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I've encountered the following sentences in my Rosetta Stone Spanish program:

El teatro está a su derecha.
El café está a su izquierda.

On the two sentences above, why do these use feminine nouns? Both teatro and café are masculine nouns, if it is related.

Also, the photos on the program seem to use the masculine to imply su. So I don't know any reasons to use feminine nouns here...

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In the sentences you provide, izquierda and derecha are nouns, and are not bound to teatro and café. Like in many languages, the same words can be used as adjectives, and when they are used in that way, they will agree in gender with the nouns they modify (e.g., al lado derecho).

But in this case, they are being used as nouns, specifically as objects of a preposition (to his/her/their left, to his/her/their right), and in Spanish, these particular nouns are feminine.

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  • So you mean that it is a rule that if you want to express locations, you have to use feminine nouns, right? – Blaszard Mar 30 '15 at 23:45
  • Well, not exactly. It just means that the nouns la izquierda and la derecha are feminine. You could pick a location that is masculine: El teatro está al lado, meaning The Theater is on the side (omitting which side, to avoid confusing the illustration). – Kent A. Mar 30 '15 at 23:49
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    Again, not really. A noun is either masculine or feminine. Don't confuse the nouns (left and right) with the adjectives (left and right) that just happen to have the same spelling, and similar/related meanings. Grammatically, they serve different purposes. The third person possessive pronoun (su) simply does not convey gender, but it doesn't mean the noun can be either masculine or feminine. – Kent A. Mar 30 '15 at 23:56
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    @guifa Be careful: el siniestro is not a synonym for la izquierda. A siniestro is a damage caused by an accident. A synonym for la izquierda would be la siniestra, feminine. – Gorpik Mar 31 '15 at 9:26
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    A likely reason for derecha and izquierda being feminine is that they take their gender from mano. A la derecha has the same meaning as a mano derecha. – Gorpik Mar 31 '15 at 9:28
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Nouns do not have to agree in gender. For example:

The man is in the house. El hombre está en la casa

El hombre is masculine and la casa is feminine.

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We do not agree nouns in Spanish; apart from that, posesive adjectives (apart from nuestro and nuestra) do not agree in gender either, only in number. Whenever you want to express location, feminine is used with these words.

Voltee a la derecha.
No veo nada a mi izquierda.

However, it is possible to say "derecho" as an adjective:

Tu brazo izquierdo está bien.
Encontrará el libro al lado derecho del estante.
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  • Eso no es del todo cierto: suyo / suya, mío / mía... El género sí que cambia, la distinción es, con qué concuerda? Con el sujeto (esta casa es suya, este coche es mío) Por tanto tu explicación no es del todo cierto. Tendrías que decir adjetivos determinativos posesivos, y aún así, en la primera persona del plural (nuestro) que no hay forma apócope (si así se puede considerar la distinción de un posesivo adj. y pronombre) también varía en género, pero no dependiendo del poseedor, sino del objeto poseído. – JuanRocamonde Mar 31 '15 at 8:33
  • Correcto, ¡gracias por la corrección! – Peripes Apr 1 '15 at 12:06

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