'm a student of international business.

Captions 1-2, Amigos D.F. - Consejos para la calle

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Some of these nouns have recently accepted a feminine form ending in enta or anta, so you can say la presidenta (the female president), la clienta (the female client) and la sirvienta (the maid). This is not possible in all cases; for example you can never say “la estudianta,” “la pacienta,” or “la asistenta."


Yo ya sé que Andrea es una tonta por estar celosa de una sirvienta.

I know that Andrea is silly for being jealous of a maid.

Caption 54, Muñeca Brava - 41 La Fiesta - Part 7

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The same is true for nouns for roles or professions that end in a: el/la contrabandista (the smuggler), el/la policía (the police officer), el/la turista (the tourist), el/la baterista (the drummer), el/la artista (the artist). Notice how both circus artist Francisco Javier and Colombian TV star Natalia Oreiro refer to themselves as artista, but change the article based on their respective genders.


Sí, tú sabes que con el tiempo uno llega a ser un artista completo.

Yes, you know that with time you become a complete artist.

Caption 26, Circo Infantil de Nicaragua - Learning the Trade

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...porque yo ya me creía una artista de verdad.

...since I believed myself to be a real artist.

Caption 75, Biografía - Natalia Oreiro - Part 4

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You can read more lessons about gender in Spanish:
Lo: The Neuter G
Gender Reversals: "El Alma" and more


Ganas: What We Want to Do

Pensamos que el agua, que el aire, que el suelo es nuestro y podemos hacer lo que nos dé la gana. No es cierto.

We think that the water, the air, the land is all ours and we can make what we feel like. That's not true.

Captions 10-13, De consumidor a persona - Short Film - Part 2

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Gana, meaning "wish" or "will," is a noun that plays a key role to express wishes or desires in Spanish. The expression darle (a alguien) la gana means "to feel like" or "to want to."

lo que me dé la gana
what I feel like

lo que te dé la gana
what you feel like


...y te puedes venir aquí cuando te dé la gana, ¿yo te voy a perdonar?

...and you can come here whenever you feel like it, I am going to forgive you?

Caption 22, Yago - 11 Prisión

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lo que le dé la gana
what you feel like / what he-she feels like


¡Salte de alegría cuando le dé la gana!

Jump for joy whenever you feel like it!

Caption 4, Kikirikí - Animales

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lo que les dé la gana
what you [pl.] feel like / what they feel like


¿Hasta cuándo van a seguir haciendo lo que les dé la gana?

Until when are you guys going to keep doing whatever you [pl.] feel like?

Caption 42, Los Años Maravillosos - Capítulo 3

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Even more common is the pairing of the verb tener ("to have") with the plural ganas, as in:


Tenía ganas de hacer algo, con eso y...

I wanted to do something, with it and...

Caption 68, Biografía - Natalia Oreiro

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Natalia is saying: "I wanted to do something with this." The word-for-word translation might have you thinking she had the will to do it, but common understanding is simply that she felt like it, or wanted to do it.


Tengo muchas ganas de aprender español.
I really want to learn Spanish.


A mí... yo tengo muchas ganas.

I... I really want to.

Caption 21, Amaya - Teatro romano

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No tengo ganas de parar ahora.
I don't want to stop now.


Gracias, Merycita, pero no tengo ganas de jugar.

Thank you, Merycita, but I don't feel like playing.

Caption 58, Club 10 - Capítulo 1

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