Definite Articles in Spanish. Forms and Uses

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

They are all equivalent to the English word “the”.


Forms

Because in Spanish we need to match the gender and number of the noun, there are 4 different Definite Articles equivalent to the English «the», which are:

 MasculineFeminine
Singularella
Pluralloslas





Examples with nouns

el + masculine singular nouns:

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


la + feminine singular nouns:

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


los + masculine plural nouns:

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


las+ feminine plural nouns:

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


Some Uses 

Talking about specific things (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


Talking about general concepts (even when sometimes 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.


“El” and “los” for days of the week

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 say 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.


“La” and “las” for telling the time:

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

Es la una y media= It is half past one.

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?


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 directly, 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?

Also, never use an article for “don” and “doña”, neither when talking about people nor when addressing them directly:

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

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


Click here to see all our Grammar Lessons