In Origin of gender-neutral nouns such as "la/el artista", "la/el testigo", "la/el poeta" I was wondering about the gender of nouns.

I have the same question for adjectives also:

Why do we say "un suéter naranja" and "un suéter rosa", and not "un suéter naranjo" and "un suéter roso". And same thing with adjectives ending in -ista. Why do we not change it to -isto for masculine nouns? In other words, why does the gender-neuter suffix -ista have an "a"? Most gender-neutral colors like "azul" or "marrón" end neither in "o" nor in "a".


2 Answers 2


I will answer believing in Wikipedia like a reliable source. I qoute the next pledge of this Wikipedia reference for color genders

Solamente los siguientes colores cuando actúan como adjetivos tienen el mismo género al actuar como sustantivos que el sustantivo al que califican: blanco, negro, amarillo, rojo, rosado, anaranjado, morado y castaño.

Your specific example is about an exception, "naranja" is not in the list of colors that change by the gender of the subject. So in both genders of subject, will be used "naranja".

On other hand, "anaranjado" will change by the subjects gender. Example:

Ella lleva una camisa anaranjada.

We use "anaranjada" because camisa is a female subject.

Ese vaso es anaranjado

Otherwise with vaso, a male subject. We need to use "anaranjado".

I hope I have helped you.

  • 1
    That particular Wikipedia article seems questionable. For example, pardo, plateado or dorado are colors that also change gender.
    – wimi
    Commented Jul 14, 2020 at 13:43

The answer by brazofuerte to the question you link also applies here. Basically, it is mostly words that etymologically end with "-o" (and maybe "-ón") that change to "-a" to form the feminine. Words that etymologically end with other vowels are usually invariable. As brazofuerte's answer says, the three most common invariable suffixes are "-ista", "-ente", and "-ante", but there are many others.

As that answer also says, some of the words ending with "-ente" have developed a feminine form ending with "-enta", such as presidente, asistente, but this seems to only be valid when they are used as nouns. When they are used as adjectives, as you can see in the DLE entries, only the ending "-ente" is accepted:

  • Las mujeres asistentes a la reunión elegirán a una representante.

Regarding naranja, some colors have a special treatment. If they come from nouns that designate things that have that color (such as naranja, violeta, marrón), then they can be used invariably without changing in the feminine or plural forms. See this question for more information on colors without a feminine form.

  • So I am asking why the suffix -ista is gender invariable? Why not -isto for masculine nouns? And for "naranja", I am again asking why it does not change to "naranjo" in the masculine form. And also, looking at your list, "naranja" and "violeta" are invariable in terms of both number and gender, but "marrón" does change to "marrones" for the plural.
    – Arunabh
    Commented Jul 9, 2020 at 14:11

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