Gender plays a large role in compliment behavior in many language varieties. Spanish is no different. It is especially important to consider. Is it always appropriate for males to compliment females? How about males complimenting females? Also, does the topic vary depending on the gender of the person receiving the compliment?


Can you think of any gender differences in your native language regarding compliment behavior? How does it affect the types of compliments you give or receive?



While there is still much we need to learn regarding gender differences in complimenting behavior in Spanish, we can teach you a couple of tendencies.

a woman angry at a man on a bench

(1) In Peninsular Spanish and Cuban Spanish, males often demonstrate the use of irony or sarcasm more than women.


(2) In a study conducted in Cuba, more compliments were given to males by both males and females.

While there is need for further empirical evidence to support this finding, it is worth noting as something to pay attention to. We should tell you that this is not the case in many varieties of Spanish. (As an interesting side note, during the creation of this website, when native speakers were asked to compliment one another, the female always chose to compliment the male. Very rarely did the male choose to compliment the female.)

(3) Another common type of "compliment" given to women by men is a piropo.

We will examine piropos in detail in the language variation section of this module. They are mentioned here since gender is one of their underlying facets. Their use and content is linked to the perception of gender roles in society. Play the piropo below to get an idea of what they sound like.


There is still a lot of work to be done for a more complete understanding of the role of gender in the Spanish-speaking world. Gender differences in complimenting behavior can have a major impact on the topic, location, strength, and response to a compliment.