Portuguese Nouns

Masculine and Feminine Nouns

Nouns are words that label objects, animals or people. Portuguese nouns have only two genders – masculine and feminine. That means that there is no neutral gender in Portuguese as there is both in English and German.  

In general, a masculine nouns ends  in a o, and a feminine noun ends in a.  So, the best way to tell whether a noun is either masculine or feminine is by checking if the word ends in an o for masculine or in an a for feminine, and the appropriate article will accompany it according to its gender; o for the masculine, and a for the feminine.


  • o bolo (masculine) ~ the cake
  • a bola (feminine) ~ the ball

However, there are nouns like chá and samba which end in a, but are both masculine in Portuguese: o chá (tea) and o samba (music with African beat). Most importantly, realize that there nouns in Portuguese have different endings.


Nouns Ending in an e

Many nouns ending in an e in Portuguese are masculine in gender, but some of them may have a counterpart that’s feminine. That happens when the noun refers to a person or an animal which obviously can be either masculine or feminine. The gender of  a noun can be easily modified by simply changing the definite article (singular:o – a, plural: os – as) in front of the word. The word is actually spelled exactly the same way for both genders, but the article before it determines if it’s masculine or feminine.


  • o café ~ coffee
  • o telefone ~ the telephone      
  • o elefante ~ the elephant ( feminine ~ a elefanta)
  • o príncipe ~ the prince (feminine ~ a princesa)
  • o estudante ~ the male student
  • a estudante ~ the female student

On the other hand, there are words which end in e that are only feminine. 


  • a estante ~ the bookcase
  • a corrente ~the current
  • a lebre* ~ the hare

*Even though we know that there are male and female hares, the term a lebre refers to hares in general without any reference to gender. If we need to refer specifically to a male hare, we will use  the term o lebrão.

Nouns Ending in ão

Most nouns ending in ão are masculine, but there are some feminine nouns that end in ão too.


  • o ladrão ~ the thief
  • o limão ~ the lemon
  • o mamão ~ papaya
  • a canção – the song
  • a mão – the hand


Nouns Ending in em

Nouns ending in em can be either masculine or feminine.  And again those nouns that refer to people are spelled the same way for both genders, and it’s the article in front of them which will distinguish which gender they are.


  • o jovem ~ the young man
  • a jovem ~ the young woman
  • o refém ~ the male hostage
  • a refém ~ the female hostage 
  • o trem ~ the trem
  • a garagem ~the garage
  • a mensagem ~ the message


Nouns Ending in or     

As for the nouns ending in or, they can be either masculine or feminine. 


  • o calor ~ the heat
  • o cantor ~ the singer (feminine – a cantora)
  • o louvor ~ praise
  • a flor ~ the flower
  • a dor ~ the pain


Nouns Ending in iz

Nouns ending in iz can be either masculine or feminine. It sounds like is the third person form of to be in English. 


  • o nariz ~ the nose
  • o verniz ~ the varnish
  • a cerviz ~ the cervix
  • a raiz ~ the root


Nouns Ending in el and eu

Amazingly enough, the endings el and eu sound exactly the same as in the end of the English word well, and the the nouns which end in this way are always masculine.


  • o anel ~ the ring
  • o mel ~ honey
  • o papel ~ paper (in general)
  • o céu ~ the sky/heaven
  • o chapéu ~ the hat
  • o réu ~ the defendant
  • o véu ~ the veil


 I hope this information is helpful to you. If you are a beginner, be sure to check the Starter Guide.


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