Spanish Definite and Indefinite Articles

In Spanish, an article is a grammatical determinant that indicates a reference to a concrete or known element or to an unknown and more general one. In this Spanish lesson you will learn about the two types of articles and how to use them properly. 

Understanding Articles

You may not have learned this in grammar school, but in English the word “the” is a definite article. That is because it points to a very specific thing.

For example, you may tell someone, “I want the mug,” assuming that they will bring you the mug you have in mind. However, if you tell them, “I want a mug,” you will get whatever mug they choose to hand you!

That is because the words “a” or “an” are indefinite articles.

How to Say “The” in Spanish

Spanish has definite and indefinite articles as well. However, as mentioned before, Spanish speakers must suit the form of the article to the gender of the noun it precedes. Remember el hombre and la mujer?

What you didn’t know then was that the article must also reflect the quantity of the noun—whether or not it is singular or plural.

For example, if there is one man, we speak of el hombre. If there are two or more men, we speak of los hombres.

If there is one woman, we speak of la mujer. If there are two or more women, we speak of las mujeres.

You can see how the Spanish forms of “the” are used in the following table:
 

Por ejemplo:

Masculine

Feminine

Singular

el chico

the boy

Plural

los chicos

the boys

Singular

la chica

the girl

Plural

las chicas

the girls

El chico / Los chicos

The boy / The boys

La chica / Las chicas

The girl / The girls

Las manzanas están podridas.

The apples are rotten.

El libro está en mi maleta.

The book is in my bag.

Compré los libros en la librería.

I bought the books in the bookstore.

Las chicas salieron a correr.

The girls went running.

How to Say “A” or “An” in Spanish

In Spanish, there are four forms of the indefinite articles “a,” “an,” or “some.”

Masculine

Feminine

Singular

un lápiz

a pencil

Plural

unos lápices

some pencils

Singular

una flor

a flower

Plural

unas flores

some flowers

Hay una flor en el florero.

There is a flower in the vase.

Necesito unos lápices para la escuela.

I need some pencils for school.

Un abrazo

A hug

For more on Spanish grammar check out these lessons!


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