el, la, los, las – Spanish Definite Articles

Welcome 😊 to our grammar lesson on Spanish definite articles («artículos determinados»).

Definite articles in Spanish are: ellaloslas. They are equivalent to the English word «the».

By the end of this lesson, you will be able use these articles properly in sentences.

You will also find a Quiz and an Exercise to practice.

The 4 definite articles

In Spanish the article needs to match the noun’s gender and number. For that reason, 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

Use of definite articles

Here are 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 chicas 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 importante en la vida.
Love is 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.

Nosotros bailamos salsa los sábados.
We dance salsa on Saturdays.

El fin de semana tengo una cita.
On the weekend I have a date.

Yo 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 before the other hours:

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

Son las cuatro y veinte.
It’s twenty 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?

Practice

Quiz

Take this short Quiz about definite articles:


Exercise 1

Fill the gaps using «el – la – los – las». Click on the gray spaces to see the solutions.

Note: In this lesson, we haven’t really explained how to guess if a noun is masculine or feminine (we have another lesson for that). But you can try anyway!

1) La amistad es muy importante.
Friendship is very important.

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

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

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

Exercise 2

More sentences!:

5) Este es el señor Sánchez.
This is Mr. Sánchez.

6) Yo trabajo los lunes.
I work on Mondays.

7) El sábado vamos al cine a las diez.
On Saturday we go to the movies at ten.

8) ¿Qué es más importante: el dinero la salud?
Which is more important: money or health?