Definite Articles in Spanish. Forms and Uses

Definite articles in Spanish (“Artículos determinados”) are a collection of words that precede nouns in many circumstances, indicating its gender and number.

They are all equivalent to the English word “the”, but in Spanish you have to match the gender and number of the noun, resulting in 4 Definite Articles: “el, la, los, las”.

In this post we will go through these points:

  1. Forms
  2. Examples with nouns
  3. Some Uses

 

1. Forms

 MasculineFeminine
Singularella
Pluralloslas

 

2. Examples with nouns

Examples of “el + singular masculine nouns:

el coche, el profesor, el sol, el árbol = the car, the teacher, the sun, the tree

 

Examples of “la + singular feminine nouns:

la casa, la música, la comida, la naturaleza = the house, the music, the food, the nature

 

Examples of “los + plural masculine nouns:

los amigos, los vasos, los problemas = the friends, the glasses, the problems

 

Examples of “las+ plural feminine nouns:

las señoras, las manzanas, las acciones = the ladies, the apples, the actions




3. Some Uses 

3.1. Talking about specific things (translation of the English “the”)

El perro está en la casa = The dog is in the house.

Los niños estudiaron para los exámenes = The kids studied for the exams

 

3.2. Talking about general concepts (sometimes, even when in English the “the” is missing):

El amor es muy importante en la vida = Love is very important in life.

La verdad os hará libres. = Truth will set you free

Los libros ayudan mucho en la educación = Books are of great help in education.

 

3.3. “El” and “los” for days of the week

To talk about the days of the week, use definite articles (“el” for singular, “los” for plural).

El martes tengo clase de español. = On Tuesday I have Spanish class. 

Los sábados bailamos salsa. = Saturdays we dance salsa.

El fin de semana tengo una cita con una chica. = I have a date with a girl on the weekend.

Los fines de semana no trabajo. = I don’t work on weekends.

Exception! When we announce what day is today (or tomorrow, etc), that kind of sentence is told without the article:

Hoy es lunes. = Today is Monday.

Mañana es martes = Tomorrow is Tuesday.

 

3.4. “La” and “las” for telling the time:

“La” only when it’s one. “Las” for the rest of the hours.

Es la una = It’s one o’clock.

Son las cuatro y media = It’s half past four

Hemos empezado a la una = We have started at one

¿Tienes tiempo a las siete? = Do you have time at seven?

 

3.5. Talking about a third person using his title:

Este es el señor López. = This is Mr. López

La señora García ha llegado. = Mrs García has arrived. 

El doctor Fernández tiene mucho prestigio. = Dr. Fernández is very prestigious

Be careful! The article goes away when you address these people instead of talking about them:

¡Señor López, está usted aquí! = Mr. López, you are here!

Doctora García, ¿debo tomar algún medicamento? = Dr. García, should I take some medicine?

And finally, never use an article for “don” and “doña”, doesn’t matter if you are talking about these people or addressing them directly:

Don Manuel es muy trabajador. = Don Manuel is very hardworking

Hola, ¡doña Luisa! = Hello, doña Luisa!

 

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