Using Definite Articles

Dan-H24 January 4, 2017, 12:27 pm
After studying Spanish for as long as I have, I can't believe I still have such a basic question, but so be it...

Spanish uses definite articles much more than we do in English, such as this phrase from lesson 15.4:

“Y mi palabra es la ley.”
"And my word is law."

Another example (my own construction):

"I began the flash cards for lesson 15.4"
"Comencé las tarjetas de memoria por la lección 15.4"


The use of definite articles seems a bit inconsistent and arbitrary in sentences such as these. It seems that, most times, using the definite article is correct even when not used in the corresponding English sentence, but other times it is not used in a sentence of the same basic construction.

Has anyone else encountered this inconsistency, or am I missing a basic rule of Spanish grammar here? Or is truly optional and either construction is correct?



 
Using Definite Articles
KelllaurBailar January 4, 2017, 2:48 pm
Dan,
       I would say that both are correct, at least in conversational terms. Honestly, I would see the direct translation of the first sentence into English as "And my word is the law" because if standing alone "la ley" is "the law." And in the second sentence, one would think the direct translation into English would be "I began the flash cards for the lesson 15.4." Perhaps the seemingly "extra" articles are simply added for a certain amount of emphasis and clarity.
Using Definite Articles
the-hefay January 5, 2017, 3:11 pm
When and when not to use the definite articles is something I have struggles with also.  When in doubt I always use them.  However, it seems that when the noun is characteristic or one in nature with the subject then it doesn't need the article such as the following:  "Dios es luz" o "Dios es amor."

​This is just my observation and may or may not have any real value. 
Using Definite Articles
Steven-W15 January 6, 2017, 10:49 am
Indeed. I just came across an example where I would have definitely put in an article:
- And, to tell you the truth...    Y, a decir verdad...    

I think there are cases where it's just the way you say it (like a formula) and that adds to the confusion. I've been finding out though from people learning English that these kinds of things are much more complicated for them!
 
Using Definite Articles

Ask a question or a post a response

If you want to ask a question or post a response you need to be a member.

  • If you are already a member login here.

  • If you are not a member you can become one by taking the free Rocket Spanish trial here.

Over 1,200,000 people love Rocket Languages

Here's what Rocket Languages members have to say:

Andrei Freeman - Pennsylvania, USA

Andrei
Freeman

Pennsylvania, USA

Rudi Kopp - USA

Rudi
Kopp

USA

Carmen Franceschino - Pennsylvania, USA

Carmen
Franceschino

Pennsylvania, USA

Kelly Scali - Chicago, USA

Kelly
Scali

Chicago, USA

Mark Waddel - Auckland, NZ

Mark
Waddell

Auckland, NZ

William McGill - Florida, USA

William
McGill

Florida, USA

Probably the best language tool I've come across. Actually love it more than Rosetta Stone and Duolingo

Try our award-winning online Spanish course for FREE 受賞歴ありの英語学習ソフトウェアを無料でお試しください Pruebe nuestro galardonado software del idioma inglés GRATIS

(And see how easy it actually is to learn Spanish... even if you've tried and failed before) (そして英語学習がどれだけ簡単か、肌で感じてみてください…今までに失敗したことのある人でもそれが分かるでしょう) (Y vea qué tan fácil es en realidad aprender inglés… aún si lo ha intentado y fallado antes)