Is mano masculine or feminine?


The quick answer to is mano is masculine or feminine is that it is ..... 

 .... feminine.

What, I hear you cry! How can be?

My teacher said that all words ending in -o in Spanish are .... (I can hear you say!)


Well, most of them are ....

but there are some exceptions, and mano is one of them.

¡Es la vida! ... as they say!

So it is la mano....

Well, that is that cleared up then - or is it?

If you wanted the answer to the question is mano masculine of feminine, you now have it.

La mano is feminine is Spanish.

However, in the rest of this article you will discover a little more about la mano  - the whys and the wherefores.

La mano - this word is feminine in Spanish

Why this is all so confusing for English speakers

English is fairly straight forward when it comes to nouns. In simple terms, nouns are preceded by the word (the article) - the.

And this is true whether the noun is in the singular (one of something), or the plural (more than one of something).

As an example of this in practice, in English we say:

the hand


the hands 

Nouns are masculine or feminine - what does that really mean?

This can be easily understood when we are talking about brothers or sisters, mum and dad etc. The noun is clearly masculine or feminine.

But how can a word like hand  be masculine or feminine?

Well, in English it is neither, the noun hand  is neuter. It does not have a gender (i.e. whether it is masculine or feminine), it is neuter (neither masculine or feminine).

This is the crux of the difficulty for English speakers when speaking Spanish (or come to that most other European languages) - this whole masculine feminine thing can be, at least initially, highly confusing.

In Spanish, however, nouns are either masculine or feminine.

So, this concept is easily understood, when we are talking about human beings etc. - that is to say when it is clear to an English speaker, whether the noun or the word is actually (to an English speaker's eyes) masculine or feminine.

But life, unfortunately, becomes a lot more complicated when we are dealing with objects which are not, apparently, masculine or feminine.

The fact is that to a Spanish speaking person a book is masculine (el libro).

... and the fact is that to a Spanish speaking person la mano is feminine.

... and this, even though la mano ends in an -o.

Frustrating - yes!

Confusing - possibly so.

Whilst in the next section of this article we go through the reasons why mano is feminine, the easiest way round the potential area of confusion and difficulty for Spanish language learners is to ...

... accept it

yes, don't question it, or get worried or confused,

... simply accept it.

Languages, like human beings, are different. Nothing more, nothing less.

Just take this whole masculine and feminine thing in your stride.

So, why is "la mano" feminine?

To answer this question we need to look into where the word la mano actually came from , before it was fully assimilated into the Spanish language.

The next section answers this question.

Origins of the word "la mano"

This is the key to understanding why the word mano is feminine.

Spanish is a romantic language, that is to say that its origins go back to Latin.

Suffice it to say that the word for hand in Latin was


and that it was (drum roll)


La mano - this word is feminine in Spanish

For a more detailed explanation, click here:

English words linked into "la mano"

Can you think of any words linked to the word la mano in English?

Whether you can answer this quickly or not, depends partly on how flexible you are in English, and, indeed, how carefully you have actually really thought about English.

And, for me, this is one of the real spin-off advantages of learning a foreign language like Spanish - it makes you think more closely about English and how it actually works.

Well, that's a real double whammy!

The first one that comes to my mind as I write this is the word "manual".

Manual labour is work that is done by hand

A quick internet search turns up a lot more. 

Here is a list in all its glory!


amanuensis - person who writes, by hand, for another

maintain - originally to keep by hand

mandate - literally given by hand

maneuver (Brit Eng manoeuvre) - to work with the hand

manicure - care for the hand

manipulation - worked with the hand 

manual - by hand

manufacture  - originally to make by hand

manuscript - handwritten piece


el / la amanuense


el mandato


la manicura

la manipulación



el manuscrito


Examples of the use of "la mano" in Spanish

Below is a list of examples of the use of "la mano" in Spanish.

This list is fairly extensive.

Here is the source of the list (which I have shortened slightly)

a mano

hecho a mano

¿tienes el encendedor a mano?

votación a mano alzada

a mano armada

dar o estrechar la mano a alguien

darse o estrecharse la mano

lavarse las manos

¡manos arriba!, ¡arriba las manos!

mano de obra

mano de obra barata

mano de obra especializada

a mano derecha/izquierda

gire a mano derecha

a manos de

alzar la mano contra alguien

caer en manos de alguien

agarrar a alguien con las manos en la masa

de primera mano

de segunda mano

dejar algo en manos de alguien

echar/tender una mano

ensuciarse las manos

escaparse de las manos a alguien

se me fue la mano con la sal

¡yo me lavo las manos!

llevarse las manos a la cabeza

mano a mano

con mano dura o de hierro

pedir la mano de una mujer 

ponerse en manos de alguien

ser la mano derecha de alguien

venir o llegar a las manos

by hand


have you got your lighter handy o to hand?

show of hands


to shake hands with somebody

to shake hands

to wash one's hands

hands up!

labo(u)r, workers

cheap labo(u)r costs

skilled labo(u)r o workers

on the right/left

on the right/left

at the hands of

to raise one's hand to somebody

to fall into somebody's hands

to catch somebody red-handed o in the act

brand new, first hand


to leave something in somebody's hands

to give/offer a hand

to get one's hands dirty

to slip through somebody's hands

I overdid the salt

I wash my hands of it!

to throw one's hands in the air (in horror)

tête-à-tête, hand to hand

with a firm hand

to ask for a woman's hand (in marriage)

to put oneself in somebody's hands

to be somebody's right hand man

to come to blows

Here are a list of idioms in Spanish which use the word mano, which will certainly add real flavour and interest to your Spanish.

The list is fairly lengthy.

As a suggestion, go through the list, pick out your favourites, and write them down somewhere.

Why not

...put them on a post-it note?

... start a key vocabulary book?

.... save then in your own personal quizlet (not sure what quizlet is? - click here)?

... you get the idea!

the important thing is that you DO something with the information.

You need to be do something active ...

.... otherwise they will be gone

... like yesterday's twitter post!

So, let's get to the list.

a manoby hand
a mano alzadafreehand
al alcance de la mano, a manoclose at hand, close by
apreciar de primera manosee for yourself
aprender de la mano delearn from [sb], learn under [sb]'s guidance
apretar la mano, estrechar la manoshake [sb]'s hand
arrastrar de la manodrag [sb] by the hand
asalto a mano armada, atraco a mano armada, robo a mano armadaarmed robbery
bolsa de manohandbag
buena manogift, talent, knack
caminar de la manowalk hand in hand
con la mano en la cinturaeasily
con mano izquierdadiscerningly
con una mano atrás y otra adelantebreak even
coser a manosew by hand
coste de mano de obra, costo de mano de obra loc nom mlabour costs
dar una mano, dar la mano, echar una mano, echar la manolend a hand, give a hand
de la manoholding hands
de la mano conholding hands with
de mano en manofrom hand to hand
de primera manofirst-hand, firsthand
de segunda manosecond-hand
dedo de la manofinger
echar la mano, tender una manogive a hand
en la palma de la manoin the palm of your hand
entrega en manohand delivery
equipaje de manocarry-on luggage,hand luggage
escribir a mano write by hand
extender la mano, tender la manohold out your hand, offer your hand
hecho a manohandmade
ir cogidos de la manowalk hand in hand
ir de la manogo hand in hand
ir de la manowork together
ir de la mano congo hand in hand with
írsele la manogo too far, get out of hand
leantar la mano gruporaise your hand
línea de la manopalm line
llear de la manotake by the hand, lead by the hand
maletín de mano grupocarry-on luggage, hand luggage
mano a manohand in hand
mano amigalifeline, helping hand
mano contrariaweaker hand
mano de obralabour,workforce
más vale pájaro en mano que ciento volandoa bird in the hand is worth two in the bush
matrimonio de la mano izquierdainterclass marriage
meter la mano en la lataput your hand in the till
pedir la mano deask for [sb]'s hand
petición de manoproposal
robo a mano armadaarmed robbery
romper la manoget practice, gain practice
saber de primera manoknow first-hand, know firsthand
segunda manosecond-hand
ser la mano derecha de alguienbe [sb]´s right arm
siempre a manoalways available, always on hand
te brindo mi manoI offer you a hand, I offer you my help
tender una manolend [sb] a hand, give [sb] a hand
tener a alguien comiendo de su manohave [sb] eating from the palm of your hand
tener a manohave [sth] on hand
tener la mano de trapo, tener manos de mantequillabe a butterfingers
tener mano firmehave a firm hand
tomar de la manotake [sb] by the hand
venta de segunda manosecondhand sale
votación a mano alzadashow of hands 

Why have I repeated "la mano" so much?

The key to learning any foreign language is repitition.

After all, it is the way that you learned your own language. As a child, you were continually exposed to, say, English and in this way you slowly but surely absorbed the language.

When you are learning a foreign language, such as Spanish, this constant exposure is not the case, unless you are living in the country.

Since you do not have continuous exposure to the language (click on this link for a blog post on how you can increase your exposure to a foreign language), unnatural repetition of the language is key.

Hence lots of repetition of the word la mano in this article.

By seeing it, and being alert to the possibility that some words ending in Spanish in -o can be masculine, will much improve your chances of remembering that la mano is feminine.

Another technique that I have used it in this post is to draw your attention to the la by using different colours and fonts.

Finally, I would strongly recommend that when you are learning lists of new nouns you learn them with the corresponding el or la. I see lots of material on the internet that does not do this - it is not helpful for the language learner.

Especially for an English speaker where this whole el / la concept is alien. 

You tube video on "is la mano" masculine or feminine?

Here is a youtube video I have put together on the question is la mano masculine and feminine.

Please click on the link and enjoy!

How do you pronounce "la mano"?

Please click on the link here, when you can hear how to pronounce la mano.

Click here for more on Spanish words that work like "la mano"

Are you telling me that there are more words like "la mano" in the Spanish language?

Well, yes, I suppose, I am!

Click on the link for more of these deceptive and mischievous  rascals and enjoy (if that's the correct word ....!)

Here is a link to Spanish words that end in -ma and are, in fact masculine.


So there you have it.

It's "la mano"

And, if you have read this page all the way through and clicked on the links ....

The answer to the question is mano masculine or feminine will be clear.

It is feminine!

¡Buena suerte!

Is mano masculine or feminine?
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Is mano masculine or feminine?
Well, mano ends in an -o, so the rules would suggest that it is masculine. However, it is feminine. It is la mano. This article explains the whys and the wherefores.
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