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How to Use ARTICLES in Spanish Correctly (Trickier Than You’d Think!) 📚

How to Use ARTICLES in Spanish Correctly (Trickier Than You'd Think!) 📚 [SPANISH LESSON 18]

In this video, I’m going to teach you los artículos en español (the articles in Spanish). In English, the articles that exist are “the” and “a”… and that’s it. However, in Spanish we have: el, la, lo, los, la, un, una, unos and unas. But fear not! After reading this text, you will know exactly when to use each article!

The Basics

Before we take off, we should go over the basics. Did you know that definite and indefinite articles exist in English? Tada! “The” is the definite article, and both “a” and “an” are indefinite articles.

In both languages, definite articles are used when reference is being made to a specific thing, place, or person. In Spanish, the article el is used when the noun is masculine and singular, while the article la is used when the noun is feminine and singular.

Please note that el does not have an accent, because if you use an accent mark, you will change the meaning completely: instead “the” it would mean “he”. So, es muy importante (it’s very important) that you respect that rule. 

Now, let’s review some examples:

  • El perro más viejo (the oldest dog)
  • La clase de los artículos (the article's lesson)

As regards the plural form:

  • El becomes Los (masculine)
  • La becomes Las (feminine)

Examples

So, let’s have a look at more examples of it:

  • Los perros más pequeños (the smaller dogs)
  • Las clases de español (the Spanish lessons)

How do we know if the noun is masculino or feminino? Well, go and check out the video that I made for you to identify the gender of nouns. In that video, I provide you with useful tips that you may apply in your daily life while learning Spanish.

Neuter article

And just when you thought that Spanish has only two articles, because there are only two genders, right? Actually, there is a third definite article called neutro (neuter), which is used for general ideas or concepts and does not make reference to any gender.

Lo is usually followed by an adjective. Let’s see some examples:

  • Lo más importante (the most important) — in English we should add the word “thing” so it makes sense, i.e. the most important thing
  • Lo más importante es respirar. (Breathing is the most important thing.)
  • Lo mejor (the best)

Indefinite articles

In English, an indefinite article is used to refer to a general thing; for example, an exam or a school. It could be any school or any exam.

In Spanish, un is used when the general thing we are referring to is masculino (masculine) and una if it's femenino (femenine).

Let’s go over some examples with some phrases:

  • Somos una escuela de español. (We are a Spanish school.)
  • Una niña (a girl)

This is how to use them in plural:

So, in Spanish we use unos if masculine or unas if feminine. The proper translation into English would be “some”.

For example:

  • Tengo unos exámenes mañana. (I have some exams tomorrow.)
  • Quiero unos zapatos nuevos. (I want some new shoes.)

Summary

Definite articles are used to talk about specific things, people, or places. Those articles are el and los if the thing, person, or place is masculino, and la or las if the thing, person, or place is feminine.

Indefinite articles are used to refer to unspecific things or concepts. If a thing or concept is masculine, the proper article should be un (singular) or unos (plural) and una (singular) or unas (plural).

As a reminder, the article lo is used for general things and doesn’t respond or refer to any gender, and is usually accompanied by an adjective.

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