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Vocabulary - What's My Occupation?

This vocabulary Spanish Easy Review quiz is going to be a review of a number of different occupations. As we all know, there are people in general such as a man, a woman, a girl and a boy. Then there are people in the family such as a mother, a father, a brother and a sister. Finally, there are the people that we associate with an occupation such as a doctor, a lawyer and a teacher. This vocabulary quiz is, therefore, going to focus on the third set of people, i.e., the occupations of people. For this first occupation quiz, we will only focus on some of the more common occupations that people have. To begin with, the word occupation in Spanish is ocupación. Pronounced phonetically it is ŏ-koo-pā-she-on. An important thing to note here is that ocupación is a feminine word that does not end with the letter a.

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Okay, now let’s take a look at the following ocupación list.

OCCUPATIONS

ENGLISH SPANISH PHONETIC PRONUNCIATION
teacher profesor [m] prō-fes-or
teacher profesora [f] prō-fes-or-ă
doctor doctor [m] doc-tor
doctor doctora [f] doc-tor-ă
nurse enfermero [m] en-fer-mare-ō
nurse enfermera [f] en-fer-mare-ă
lawyer abogado [m] ă-bō-gă-dō
lawyer abogada [f] ă-bō-gă-dă
dentist dentista [m/f] den-tē-stă
policeman policía [m/f] pō-lee-see-ă
fireman bombero [m] bom-bear-ō
firewoman bombera [f] bom-bear-ă
scientist científico [m] sī-en-tē-fĭ-kō
scientist científica [f] sī-en-tē-fĭ-kă
secretary secretario [m] sec-rē-tă-rē-ō
secretary secretaria [f] sec-rē-tă-rē-ă
mechanic mecánico [m] mē-can-ĭ-kō
mechanic mecánica [f] mē-can-ĭ-kă
engineer ingeniero [m] in-gen-ē-ā-rō
engineer ingeniera [f] in-gen-ē-ā-ră
grocer tendero [m] ten-dear-ō
grocer tendera [f] ten-dear-ă
butcher carnicero [m] car-nē-sĕr-ō
butcher carnicera [f] car-nē-sĕr-ă
salesman vendedor [m] ven-dē-door
saleswoman vendedora [f] ven-dē-door-ă
contractor contratista [m/f] con-tră-tē-stă
President presidente [m/f] pres-ē-den-tāy
President’s Wife presidenta [f] pres-ē-den-tăh

Neutral or Non-Gender Specific Words

That is quite a long list of new Spanish vocabulary words to learn but if you focus on how simple it is to change a word from masculine to feminine it is not as difficult as it may first seem. Notice that some of the words shown are both masculine and feminine. This means that the spelling of that word does not change whether the, for example, dentist is a man or a woman. To distinguish whether the dentist is a man or a woman, then you would need to use the appropriate definite article. For example, el denista for a male dentist and la dentista for a female dentist. Sometimes these types of words are also referred to as being either neutral words or non-gender specific words.

Another example has to do with policeman. It is policía for both policeman and policewoman. In order to distinguish the gender you would use the definite article so that la policía means policewoman while el policía means policeman. The base word, policía, does not change.

In addition, please take note that the Spanish word for president, i.e., presidente is also considered to be a neutral or non-gender specific word. To specify if the president is male you would say el presidente and if you were to specify that the president as a female then you would say la presidente. However, if you change the ending letter e to the letter a making it read as presidenta, rather than being a female president you would be referring to the president’s wife or the First Lady. Some Spanish cultures actually do use presidenta to refer to a female president but generally as a president of a society or group or council so please be aware of this. For this quiz, we will stick to presidente.

Be Sure to Study

Take time to study this new vocabulary list, along with the spelling of each word. Make certain you are aware of any accent marks that may be used. Accent marks are critical to what a word means and where a letter needs specific emphasis. As soon as you feel confident with your new ocupación list, tackle the ten quiz questions to see how well you can do with your new Spanish vocabulary words. You will be looking for either the Spanish translation or the English translation of the all capitalized words.

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  1. I called the DOCTOR to get my prescription filled.
    In this sentence you do not know whether the doctor is male or female. When you do not know the gender of the person you use the masculine form of the word. The first and last answers are misspelled words, therefore they are not correct. The third answer refers to a female doctor but since you do not know the doctor’s gender, you would not choose this form of the word. The second answer shows the masculine form which is what you are looking for.
  2. Michael is in school learning how to become a MECHANIC.
    Did you pay attention to the spelling and accent marks? The correct spelling for mechanic in Spanish is mecánico.
  3. Agnes would be his nighttime NURSE.
    As Agnes is female we can easily eliminate the masculine word forms found in the first and second answers. The feminine word for nurse in Spanish is enfermera.
  4. He stopped off to see the BUTCHER before going home.
    In this sentence we do not know if the butcher is a male or female. When you do not know the gender, you use the masculine form of the word. The Spanish masculine word for butcher is carnicero.
  5. She was surprised to see a SALESWOMAN at her front door.
    To begin with, you have the feminine pronoun of she and the occupational word SALESWOMAN both showing you that you need to be looking for a feminine word form. The last answer is a masculine form word so it cannot be the correct answer. An easy way to remember the Spanish word for a saleswoman (or salesman) is to think of a vendor. A vendor sells things. And, in Spanish, a saleswoman is a vendedora.
  6. Mama was talking to the TENDERO when we arrived.
    The Spanish word tendero means grocer.
  7. Elaine is the CIENTÍFICA working on the cure.
    The Spanish word científica means scientist and, as Elaine is a female, this shows us the correct gender form of the word as well.
  8. The PRESIDENT’S WIFE would like to see you now.
    As the President’s wife refers to a female we know we need a feminine word form. The first answer contains an incorrect accent mark so it is not the correct feminine word that we need. The last answer, however, shows the correct spelling and is the Spanish word that means President’s wife.
  9. Which word below is the correctly spelled Spanish word for DENTIST?
    The Spanish word for dentist contains no accent marks or tildes. The third answer is the only word listed that contains no accent mark or tildes.
  10. The Judge appointed the defendant a LAWYER.
    The first answer is Spanish for fireman. The third answer is Spanish for a male nurse. The last answer is Spanish for a salesman. That leaves the second answer which is Spanish for a male lawyer. As we do not know if the Judge appointed a male or female lawyer, the masculine form of the word is used.

Author: Christine G. Broome

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