Definite articles in Spanish
One of the most important lessons on your journey towards speaking Spanish fluently is understanding the concept of definite articles in Spanish. When referring to a noun, you will always need to use definite and indefinite articles in Spanish and it is for this reason that this is a very important part to understand.
When we talk about definite articles, we are normally referring to specific nouns. In Spanish, there are 4 definite articles. Let’s take a look at some examples of definite articles in Spanish:
The above articles are singular definite articles and plural definite articles in Spanish. How you use them will depend on the root word and, more often than not, they will be accompanied by the actual article.
In Spanish, each article is either masculine, feminine, plural masculine or plural feminine.
Each definite article will indicate the gender (feminine or masculine) as well as the number of the article (singular or plural).
As you can see from the above, there are 4 different kinds of articles in the Spanish language. When translated into English, they all mean “the”. As you progress on your Spanish journey, you will also notice that there are many times that these cannot be directly translated into English, but they are helpful in that they tell you what the gender of the noun (or article) is.
Definite articles in Spanish
Below, you will see a list of the definite article forms in Spanish:
- el (masculine, singular)
- la (feminine, singular)
- los (masculine, plural)
- las (feminine, plural)
Every noun in Spanish must be matched to its gender and number.
For example, “salsa” is a feminine and singular noun and is therefore written as “la salsa”. If you would like to indicate the plural form of this word, it will, therefore, be “las salsas”.
Of course, as with every language, there are always exceptions. In Spanish, if a singular noun begins with a stressed “ha” or “a” sound, you will make use of the masculine definite article, and not the feminine definite article. However, when you want to pluralize that article, it will revert to the feminine form.
Below are some common feminine Spanish nouns that require a masculine article (el) when expressed in the singular:
- el agua (but las aguas): water
- el hacha (but las hachas): axes
- el águila (but las águilas): eagles
If you would like to describe a group of mixed sex animals or people, you would automatically use the masculine plural form. For example, a group of cats where one or more of the cats are male would be expressed as “los gatos”. If the group consists of only female cats, you would say “las gatas”.
Once you have mastered how to use the definite article in Spanish, you will have learnt a very important component of the language.
Would you like to keep learning Spanish? Visit our post about Days of the week, months and seasons in Spanish.
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