Spanish definite articles
Spanish definite articles are used to indicate a specific noun and they often correspond to the English the.
Unlike English, they provide information about the gender and the number of the noun which follows them.
- El gato de María tiene los ojos azules. (Maria's cat has blue eyes.)
- La camisa de Juan es negra. (Juan's shirt is black.)
- Los chicos que viven en la primera planta son de Granada. (The guys who live on the first floor are from Granada.)
- Me gustan las gafas de sol de Álvaro. (I like Alvaro's sunglasses.)
- 1.When to use the definite article in Spanish
- 1.1.With generic nouns
- 1.2.With days of the week
- 1.3.With language names
- 1.4.With parts of the body, items of personal hygiene and clothing
- 1.5.Telling time
- 1.6.With people's titles
- 1.7.With weights and measurements
- 1.8.With last names referring to the members of the family
- 1.9.With nouns designating specific people and things
- 1.10.With nouns that refer to geographic places (rivers, mountains)
- 2.When to omit the definite article in Spanish
- 2.1.Before titles when you addressing to someone
- 2.2.With school subjects
- 2.3.With ordinal numbers used in titles
- 2.4.With ser + someone's occupation
When to use the definite article in Spanish
Definite articles are used in the following cases:
With generic nouns
El ordenador ha revolucionado nuestra sociedad. (The computer has revolutionized our society.)
With days of the week
In this case, they stand for the English on.
El martes me voy al gimnasio. (On Tuesday, I go to the gym.)
With language names
El holandés y el alemán no son lenguas romances. (Dutch and German are not Romance languages.)
After hablar (to speak), the definite article is omitted.
No hablo holandés. (I do not speak Dutch.)
With parts of the body, items of personal hygiene and clothing
In English, they are replaced by possessive adjectives.
- Me duelen las rodillas. (My knees hurt: in this case, the definite article is replace by a possessive adjective)
- Si no te pones la camisa, no te dejarán entrar. (If you do not wear your shirt, they will not let you come in.)
Son las diez de la mañana. (It is ten o'clock in the morning).
With people's titles
- El doctor Martinez acaba de casarse. (Dr Martinez has just got married.)
- El alcalde decretó tres dias de luto. (The mayor ordered three days of mourning)
With weights and measurements
In this case, English omits the article.
- Los huevos cuestan a dos euros la docena. (Eggs cost two euros a dozen.)
- El pan se vende a un euro el kilo. (Bread is sold at one euro a kilo.)
With last names referring to the members of the family
When mentioning the last name of family's member, the proper names remain singular, while the articles take the plural form.
Los Costa no vienen a la fiesta. (The Costas are not coming to the party.)
With nouns designating specific people and things
Vi la película que me recomendaste. (I watched the movie you recomended.)
With nouns that refer to geographic places (rivers, mountains)
El Mont Blanc está en la frontera entre Italia y Francia. (Mont Blanc is on the border between Italy and France.)
When to omit the definite article in Spanish
The definite article is omitted in the following cases:
Before titles when you addressing to someone
Articles are omitted before title when you are talking to someone, or with San, Santo, Santa, Don, Doña.
- Sra. Romero, qué tal está? (Mrs. Romero, how are you?)
- Don Javier es un hombre muy romántico. (Don Javier is a very romantic man.)
With school subjects
José estudia económicas en la Universidad de Valencia. (José studies Economics at University of Valencia.)
With ordinal numbers used in titles
Juan Carlos I (Primero). Juan Carlos the First.
With ser + someone's occupation
Juan es médico. (Juan is a doctor.)
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