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.