Definite articles in Spanish: basic grammar (A1)

Definite articles in Spanish is the topic we are going to learn today. To start with, you must know that there are two types of articles, definite and indefinite. In English, the definite article is «THE». Nevertheless, Spanish use four different forms, as you can see below:

Definite articles in Spanish

The Spanish definite articles called «artículos determinados», agree in gender (masculine/feminine) and number (singular/plural) with the noun. Spanish and English differ substantially in the way in which they use definite articles, as you will see from the notes and examples below.

A tip, learning new words along with their article will help you to identify the gender of nouns quickly. For example, instead, of learning just «flor» (flower), you must learn «la flor«, which will help you to remember that flower is feminine in Spanish.

Choosing the right Spanish definite article

Here are some examples of these definitive articles in action:

El árbol es grande. (The tree is big.)

Los libros son interesantes. (The books are interesting.)

La chica es alta. (The girl is tall.)

Las casas son blancas. (The houses are white.)

Using definite articles in Spanish

You come across many instances in Spanish where you use the definite article even though you may or may not use it in English. The rules in the following list show how you use definite articles in Spanish:

01. With nouns in a general or abstract sense:

El amor es maravilloso. (Love is wonderful.)

02. With nouns in a specific sense:

La tía Ana trae regalos. (Aunt Ana brings gifts.)

03. With names of languages (except after the verb hablar and after the prepositions de and en):

Me gusta el español. (I like Spanish.)

¿Dónde está mi libro de español? (Where’s my Spanish book?)

Escríbame en español. (Write to me in Spanish.)

04. With parts of the body (when the possessor is clear) in place of the possessive adjective:

Me duelen los pies. (My feet hurt.)

05. With titles and ranks when you aren’t addressing the person:

La señora Rivera está aquí. (Mrs. Rivera is here.)

Siéntese, Señora Rivera. (Have a seat, Mrs. Rivera.)

06. With last names:

Los Gómez viven en Colombia. (The Gómezes live in Colombia.)

07. With days of the week (except after the verb ser):

El domingo voy a México. (On Sunday I’m going to Mexico.)

Hoy es miércoles. (Today is Wednesday.)

08. With seasons (you may omit the article after en):

No trabajo en (el) verano. (I don’t work in the summer.)

09. With the hour of the day and other time expressions:

Son las once y media. (It’s 11:30.)

Salgo por la tarde. (I’m going out in the afternoon.)

10. With rivers, seas, and other geographical locations:

El Orinoco es un río. (The Orinoco is a river.)

11. As we said above, there are other articles called indefinite (in English, they are «a and an». Let’s see how indefinite articles work in Spanish.

Definite articles exercises

Now is the time to practice what you have learned with this mini-test. Remember you can contact your tutor with any question you have about definite articles in Spanish. Don’t you have a Spanish tutor yet?

Click on the link if you want to watch a video with more information about articles in Spanish.

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