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Published on: Grammar Bites

Macho / Hembra

If el gato is a male cat and la gata is a female cat, what would be the word for a male rat since la rata is the word for a female rat. El rato? No quite so!

La rata applies to both the male and female rat:

  • Hoy vi una rata gigantesca en el metro de Nueva York.  Today I saw a giant rat in the New York subway.


El rato, on the other hand, refers to a period of time:

  • Llevo un rato esperando mi turno. I’ve been waiting  a while for my turn.

Other expressions with “rato” include:

  • Pasar el rato: to pass the time.
  • A cada rato: all the time, constantly.
  • Al poco rato: later, shortly after.