Spanish Lessons


10 Spanish Words That Change Meaning with Gender

Let's enhance our vocabulary today! As you know, nouns in Spanish are defined by number and gender. However, there are some nouns that can be both masculine and feminine. Moreover, depending on the gender they have, these nouns change their meanings completely. With that being said, let's take a look at some Spanish words that change meaning with gender.


1. Capital

Feminine: la capital (a capital city)


Está ubicada a ciento diez kilómetros de Quito, la capital del Ecuador.

It is located one hundred and ten kilometers from Quito, the capital of Ecuador.

Caption 6, Otavalo - El mercado de artesanías de Otavalo

 Play Caption


Masculine: el capital (capital: money)


No buscar la acumulación de capital

It's not seeking the accumulation of capital,

sino buscar la satisfacción de necesidades sociales.

but seeking the satisfaction of social necessities.

Captions 74-75, De consumidor a persona - Short Film

 Play Caption


2. Cólera

Feminine: la cólera (anger, rage)

Masculine: el cólera (cholera - the illness)


3. Coma

Feminine: la coma (a comma - punctuation)

Masculine: el coma (a coma - medicine)


4. Cometa

Feminine: la cometa (a kite)


Pero la cometa estaba muy alta para cogerla.

But the kite was too high to grab.

Caption 22, Guillermina y Candelario - El Gran Descubrimiento

 Play Caption


Masculine: el cometa (a comet - astronomy)


5. Corte

Feminine: la corte (a court of law OR the royal court of a king)


Creo que voy a apelar esta decisión a la Corte Suprema.

I think I'm going to appeal this decision to the Supreme Court.

Caption 83, Los casos de Yabla - Problemas de convivencia

 Play Caption


...que le habían sido cedidos para recreo de la corte.

...that had been handed over to him for the court's recreation.

Caption 59, Marisa en Madrid - Parque de El Retiro

 Play Caption


Masculine: el corte (a cut - injury OR the cut of hair or a suit)


Y ahora voy a hacer el corte aquí.

And now I am going to make the cut here.

Caption 42, Instrumentos musicales - Ocarinas

 Play Caption


6. Cura

Feminine: la cura (the cure)


Tu madre no tiene cura.

Your mom has no cure.

Caption 45, Muñeca Brava - 44 El encuentro

 Play Caption


Masculine: el cura (a priest)


Aquí no habrá noche de bodas mientras no vayan con un cura.

Here, there will be no wedding night until you go to a priest.

Caption 23, El Ausente - Acto 4

 Play Caption


7. Final

Feminine: la final (the sports final, the playoffs)


Jueguen como si fuera la final.

Play as if it were the finals.

Caption 46, Carlos explica - Tuteo, ustedeo y voseo: Ustedes y vosotros

 Play Caption


Masculine: el final (the end)


Al final le he pedido disculpas y todo.

In the end, I apologized to him and everything.

Caption 55, Cortometraje - Flechazos

 Play Caption


8. Frente

Feminine: la frente (the forehead)


"María le tocó la frente a su hijo para ver si tenía fiebre".

"Maria touched her son's forehead to see if he had a fever."

Caption 17, Carlos explica - Vocabulario: El verbo “tocar”

 Play Caption


Masculine: el frente (the front - military)

Los soldados están en el frente de batalla.

The soldiers are on the battle front.


9. Guía

Feminine: la guía (a guide book OR a female guide OR a telephone book OR guidance)


Todo bajo la guía de un profesor de educación física.

All with the guidance of a P.E. teacher.

Caption 7, Los Años Maravillosos - Capítulo 1

 Play Caption


¡Pippo, traé una guía!

Pippo, bring me a phone directory.

Caption 55, Yago - 5 La ciudad

 Play Caption


Masculine: el guía (a male guide)


Mi nombre es Mauricio y soy un guía turístico.

My name is Mauricio and I'm a tour guide.

Caption 27, Pipo - Un paseo por la playa de Atacames

 Play Caption


10. Orden

Feminine: la orden (a command OR a restaurant order)


Normalmente, cuando estás haciendo una orden...

Usually, when you're placing an order...

Caption 28, Natalia de Ecuador - Ordenar en un restaurante

 Play Caption


Masculine: el orden (order)


Listo, señor Rolleri; todo en orden.

Done, Mister Rolleri; everything's in order.

Caption 68, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa - Capítulo 2

 Play Caption


That's if for today. Do you know more Spanish words that change meaning with gender? We challenge you to find more and don't forget to send us your questions and comments.

Signup to get Free Spanish Lessons sent by email

Tope: A Word to Bump Into

In general terms, the Spanish word tope means “top,” and it is used to name the highest part of something:
Miguel subió al tope del árbol
Miguel climbed to the top of the tree
It can also mean a “top” as in a cap, something that serves to hold in, protect, or conceal. That’s why Alexis, in our video on making the traditional Venezuelan instrument known as an ocarina, tells us that un tope (a top) is necessary to cover the air channel:

El canal de aire debe tener un tope.

The air channel should have a cap.

Caption 27, Instrumentos musicales - Ocarinas

 Play Caption



When explaining the use of a typical (though rather vulgar) Spanish expression, our friend Carlos, from Burgos, Spain, also uses the expression a tope (or hasta el tope) to express that something has reached a limit:

...quiere decir que está a tope, lleno.

...means that it's to the top, full.

Caption 27, Burgos - Chistes y un dicho chistoso

 Play Caption
(You'll have to watch the video to see what vulgar expression he's talking about!)
However, topar, the verb, is a different story. While in English “to top” means to reach a limit in the sense of being superlative, in Spanish the verb topar means to reach a limit but without going any further, something that we would rather translate as “to bump” or even as “to stop.”
Aquí te topas, amigo.
You stop here, pal.
And that’s why the verb topar is used in the expression toparse con alguien (to bump into someone), as Molotov sings in their song Hit Me:

Toparás con un par de secretarias pendejas

You'll bump into a couple of stupid secretaries

Caption 30, Molotov - Hit Me

 Play Caption



Topar also appears in the expression toparse con algo (to bump into something), as we see here used by our buddies in Mexico City discussing pedestrian etiquette:


Aquí les va un ejemplo de lo que pueden hacer si se topan con ciertas circunstancias.

Here goes an example of what you can do if you bumped into certain circumstances.

Captions 10-11, Amigos D.F. - Consejos para la calle

 Play Caption
Please let us know at si se topan con más ejemplos (if you bump into more examples) while browsing our catalog of authentic Spanish videos.



Signup to get Free Spanish Lessons sent by email

You May Also Like