Grammar: Articles

Spanish Grammar: Articles

Categories of Articles

  • In Spanish, articles are categorised into definite and indefinite articles. The definite articles are el, la, los, and las, which mean “the”. The indefinite articles are un, una, unos, unas, which mean “a, an, some”.

Definite Articles

  • Definite articles (el, la, los, las) are used in Spanish to talk about specific things or people that are known or unique. For instance, “El libro” means “The book”.
  • Spanish definite and indefinite articles must agree in gender (masculine/feminine) and number (singular/plural) with the noun they modify.
  • In Spanish, when referring to a noun in a general sense, definite articles are used.
  • Spanish uses a definite article before a noun when talking about a person even when it’s a proper name.
  • Spanish sometimes uses definite articles where English would not. This is especially common when talking about days of the week, body parts, and articles of clothing.
  • Be aware that certain prepositions combine with definite articles to form contractions.

Indefinite Articles

  • Indefinite articles (un, una, unos, unas) in Spanish are used to talk about things or people that are not known or not unique.

Exceptions and Specific Usages

  • Exception to use of articles: before the words “cierto”, “medio”, “mil”, “otro”, “que”, “tal”, “cien”, “cual”, and “mismo” and also before a noun of nationality or profession.
  • It’s important to become familiar with idiomatic expressions which disregard these rules for articles.
  • Use of the subject pronoun is often optional in Spanish, and more common in writing than in conversation. The verb ending usually provides information about the subject unless the subject is important for contrast.

Study Tips

  • Remember, practise and repetition is the key in mastering the use of Spanish articles. Interact more with Spanish texts and conversations. Test your understanding with numerous exercises.