I wanted to translate the term "musical friend" recently. The friend is female, so I used "una amiga música". My teacher insisted that this is incorrect, and that the correct version is "una amiga músico" - but she wasn't able to explain clearly why this is so. She lives in Oaxaca, Mexico. Is she right? Is there some reason for using the masculine form of the adjective?

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    Is the friend in question a musician or a person fond of music? – Gustavson Mar 6 at 23:35
  • She is a musican. – Peter P Mar 7 at 1:20
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    Sorry, but a "musical friend" is not really a musician. So, the Spanish would actually be: una amiga musical, which is just as odd in Spanish as in English! So your teacher is wrong. You can be musical and not be a musician. You can be comical and not be a comic. To translate, the meaning in the source language must be clear. – Lambie Mar 10 at 15:59
  • Una amiga música is a musician friend. – Lambie Mar 10 at 16:22

According to the Royal Academy of Spanish, your teacher is wrong and the feminine "música" should be used:

músico -ca. ‘Persona que se dedica a la música’. El femenino es música (→ género2, 3a): «La presencia de los jóvenes músicos y músicas de la Orquesta de Cámara Tupay» (Tiempos [Bol.] 11.12.96). No debe emplearse el masculino para referirse a una mujer: la músico.


It is worth noting that professions are always nouns, even if used attributively to modify another noun, for example:

  • Tengo una amiga abogada.
  • Tengo varios primos dentistas.
  • Tengo una vecina veterinaria.
  • Tengo varios amigos médicos.
  • Thanks, Gustavson, very interesting. This seems to imply that some people, other than my teacher, do use masculine adjectival forms when referring to women. I wonder if this is a regionalism, and under what circumstances this structure is used. For example, does it extend to other feminine nouns, or just those used for people. – Peter P Mar 7 at 16:39
  • In my experience, certain jobs and positions that used to be performed or held by men remained for a long time in the masculine form until the feminine form started to be gradually accepted, as is the case with "presidenta" (feminine for "presidente"). Gender policies now tend to impose the feminine form of all professions. – Gustavson Mar 7 at 18:20
  • So a Spanish-speaker would understand the word "música" in the phrase "una persona música" to be a noun, naming a job or profession? In English it's clearly an adjective, but in Spanish the adjective and noun are spelt the same way - maybe that results in a different perception of the meaning of the word in this situation? – Peter P Mar 10 at 13:56
  • @PeterP Well, I guess nobody would say "una persona música" but, instead, "un músico" (male) or "una música" (female). You could use the noun "músico/a" attributively with a semantically richer noun head, for example: Tengo un primo músico (a cousin who is a musician), Tengo una vecina música (a female neighbor who is a musician), etc. We can also use a relative clause "que se dedica a la música", "que estudia música", etc. Even when it accompanies another noun "músico/a" continues to be a noun. – Gustavson Mar 10 at 14:28
  • I have a female friend who is a musician and prefers to say she is músico because, for her, música is what she plays. Although I understand that this answer is correct, I would not force her to stop applying the word she prefers to herself. – Gorpik Mar 11 at 7:39

The word musical is the same actually, "musical". However that term is never used to describe a person. So you would have to re-phrase it. "Le gusta mucho la musica" = "she really likes music". "toca un instrumento" = "she plays an instrument". "toca la guitarra=she plays the guitar". "le fascina la musica" = "she loves music"/"she's fascinated by music".

Correction- I found a use of "amiga musical" on the internet, I have never used the phrase and it sounds odd to me in spanish but not in english. I'm a native speaker of spanish but speak english more fluently in a lot of contexts. Google "sonrisa, amiga musical". And there's videos of a lady clown in the results who goes by that moniker, I guess you were right. It's musical, not música. Música=musician. You can find an example of both uses on that channel.

  • "...that term is never used to describe a person." Thanks for your comment, which is clear but rather broad. Can you say that this rule applies throughout the Spanish-speaking world? – Peter P Mar 10 at 13:37
  • Musical friend is indeed amiga musical. And the Spanish is as odd as the English. It means someone involved with music. – Lambie Mar 10 at 15:53

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