In languages with grammatical gender, such as Spanish and Swedish, gender matters and can sometimes lead to misundertandings if you get it wrong.
Some words may sound the same, but have different genders and different meanings. For example, in Swedish a team is ett lag (neuter) and a law is en lag (common gender).
I haven’t come across any other homographs like this in Swedish, but there probably are others. Do you known any more in Swedish or other languages?
I found some in Spanish, including:
- el coma = coma; la coma = comma
- el mañana = future; la mañana = morning
- el moral = blackberry bush; la moral = morale, morality
- el papa = pope; la papa = potato
- el pez = fish; la pez = tar, pitch
- el tema = subject; la tema = obsession
Other Swedish words I sometimes get muddled include: väg (path, road) and vägg (wall), and svart (black, dark) and svårt (hard).
So it’s not just gender that matters – accents and spelling are also important.
How do you learn the genders of nouns in languages with grammatical gender?