When trying to speak Spanish to the “Local Folks”, I try my best to use “La” and “El” correctly. People are very patient, but some just stare with a blank look. Any bit of new information regarding the Spanish language is great appreciated.
I found this info on the web recently:
As a rule, feminine words end in an ‘a’ and masculine words in an ‘o’. But there are a number of exceptions, a common one being el problema, which is masculine. It’s not unusual to hear foreigners use the intuitive, and wrong, “la problema“.
A number of nouns beginning with the letter ‘a’ use the masculine definite article ‘el‘ or indefinite ‘un‘ to avoid the two a’s clashing: examples are el agua, el azúcar, un alma. But unlike el problema, these words are feminine so use the corresponding endings:agua fría, azúcar blanca, alma perdida.
There are a number of nouns that can be either masculine or feminine. La radio or el radio, la mar or el mar. It’s common for people to use la radio when referring to radio in general as a communications medium—an abbreviated form of la radiodifusión—and el radio when referring to the appliance. Radio is also masculine when it means radius, or radium.
There are also words that mean one thing when masculine, and another when feminine. La cometa means the kite, and el cometa means the comet. El orden means order as in law and order, while la orden means order as in command, or an order for goods (or food at a restaurant). The feminine la frente means forehead, while the masculine el frente means front as in battle front, or the front of a building.
Does this help?