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Spanish 101A

Spanish 101B

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Professions work just as they do in English with the exception of the use of definite and indefinite articles. In English we always use an article:

I am a professor (Identifying my profession, what do I do for a living)

I am the professor (Who am I in these circumstances?)

However, in Spanish, when you are identifying your profession, you do not use any article.

  For example:

I am a professor. Soy profesor.
Ally McBeal is a lawyer. Ally McBeal es abogada.
Dr. Carter is a surgeon. El dr. Carter es cirujano.

When you use an adjective to describe how you are in your profession, you use an indefinite article:

I am a good doctor. Soy un buen médico.
They are energetic professors. Son unos profesores enérgicos.

If you are referring to your job by your job title, you do use a definite article:

I am the interpreter (there is no other.) Soy el intérprete.
Elizabeth is the queen. Isabel es la reina.
David es el jefe. David is the boss.

This works with other informal "titles" as well:

Where is the artist? (we know there is one) ¿Dónde está el artista?
Are there any artists? ¿Hay artistas?
Is that the student [you were talking about]?  ¿Es el estudiante?
He is a student. Es estudiante.
Who are the doctors? (Point them out) ¿Quiénes son los médicos?
Are there any doctors? ¿Hay médicos?

Most titles or professions ending in "e" only change the article:

el / la detective the detective
el / la gerente the manager
el / la cantante the singer
el / la representante the representative
el / la intérprete the interpreter
el / la agente (de bienes raíces, de viajes) the agent (real estate, travel)

Professions which end in “-ista” in their masculine form remain the same in both the masculine and feminine form:

el / la artista the artist
el / la dentista the dentist
el / la analista the analyst
el / la periodista the journalist
el / la electrista the electrician

Some professions where women have entered only recently often include the word "mujer"

el policía / la mujer policía   (option: el/la oficial) policeman, policewoman (option:the officer or official)
el mecánico / la mujer mecánico the mechanic