Definite and Indefinite Articles
The difference between definite articles and indefinite articles can be seen in the following two sentences:
Puedes darme el chocolate? (Can you give me the chocolate ? ) = specific
Puedes darme un chocolate? (Can you give me a chocolate? ) = any chocolate
The first sentence speaks of a particular (definite) chocolate. The second sentence speaks of any (indefinite) chocolate.
In Spanish, the definite article has 4 forms, depending on whether the noun is masculine, feminine, singular or plural.*
masculine singular: El
el libro (the book)
masculine plural: LOS
los libros (the books)
feminine singular: LA
la casa (the house)
feminine plural: LAS
las casas (the houses)
lo bonito (the beautiful)
The most important use of the article LO is when you use it to transform an adjective into a noun. For example:
Lo blanco me encanta (I love all white things).
All singular feminine nouns that start with a-, ha- or are accented, use the article EL. For example:
el agua (the water), el hada (the fairy), el arma (the firearm), el águila (the eagle)
This happens only when the nouns are singular because when they are plural the correct form is:
las aguas (the waters), las hadas (the fairies), las armas (firearms), las águilas (the eagles)
In Spanish two prepositions are combined with the definite article, rather than being used separately:
A+EL = AL
DE +EL = DEL
The definite article is always used before a surname when it is used with señor, señora, señorita. For example:
el señor lópez
la señora López
la señorita López
The days of the week use the definite articles too.
The indefinite article has 4 forms, depending on whether the noun is masculine, feminine, singular or plural.
Masculine singular: un
un lápiz (a pen)
Masculine plural: unos
unos lapices (some pens)
Feminine singular: una
una caja (a box )
Feminine plural: unas
unas cajas (some boxes )
If in the group there is at least one male member, the masculine plural article is used.
Singular feminine nouns follow the same rule as for the definite articles:
un agua (a water), una hada (a fairy), etc.
UNOS and UNAS in front of numbers means ‘around’, for example:
Tengo unos ocho libros de español. (I have around eight Spanish books.)