Articles in Spanish

Los Artículos

After dealing with the absurdity behind Spanish nouns having a well-defined gender or certain nouns being singular or plural when common sense would suggest it should be the other way round, here is a set of tiny powerful words which will show there is light at the end of the tunnel.

You can call them lifesavers or, from a purely grammatical standpoint, artículos (articles). They are unquestionably key when it comes to determine a noun’s gender and number and, similar to what happens in English, a distinction is drawn between artículos definidos (definite) and indefinidos (indefinite). The former type of articles is used when referring to a noun the listener/reader is already familiar with as it has previously been mentioned.

Conversely, indefinite articles are employed when introducing an unknown noun for the first time. Unlike English though, each article type presents four forms which agree with nouns they accompany and precede depending on its gender (masculine or feminine) and number (singular or plural).

ARTÍCULOS INDEFINIDOS

SINGULAR PLURAL
MASCULINO un chico (a boy)
un rey (a king)
un autobús (a bus)
unos chicos (a few boys)
unos reyes (a few kings)
unos autobuses (some buses)
FEMENINO una chica (a girl)
una señora (a woman)
una estrella (a bus)
unas chicas (some girls)
unas señoras (a few women)
unas estrellas (some stars)


ARTÍCULOS DEFINIDOS

SINGULAR PLURAL
MASCULINO el tomate (the tomato)
el señor (the man)
el bolígrafo (the pen)
los tomates (the tomatoes)
los señores (the men)
los bolígrafos (the pens)
FEMENINO la reina (the queen)
la escena (the scene)
la nube (the cloud)
las reinas (the queens)
las escenas (the scenes)
las nubes (the clouds)

 

SINGULAR PLURAL
FEMENINO un alma (a soul)
el águila (the eagle)
un hada (a fairy)
una hamaca (a hammock)
la inmensa arca (the great ark)
unas almas (a few souls)
las águilas (the eagles)
unas hadas (some fairies)
unas hamacas (some hammocks)
las inmensas arcas (the great arks)

 

The only exception occurs when using articles right before singular feminine nouns starting with a stressed -a or -ha. These nouns will in fact adopt the singular masculine article, either definite or indefinite, to avoid difficulty in articulation due to the double a sound.


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