Spanish Definite Articles

el la los las in Spanish - Spanish Definite Articles

Welcome to our grammar lesson about Spanish definite articles (“artículos determinados”).

Definite articles are: ellaloslas.

They precede nouns in many circumstances. They are equivalent to the English word “the”.

In Spanish we have 4 different forms because the article needs to match the noun’s gender and number.

This lesson will teach you everything about Spanish definite articles, with many examples of their use.

At the end you’ll find a Quiz and an Exercise for practice.

The 4 definite articles

Because we need to match the noun’s gender and number, there are 4 different definite articles equivalent to the English “the”:

 MasculineFeminine
Singularella
Pluralloslas


Examples with nouns

el + masculine singular noun:

el coche, el profesor, el café, el árbol
the car, the teacher, the coffee, the tree


la + feminine singular noun:

la casa, la música, la comida, la ciencia
the house, the music, the food, the science


los + masculine plural noun:

los amigos, los coches, los problemas
the friends, the cars, the problems


las + feminine plural noun:

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

Uses of definite articles

We will now review the main uses of definite articles, with example sentences.

Before specific things (equivalent to the English “the”)

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

Las niñas estudian para los exámenes.
The girls study for the exams.


Before general concepts (even when in English there might be no “the”)

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

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


“el” and “los” for the days of the week

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.
On the weekend I have a date with a girl.

No trabajo los fines de semana.
I don’t work on weekends.

Exception! In sentences that simply express what day is today (or tomorrow, etc), we don’t use the article:

Hoy es lunes.
Today is Monday.

Mañana es martes.
Tomorrow is Tuesday.


“la” and “las” for telling the time

la only before “una”, las for any other case:

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

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

La fiesta empieza a la una.
The party starts at one.

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


Talking about someone using his title (“señor, doctor…”)

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

La señora García está aquí.
Mrs. García is here. 

El doctor Fernández es muy prestigioso.
Dr. Fernández is very prestigious.

Exception! We don’t use the article when we 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. Garcia, should I take any medications?


Also, we never use articles before “don” and “doña”, doesn’t matter if we address them or talk about them:

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

¡Hola, doña Luisa!
Hello, doña Luisa!

Practice

Quiz

Take this short Quiz to test your knowledge about “el – la – los – las”:

Exercise

In this exercise we are going to practice definite articles in sentences.

Fill the gaps using “el – la – los – las”.

Be careful! In a couple of cases you need to leave it blank:

__ (1) amistad es muy importante para ser feliz.
Friendship is very important to be happy.

Estos son __ (2) padres de Juan.
These are Juan’s parents.

__ (3) templo es muy antiguo.
The temple is very old.

Me gustan __ (4) fresas con nata.
I like strawberries with cream.

Este es __ (5) señor Sánchez.
This is Mr. Sánchez.

¡Hola, __ (6) señor Sánchez!
Hello, Mr. Sánchez!

Mañana es __ (7) lunes, y __ (8) lunes trabajo.
Tomorrow is Monday, and on Mondays I work.

__ (9) sábado vamos al cine a __ (10) diez.
On Saturday we go to the movies at ten.

Solutions:
1) La
2) los
3) El
4) las
5) el
6) (blank)
7) (blank)

8) los
9) El

10) las

What about indefinite articles?

In this lesson we have learned about definite articles.

But there are other articles in Spanish, called indefinite articles (ununaunosunas).

Click here to learn about Spanish Indefinite Articles!