I ask specifically for:

Salseros y Salseras

(male and female Salsa dancers, respectively)

It would be great to be able to address a mixed group of people with a single unifying word.

  • 9
    Neuter plural in Spanish is the same as masculine plural. It does not mean you are overlooking women or assimilating them into the male group. Nowadays a few forget this neutrality and try to forcefully correct it, but the norm remains and consensus overwhelmingly supports it. Instead, you have to disambiguate if you need to say they're only men: salseros/bailarines varones (or hombres.) Using both genders in plural in Spanish is a form of overcorrection, and thus a mistake, just like regularizing an irregular verb.
    – Rafael
    Aug 22, 2017 at 12:29
  • 1
    If you don't want to use salseros or salser@s, you could say aficionados de la salsa (for a poster or announcement written in Spanish) or salsa aficionados (for a poster or announcement written in English). Technically it faces the same problem as salseros but I think since it is such a clear cognate with English, it would be a good work-around. Aug 23, 2017 at 2:27

3 Answers 3


Spanish is not a great language when it comes to gender-neutral forms.

Technically, "salseros" is the grammatically gender-neutral plural form for both "salsero" and "salsera". However, being that it ends in -o, it is more identified with the male form and thus it is not seen as socially gender-neutral.

If you wanted to use a different word for whatever reason, you could use "bailarines de salsa" instead, which literally means "salsa dancers".

bailarín, na
1. adj. Que baila. Apl. a pers., u. t. c. s.
2. m. y f. Persona que ejercita o profesa el arte de bailar.

"Bailarines" can work better than "salseros" because it ends with an -e (seen by some as more neutral than the -o in "salseros").
This only works in plural, though, since the singular forms would still be male "bailarín" and female "bailarina".

Also, as mentioned by Gustavson, salsero has at least four additional meanings not related to salsa music, so maybe bailarines can be more clear too.

  • 2
    The plurals would be bailarines and bailarinas, so the thing doesn't work in plural either...
    – Paco
    Aug 22, 2017 at 7:35
  • 3
    "bailarines de salsa" sounds perfect to me. "salsero/salsera", in countries where salsa is not so popular, will tend to be interpreted like this: Recipiente en el que se lleva la salsa para servirla (sauce or gravy boat) :)
    – Gustavson
    Aug 22, 2017 at 11:04
  • @walen Not at all. Please do.
    – Gustavson
    Aug 22, 2017 at 11:48
  • Although it's true that "salseros" could be misinterpreted, "bailarines de salsa" is not seen as more neutral, at least in Spain. Everyone who considers salseros to be male only would also consider bailarines de salsa to be male only too.
    – Hawkings
    Aug 28, 2017 at 9:24

Spanish does have a gender-neutral form for that, "salseros". Saying "salseros y salseras" should be avoided. (source).

La mención explícita del femenino solo se justifica cuando la oposición de sexos es relevante en el contexto: El desarrollo evolutivo es similar en los niños y las niñas de esa edad. La actual tendencia al desdoblamiento indiscriminado del sustantivo en su forma masculina y femenina va contra el principio de economía del lenguaje y se funda en razones extralingüísticas. Por tanto, deben evitarse estas repeticiones, que generan dificultades sintácticas y de concordancia, y complican innecesariamente la redacción y lectura de los textos.

It is unfortunate that there is no distinction between the male plural form and the gender-neutral plural form, but that is just the way Spanish is.

  • 1
    This is an ongoing debate in Spanish: is the plural ending in -os representative of both genders? Gramatically it is but more and more people are starting to say vascos y vascas. By the way, welcome to Spanish Language! We hope to see you around :)
    – fedorqui
    Aug 22, 2017 at 10:43
  • @Hawkings: The issue is that most people here don't speak Spanish well enough to make that distinction. If they see only salseros, they might be under the impression that female dancers are being left out.
    – Spikee
    Aug 22, 2017 at 12:35
  • 3
    @Spikee maybe the norm would change with time, as language tends to regularize. But it is currently part of the basics, so a good Spanish class should teach this early on :)
    – Rafael
    Aug 22, 2017 at 13:27
  • @Spikee, when you say "if they see" do you mean that the question is specific to written language rather than spoken language? Aug 22, 2017 at 13:46
  • 1
    @Rafael I'm a Spanish (language and culture) enthusiast, I'm all for Spanish classes :).
    – Spikee
    Aug 22, 2017 at 14:09

In informal written Spanish, it has become common to use -@s as an ending meaning "-os or -as". So salser@s would be understood to be an intentionally gender-inclusive plural of salsero/-a.

Pronouncing that is another matter.

  • 4
    Note that this usage is discouraged, incorrect, and inconvenient: fundeu.es/recomendacion/arroba
    – Miguel
    Aug 22, 2017 at 16:17
  • @Miguel, discouraged is a valid criticism, although it needs qualification (anything can be described as discouraged if you can find one person who discourages it), and although inconvenient isn't quite the right English word I understand what you mean. But incorrect is a category error: orthographic usage can be standard or non-standard, but it cannot be correct or incorrect. The fact that it is non-standard is flagged by the answer specifying "informal written Spanish". Aug 22, 2017 at 23:12
  • Where I live this is common. I personally don't like it myself, but it certainly solves OP's problem. +1. Aug 23, 2017 at 2:24
  • @walen, that was how the function of the RAE was conceived 300 years ago, but modern linguists have a very different understanding of their job. To quote the current director of the RAE, "lo que la Real Academia tiene claro es que no crea idioma, apenas da unidad al que origina la sociedad." If you want a specific example of how they document rather than dictate, see iros. Aug 23, 2017 at 6:01
  • @Peter Taylor It is discouraged by Fundeu, a recognized source for Spanish in journalism: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fund%C3%A9u_BBVA
    – Miguel
    Aug 23, 2017 at 6:12

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