Spanish Nouns Whose Meanings Change by Gender

By Gail Stein

Gender plays an even more important role in Spanish nouns than you might think. The gender of some Spanish nouns can actually affect the words’ meanings. In the masculine form, a word in this category means one thing, and in the feminine form, it has a totally different meaning. Knowing the proper usage can mean the difference between frying a potato and frying the Pope!

The best way to prepare for this gender-related meaning swap is to get familiar with the handful of Spanish nouns whose meanings change according to gender. Use the following table to help you commit these words to memory.

Spanish Nouns Whose Meanings Change by Gender
Masculine Meaning Feminine Meaning
el capital the capital (money) la capital the capital (country)
el cura the priest la cura the cure
el frente the front la frente the forehead
el guía the male guide la guía the female guide; the guidebook
el Papa the Pope la papa the potato
el policía the police officer la policía the police force; the police woman