Definite Article

Artículo definido

The Spanish definite article is sometimes confusing for beginning students, because it has to agree in gender and number with the noun it modifies, and it doesn’t always correspond to an article in other languages.

For me, it helps to remember that if you have a noun in Spanish, there is virtually always an article (either definite or indefinite) in front of it, unless you use a possessive (my, your, etc.) or a demonstrative (this, that) adjective. It is also vital that when you learn new vocabulary, you make sure to learn the gender of each noun, because the articles (as well as adjectives, pronouns, and just about everything else) change according to the gender of the noun.

The Spanish definite article corresponds with "the" in English. There are four Spanish definite articles.

    Singular   Plural
Masculine   el   los
Feminine   la   las

Using definite articles

The definite article indicates a specific noun.

¿Dónde está el libro?   Where is the book?
Las chicas quieren comer.   The girls want to eat.

Contrarily, the definite article is also used in Spanish to indicate the general sense of a noun. The article is not used in this sense in English.

Me gusta el café.   I like coffee.
¡Así es la vida!   That’s life!

The masculine singular definite article changes when preceded by the preposition a or de: the preposition and article contract into a single word.

a + el   al
de + el   del

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