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.
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).
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.
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:
Let's see some of these in context:
Spending some time in the countryside? These animal names might come in handy:
You might use these words in the following phrases:
If the forest is more your thing, take a look at this list of woodland animals:
You could mention them in phrases like these:
Spending some time at the beach? You might run into some of these animals:
You might hear them in some of these phrases:
Looking for some more exotic animals? Find them here:
Here are some of those words in context:
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:
Once more, let's see these words in context:
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?