In Spanish nouns that end in -z can be either masculine or feminine, but nouns that end in -ez are always feminine (however, there are a couple of exceptions). They tend to be abstract words. Have a look at some of the most common nouns ending in -ez:
La niñez debe ser una época feliz para todo el mundo.Childhood should be a happy time for everyone.
Ese chico tiene mucha madurez.That boy is very mature. [lit: has a lot of maturity]
La vejez de mi padre será dura.My father's old age will be hard.
Nos preocupa la escasez de alimentos.We are worried about the lack of food.
Lo que acabas de decir es una estupidez.What you just said is nonsense.
There are also many abstract nouns in Spanish which end in -eza. These are also feminine. For example:
La franqueza es una cualidad que admiro.Honesty/frankness is a quality that I admire.
Terminar con la pobreza del mundo es algo muy difícil.To end global poverty is something very difficult.
La belleza de este lugar es fascinante.The beauty of this place is fascinating.
Bear in mind that there are lots of nouns ending in -z (as opposed to specifically in -ez). Some of them are masculine and some feminine. Unfortunately, there is no rule to know which gender they are.
Here is a list of nouns ending in -z with their gender to help you memorise them. Some of them are very commonly-used nouns.
Exceptions to the "nouns ending in -ez are always feminine" rule (note that these are not abstract nouns, like the bulk of "always feminine -ez" words):
- el pez = fish
- el juez = judge
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