Who doesn't like animals? Even if you've never had a pet, you've probably watched the odd documentary here and there. Animals are a pretty universal topic of conversation, and the following lists should prepare you for conversation with pretty much any animal lover.
Is It A Boy Or A Girl? Animals And Gender In Spanish
Before getting started with vocabulary, there's a grammar point you should be aware of. Nouns in Spanish can be either feminine or masculine, and this distinction can often seem illogical to people who don't speak Spanish. For instance, a table (la mesa) is feminine, while a desk (el escritorio) is masculine.
So, what happens with animals? Most animal names have a female and a male form, but not all do. For instance, a cat can be el gato (masculine) or la gata (feminine), but a hamster will always be el hámster (masculine).
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It is important to understand that grammatical gender and biological gender aren't always equivalent.
The "default" gender in Spanish is usually the masculine. For example, when referring to a group of dogs, a Spanish speaker will say los perros (masculine), regardless of whether most dogs in that group are males or females.
That said, the feminine can sometimes be used as the generic gender. When describing a group of turtles, Spanish prefers las tortugas (feminine) before los tortugos (masculine). You would only use the second one if you were sure all the turtles were males.
The following lists include the generic form for each animal, that is to say, the one you would use if you didn't know the animal's gender.
Las Mascotas (Pets)
Are you a cat or a dog person? Regardless of what side you stand on, pets are often a good place to start a conversation about animals. Here are the names for some common pets in Spanish:
- El perro - Dog
- El cachorro - Puppy
- El gato - Cat
- El hámster - Hamster
- La cobaya - Guinea Pig
- El pez - Fish
- El pájaro - Bird
- El perico - Parakeet
- La tortuga - Turtle
- La serpiente - Snake
Let's see some of these in context:
- Voy a pasear el perro. - I am going to walk the dog.
- Mi gato es blanco. - My cat is white.
- Esa tortuga no come lechuga. - That turtle doesn't eat lettuce.
La Granja (The Farm)
Spending some time in the countryside? These animal names might come in handy:
- El conejo - Rabbit
- El pollito/El pollo - Chick/Chicken
- La gallina - Hen
- El gallo - Rooster
- La vaca - Cow
- El toro - Bull
- La oveja - Sheep
- El caballo - Horse
- El cerdo/El puerco - Pig
- La cabra - Goat
- El burro - Donkey
- El ratón - Mouse
You might use these words in the following phrases:
- Vamos a ordeñar las vacas. - Let's go milk the cows.
- Me gusta montar a caballo. - I like to ride a horse.
- Las ovejas comen pasto. - The sheep eat grass.
El Bosque (The Forest)
If the forest is more your thing, take a look at this list of woodland animals:
- El ciervo - Deer
- El mapache - Raccoon
- La ardilla - Squirrel
- El búho - Owl
- El zorro - Fox
- El lobo - Wolf
- El oso - Bear
You could mention them in phrases like these:
- El búho está en el árbol. - The owl is in the tree.
- La ardilla come nueces. - The squirrel eats nuts.
- El oso duerme. - The bear sleeps.
El Océano (The Ocean)
Spending some time at the beach? You might run into some of these animals:
- El cangrejo - Crab
- La medusa/El aguaviva - Jellyfish
- El delfín - Dolphin
- La ballena - Whale
- El tiburón - Shark
- La foca - Seal
- El lobo marino - Sea lion
- La morsa - Walrus
- El pingüino - Penguin
You might hear them in some of these phrases:
- Hay muchas medusas. - There are lots of jellyfish.
- ¡Cuidado, un tiburón! - Look out, a shark!
- Los lobos marinos comen pescado. - The sea lions eat fish.
En El Zoológico (At The Zoo)
Looking for some more exotic animals? Find them here:
- El elefante - Elephant
- El rinoceronte - Rhinoceros
- El hipopótamo - Hippopotamus
- El león - Lion
- El tigre - Tiger
- La jirafa - Giraffe
- La cebra - Zebra
- El mono - Monkey
- El canguro - Kangaroo
- El cocodrilo - Crocodile
Here are some of those words in context:
- Los elefantes tienen buena memoria. - Elephants have good memory.
- El león es el rey de la selva. - Lions are the kings of the jungle.
- Los canguros viven en Australia. - Kangaroos live in Australia.
Bichos E Insectos (Bugs And Insects)
They might not be the first things you think of when you hear the word "animal". For some, they might not even be something they want to think about at all. That said, bugs and insects are pretty much everywhere, so it's a good idea to learn their names in Spanish:
- La oruga - Caterpillar
- La mariposa - Butterfly
- La polilla - Moth
- La mosca - Fly
- La araña - Spider
- La cucaracha - Cockroach
- El caracol - Snail
- El gusano - Worm
Once more, let's see these words in context:
- Las mariposas son coloridas. - Butterflies are colorful.
- Las arañas me dan miedo. - Spiders scare me.
- Hay un caracol en la planta. - There is a snail on the plant.
The lists above cover a lot of ground, but there is still a huge part of the animal kingdom left to explore. Did your favorite animal make the list?
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"Animal Names in Spanish." YourDictionary, n.d. Web. 20 August 2018. <http://spanish.yourdictionary.com/Spanish-language/learning-spanish/animal-names-in-spanish.html>.
Animal Names in Spanish. (n.d.). Retrieved August 20th, 2018, from http://spanish.yourdictionary.com/Spanish-language/learning-spanish/animal-names-in-spanish.html