Definite Articles in Spanish – EL, LA, LOS, LAS

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”.

In this lesson we will go through the following points:

1. Definite Articles: 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


2. 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


3. Uses of Spanish Definite Articles

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 at times when in English “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 what time it is:

“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 (“señor, doctor…”)

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 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!


4. Practice: A Quiz

Take this short Quiz to test your knowledge about Definite Articles:


5. Practice: An Exercise

Fill the gaps in your mind or on a piece of paper, using Definite Articles. Be careful, in some cases you need to leave it blank!

After completing the exercise, check the solutions at the end of this post.

___ (1) amistad es fundamental para ser feliz.
Estos son ___ (2) padres de Juan.
___ (3) templo es muy antiguo.
Me encantan ___ (4) fresas con nata.
“Este es ___ (5) señor Sánchez”. “¡Hola, ___ (6) señor Sánchez!”.
Mañana es ___ (7) lunes. Todos ___ (8) lunes trabajo.
___ (9) próximo sábado vamos al cine a ___ (10) nueve de la noche.

Solutions to the Exercise: 1 = La, 2 = los, 3 = El, 4 = las, 5 = el, 6 = (blank), 7 = (blank), 8 = los, 9 = El, 10 = las