Article in Spanish

What is an article in Spanish?

With dates:

The definite article goes in expressions that refer to dates for example the days of the week:

El examen es el miércoles (The exam is on Wednesday)

Mi cumpleaños es el 11 de Julio (My birthday is on 11thJuly)

Note: There are expressions used for dates that do not use the article. For example: Hoy es 18 de abril (Today is 18th April)

With times:

We always use the article to express something referred in a period of time or just to tell the time. For instance:

Es la una en punto (It is one o’clock)

El partido es a las tres (The game is at three)

With periods:

The definite article is commonly used in expressions referred to time. For example:

La semana que viene (The next week)

El año pasado (The last year)

When the noun followed starting with a “ha” or “a” stressed:

There is a substitution of “la” for “el” that takes place exclusively when it comes immediately before a singular feminine word that begins with a stressed a- or ha-.

The singular article would be in the masculine form, although the gender of the noun remains feminine: el arma (the weapon). In the plural form, the article reverts to the feminine: las armas (the weapons). A few examples to understand it:

El agua (water)                                                           El hambre (hunger)

El ama de casa (the housewife)                                 El habla (speech)

El águila (eagle)

El alma (soul)

El aula (the classroom)


Before academic subjects:

The definite article goes before academic subjects, for instance:

La biología (Biology), el cálculo (the calculus)


Before names of meals, colours, sports teams and languages:

The definite article is commonly used before names of meals, colours, sports teams and languages. Some examples to illustrate this:

El desayuno (breakfast)

La comida (lunch)

La cena (dinner)

El azul es mi color favorito (blue is my favorite colour)


NOTE: only when the colour is doing the function of a noun, not when it is an adjective (La casa es blanca –The house is white) or when it follows a preposition (El hombre de negro- the man in blanck).

El Real Madrid juega contra el Barcelona (Real Madrid and Barcelona are playing)

El ingles (English)

El español (Spanish)

El alemán (German)

NOTE: names of languages in Spanish are not capitalised

Before titles of people:

The definite article goes before tittles of people for example:

El señor García (Mister García)

El capitán garfio (Captain Hook)

La reina de inglaterra (English Queen)

El presidente de España (president of Spain)

Before some family relations:

The definite article is frequently used before the noun of relatives or family relations but not usually parents or siblings. For instance:

El tío Pedro está en Londres (Uncle Pedro is in London)

La abuela viene esta noche (Grandma is coming tonight)

Mamá está durmiendo (Mum is sleeping)

Before qualified names:

The definite article is not allowed before proper names but sometimes it is used before adjectives. Example:

El pequeño Óscar (young Óscar)

El gran Lebowski (the big Lebowski)

To denote possession:

In Spanish the article is used much more frequently than in English. English language use possessive (“my”, “your”, “his”, “their”, etc) where Spanish would use the definite article instead.

To refer to personal objects:

He olvidado las llaves (I have forgotten my keys)

Le duele la pierna (His/her leg hurts)

To refer to parts of the body:

Lávate las manos (Wash your hands)

Se está rascando la cabeza (He is scratching his head)

The neuter article

The neuter article “lo” never goes with a noun but could be used in the followings situations:

To express the English “the thing that…”

When you want to express “the thing that…” you should use the neuter article “lo” in Spanish. For example:

Lo importante es estar bien (the important thing is to be well)

Lo bonito es disfrutar (the nice thing is to enjoy)

Also, doing this function you can find lo + adjective or past participle:

Tienes que hacer lo acordado (You have to do what was agreed)

Hice lo posible por conseguir las entradas (I did the everything possible to get the tickets)

To refer a group of things with the quality or nature:

Me encanta lo español (I love Spanish things)

Le gusta lo rojo (He likes the red things)

To refer to a specific part of a whole:

En lo alto de la montaña (On the top of the montain)

Hay agua en lo más profundodelpozo (There is water on the deepest well)

The indefinite article

Indefinite articles or “Los artículos indefinidos” are used to express something that is not specific. It is a/an in English. For example, “I need to be in a house” (because it is raining, for example) is not the same as saying “I need to be in my/that house” which is definitely an specific one. When you are referring to an object that is not necessary specific or could be more than one we will use the indefinite article. This kind of article has singular, plural and gender (masculine and feminine). The article must always agree in number and gender with its noun.

Un profesor (A teacher-masculine)

Una profesora (A teacher-feminine)

Unos profesores (some teachers-masculine)

Unas profesoras (some teachers-feminine)

As you can see in the example, the indefinite article and noun change both depending on the gender and number.

Un estudiante (A boy-student)

Una estudiante (A girl-student)

Unos estudiantes (some students)

Unas estudiantes (some girl-students)

In this case, the indefinite article changes referring to the different possibilities of gender and number but the noun keeps the same when the gender changes and only changing with number.

NOTE: As in the case of the definite article, when a feminie word starts with “a or ha” the singular form of the article will be the masculine form to avoid the uncomfortable sound of two “a” together. In the plural, the article reverts to the corresponding feminine form.

Example:  Un aula (a classroom)             Unas aulas (some classrooms)

Exceptions and omissions of the article in Spanish

Sometimes no article is required in Spanish unlike in English. Check out the following cases:

Some expressions with the verb tener (to have) such ailments and possessions/personal effects:

Tengo fiebre/tos/dolor de cabeza/dolor de espalda/

(I have got a temperature/cough/a headache/a bad back)

Tengo coche/pasaporte/bicicleta

(I have got a car/passport/bike)

Ser + profession:

El es profesor (he is a teacher)

Ella quiere ser dentista (she wants to be a dentist)

Es representante de artistas (he is a manager of artists)

-Nationality, religion, gender, political persuasion and sexual orientation:

Es español (He is (a) Spanish)

Ella es protestante (She is a protestant)

¿Es niño o niña? (Is it a boy or a girl?)

Mi tío es comunista (My uncle is a communist)

Ella es lesbian (she is a lesbian)

Amounts: A hundred, a thousand:

Mil euros (A thousand euros)

Cien libras (A hundred pounds)

In the expression “What a …”:

¡Qué pena! (What a pity!)

¡Qué idiota! (What an idiot!)

¡Qué magnifica mañana! (What a great morning!)

¡Qué precioso día! (What a beautiful day!)

Definite article in Spanish, indefinite article in English:

When talking about physical characteristics, English uses the indefinite article while definite article is usually preferred in Spanish.

El tiene la cabeza grande (He’s got a big head)

Tengo la boca pequeña (I’ve got a small mouth)

We hope we helped with the Spanish lessons – demonstratives. (Spanish info)