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Spanish Definite Articles: A Complete Guide

Learning Spanish can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. One of the most important things to master when learning Spanish is the use of definite articles. Definite articles are used to refer to specific nouns, and they can be a bit tricky to learn.

In this guide, we will take a comprehensive look at Spanish definite articles. We will cover everything you need to know, from how to determine the gender of a noun to how to use the correct definite article in different contexts.

By the end of this guide, you will be a master of Spanish definite articles!

Here are some of the things we will cover in this guide:

  • What are definite articles?
  • How to determine the gender of a noun
  • How to use the correct definite article with singular nouns
  • How to use the correct definite article with plural nouns
  • Exceptions to the rules
  • Tips for learning Spanish definite articles

So whether you’re a beginner or an advanced learner, this guide is for you! Let’s get started!

In Spanish there are 4 definite articles: el, la, los & las in English its one: the. See chart below for correct Definite articles 

masculine or feminine & singular or plural EnglishSpanish
el is used before masculine singular nouns.the boyel niño
la is used before feminine singular nouns.the girlla niña
Los  is used before masculine plural nouns.the boyslos niños
Las  is used before feminine plural nouns.the girlslas niñas
Spanish Definite article chart

Definite Articles explained

In Spanish, all nouns (including words for things) have a gender, which is either masculine or feminine. This gender is important because it affects the way other words are used with the noun. For example, the definite article (the) changes depending on the gender of the noun. The definite article for masculine nouns is “el”, while the definite article for feminine nouns is “la”.

Nouns can also be singular or plural. The plural form of a noun is usually created by adding -s or -es to the end of the singular form. However, there are some exceptions to this rule.

It is important to remember the gender of a noun when using it in Spanish. This will help you to avoid making mistakes.

Here are some examples of Spanish nouns and their genders:

  • Examples of Spanish masculine singular nouns with the correct definite article:
    • el libro (book)
    • el perro (dog)
    • el hombre (man)
  • Examples of Spanish feminine singular nouns with the correct definite article:
    • la casa (house)
    • la mesa (table)
    • la mujer (woman)

Examples of Spanish masculine plural nouns with the correct definite article:

  • Los libros son interesantes. (The books are interesting.)
  • Los perros son animales domésticos. (Dogs are domestic animals.)
  • Los hombres son fuertes. (Men are strong.)

Examples of Spanish feminine plural nouns with the correct definite article:

  • Las casas son bonitas. (The houses are pretty.)
  • Las mesas son rectangulares. (Tables are rectangular.)
  • Las mujeres son inteligentes. (Women are intelligent.)

Definite Articles video lesson

Definite Articles in Spanish (FREE Review sheet)🤔 (Lesson 26)

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What we already know?

In order to know what definite articles are, we need to do a quick review:

  • Nouns are people, places and things.
  • Adjectives are words that describe nouns. They have a gender and match in number or quantities. They can either be feminine or masculine. Usually nouns that end in -o are masculine and ones that end in -a are feminine. It’s not an absolute rule but a good rule to know.

Note: Nouns having gender is not something that is used in English, but don’t panic, we got this! Let’s review some examples as a refresher!

Example(s):

NounFeminine or MasculineSingular or Plural 
mesamesa is femininemesa is singular 
mesasmesas is femininemesas is plural 
carrocarro is masculinecarro is singular 
carroscarros is masculinecarros is plural 

What about nouns that do not end in -o or -a?

NounFeminine or MasculineSingular or Plural 
estudianteCan be either feminine or masculineestudiante is singular 
estudiantesCan be either feminine or masculineestudiantes is plural 
corazon corazon is singular 
corazones corazones is plural 

Tip: These will just need to be memorized, there’s no ‘rule’ for these!

DEEP DIVE! What is the focus from this lesson?

We are going to learn how to say the feminine singular and feminine plural and the masculine singular and masculine plural. 

Let’s look at this example together:

Me gusta _____ carro.

Megusta_____carro.
   carro is singular and masculine
Megustaelcarro.
  el is the definite articlecarro is singular and masculine

Tip: Él (he) vs el (the) (check out the subject pronoun video)

Me gustan _____ carros.

Megustan_____carro.
   carro is singular and masculine
Megustanloscarros.
  los is the definite articlecarros is plural and masculine

Me gusta _____ bicicleta.

Megusta_____bicicleta.
   bicicleta is singular and feminine
Megustalabicicleta is singular and feminine
  el is the definite articlebicicleta is singular and feminine

What are definite articles?

  • So now we have learned that you have to choose between four definite articles: el, la, los and las. 
  • You select the correct definite article depending on the noun that it follows that can be either masculine or feminine (i.e. their gender)

Tip: 

  • In English, there is only one definite article: the. 
  • In English they can also be either singular or plural. 
  •  

How about when it’s a noun that ends in something other than -o or -a?

NounFeminine or MasculineSingular or Pluralel. la ,los ,las
heladoMasculineSingularel
helados   

Tip: definite articles in English are ‘the’ (specific); indefinite articles in English are ‘a’ (not specific) (check out the indefinite article video)

RECALL: el helado de chocolate (the chocolate ice cream)

What did we learn?

  • How to use nouns?
  • How to make nouns singular or plural? If it ends in a vowel add-s. If it ends in a consonant add -es.
  • How to determine if nouns are feminine or masculine? Most that end in -o are masculine. Most that end in -a are feminine. The others have to memorized.
  • How to add definite articles to nouns? Basically ‘the’ in English or a specific item like the chocolate ice cream. There are 4 el, la, los and las.