Spanish Definite and Indefinite Articles
In Spanish, an article is a grammatical determinant that indicates a reference to a concrete or known element or to an unknown and more general one. In this Spanish lesson you will learn about the two types of articles and how to use them properly.
You may not have learned this in grammar school, but in English the word “the” is a definite article. That is because it points to a very specific thing.
For example, you may tell someone, “I want the mug,” assuming that they will bring you the mug you have in mind. However, if you tell them, “I want a mug,” you will get whatever mug they choose to hand you!
That is because the words “a” or “an” are indefinite articles.
How to Say “The” in Spanish
Spanish has definite and indefinite articles as well. However, as mentioned before, Spanish speakers must suit the form of the article to the gender of the noun it precedes. Remember el hombre and la mujer?
What you didn’t know then was that the article must also reflect the quantity of the noun—whether or not it is singular or plural.
For example, if there is one man, we speak of el hombre. If there are two or more men, we speak of los hombres.
If there is one woman, we speak of la mujer. If there are two or more women, we speak of las mujeres.
You can see how the Spanish forms of “the” are used in the following table:
El chico / Los chicos
The boy / The boys
La chica / Las chicas
The girl / The girls
Las manzanas están podridas.
The apples are rotten.
El libro está en mi maleta.
The book is in my bag.
Compré los libros en la librería.
I bought the books in the bookstore.
Las chicas salieron a correr.
The girls went running.
How to Say “A” or “An” in Spanish
In Spanish, there are four forms of the indefinite articles “a,” “an,” or “some.”
Hay una flor en el florero.
There is a flower in the vase.
Necesito unos lápices para la escuela.
I need some pencils for school.