Spanish Definite Articles – “el, la, los, las”

Spanish Definite Articles

Welcome to our grammar lesson about Spanish Definite Articles.

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

Definite Articles in Spanish play the same role as the English word “the”. However, in Spanish we have 4 different forms, because articles need to match the gender and number of the noun they precede.

In this lesson we will learn everything about Spanish Definite Articles, providing examples of their use.

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

The 4 Definite Articles in Spanish

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”.

The following table shows the 4 Definite Articles:

 MasculineFeminine
Singularella
Pluralloslas

Examples of Definite Articles preceding Nouns

“el” + masculine singular noun:

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

“la” + feminine singular noun:

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

“los” + masculine plural noun:

los amigos, los vasos, los problemas
the friends, the glasses, 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 study the main uses of Definite Articles in Spanish with example sentences. They are the following:

Talking about specific things (equivalent to 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 there is no “the” in English):

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 the 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 the sentence expresses what day is today (or tomorrow, etc), then don’t use the definite 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 someone 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 definite article disappears when you address people directly, instead of talking about them in third person:

¡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 a definite article for “don” and “doña”, even when addressing them directly:

Don Manuel es muy trabajador.
Don Manuel is very hardworking

¡Hola, doña Luisa!
Hello, doña Luisa!

Practice Spanish Definite Articles

Quiz

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

Exercise

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

After completing the exercise, check the solutions below:

___ (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

Definite Vs. Indefinite Articles

In this lesson we have learned about Spanish Definite Articles. But there are other articles called indefinite articles. Click here to learn about Spanish Indefinite Articles!

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