In Spanish there are definite articles and indefinite articles. In this post I will go over Spanish articles and their use.
When to use articles in Spanish
Think about the English grammar rules on articles and they are basically the same in the Hispanic language.
You do not use articles in Spanish when you are speaking about something very generally. Like ‘I eat Mexican tacos’ translated in Spanish to (Puedo comer tacos mexicanos.) Note thin this sentence there is no Spanish article because you are talking in general.
Also notice that plurals often to not take articles in Spanish, but it depends how use speak about the noun.
Here is an example of when you do use the definite article in Spanish. The Mexican taco on the table. El taco de México sobre la mesa. Use the definite article ‘el’ in Spanish because it is a real concrete taco that we both can see and eat.
She is a Spanish girl. – Ella es una chica española. Uses the indefinite article ‘una’ because she is a Spanish girl in general, rather then a specific girl.
Compare the above with this – ‘The Spanish girl in my room.’ – La niña española en mi cuarto. See how the more concrete or definite nouns take ‘the’ instead of ‘a’? These Spanish rules of grammar are similar to English rules regarding articles.
What are the definite in Spanish
The definite noun Articles in the Spanish language are
El and La. What is a definite article? For people who do not study linguistics, a definite article is like in English ‘the’. That is it used for a concrete nouns. Something that is known to the speaker for being famous or was mentioned before.
El is used before a masculine singular noun.
La is used before a feminine singular noun.
What about neuter nouns in Spanish? Unlike many European languages there are no
neuter nouns in the Spanish language. This makes it easier.
Below are some examples of masculine and feminine singular nouns in Spaiish which take the definite articles:
El hombre (the man) – La mujer (the woman)
El recibo (the receipt) – La cuenta (the account)
El libro (the book) – La pluma (the pen)
Note that in Spanish a feminine ending is the letter ‘a’ while a masculine ending is ‘e’ or ‘o’. Generally masculine nouns are more common but this is a huge generalization.
Los is used before a masculine plural noun.
Las is used before a feminine plural noun.
Here are some examples below of Spanish definite articles in the plural.
Los muchachos (the boys) – Las señoras (the ladies)
Los géneros (the goods) – Las facturas (the invoices)
Los lápices (the pencils) – Las cartas (the letters).
Notice the Spanish endings of the nouns in the plural for masculine nouns ‘os’.
The feminine endings for nouns have a ‘as’ ending.
What about the neuter definite article in Spanish I have herd about? You said there is no neuter form? Well here is what there is – there is kind of a “neuter form” which is Lo. It
its not used before a noun but rather it us used before other parts of speech for an abstract idea, as Yo amo lo bello (I love the beautiful,
viz., all that which is beautiful), Lo sublime (the sublime, viz., all
that which is sublime).
The Indefinite Article in Spanish
Un is used before a masculine singular noun.
Una is used before a feminine singular noun.
Here are some simple examples of this grammar of the indefinite articles in the Hispanic language.
Un amigo (a friend) – Una amiga (a lady – friend)
Un padre (a father) – Una madre (a mother)
The indefinite article is just like it sounds like. It is used when we refer to something that is not known or has not been mentioned. This is similar to English. Think about when you us the word ‘a’ – you use it when you are speaking about something which the listener has not herd before or is used in general.
The Indefinite Article has no plural, but the Spanish plural forms
“unos” (masc.) and “unas” (fem.) translate the English words “some” or
“any,” as Unos hermanos (some brothers), Unas hermanas (some sisters),
Unos tinteros (some inkstands), Unas mesas (some tables). (The Spanish
words “Algunos,” “Algunas,” are also used for the same purpose.)
Let me know what you think about my treatment of Spanish grammar and its organization. If you have any ideas on how it could be presented clearer let me know. Or if you have any other suggestions on Spanish articles and their presentation here.