According to Duolingo, the phrase "The water is not deep" should be translated "El agua no es profunda." instead of what I guessed, "El agua no es profundo."

Since "agua" is masculine (el), shouldn't the adjective indicate that by having an "o" ending (rather than the feminine "a" ending?

If Duolingo is correct (they probably are), why this seeming anomaly?

  • 1
    Agree, check the link. Agua is feminine, but just because it starts with an "a" and we want to avid the awful "la aXXX" sound, we use a different article. That doesn't change the gender of the word.
    – Diego
    Commented Oct 7, 2014 at 14:08

1 Answer 1


Agua is feminine: Agua. But we use El in singular words that start with A and have the strong syllable first. Plural would be Las aguas. This is done because La agua is hard to pronounce.

  • 2
    Exceptions: "La Haya", "La hache", and I don't know if any other.
    – rodrigo
    Commented Oct 7, 2014 at 16:24
  • @rodrigo También la a y la alfa (letras), la Ámsterdam y otras ciudades y países como la Austria, sustantivos sexuados invariables como la árabe (cuando se refiere a una mujer árabe), y nombres femeninos con artículo como la Ana. Commented Oct 8, 2014 at 4:10
  • Y muy al azar, la árbitra. Commented Oct 8, 2014 at 4:33

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