In Spanish, articles are short words that aid in defining a noun. They define nouns in terms of number and gender and always come before them. Since “the,” “a,” and “an” are used as articles in English, if you know the language, you are already familiar with the articles.

The Spanish articles are identical, except they provide both the number and the noun’s gender. Because of this, there are nine articles in Spanish overall, compared to just three in English.

Learn definite and indefinite articles in Spanish

Understanding definite and indefinite articles in Spanish

In Spanish, when discussing a noun whose identity is known to the speaker or reader, definitive articles are used. In other words, use definite articles when referring to a specific noun instead of a broad one. In these cases, the definite article “the” is used in English.
In Spanish, the definite articles are:

  • El
  • La
  •  Lo
  • Los
  • Las

You would ask for “the salt” to be passed to you at the dinner table, for instance. People will understand that you are talking about that particular salt container if a salt shaker is on the table. You could wish to ask the waiter for some salt if it’s missing from the table.

Since you are unsure of the noun’s identity in this instance, you cannot use a definite article. You know that salt is being consumed, but you are unsure of the specific type of salt.

The five definitive articles are shown below in Spanish, along with usage examples:

TypeArticleExample sentenceEnglish
Masculine singularel¡Buena suerte en el examen!Good luck with the test!
Feminine singularlaLa sandía es mi fruta favorita.Watermelon is my favorite fruit.
Neutral singularloLo mejor de vivir en Medellín es la buena música.The best part about living in Medellín is the great music.
Masculine plurallosLos leones son mis animales favoritos.Lions are my favorite animals.
Feminine plurallasLas azaleas son mis flores favoritas.Azaleas are my favorite flowers.

In Spanish, nouns whose identification is uncertain are defined by indefinite articles. Stated differently, you are unsure about the specific term or group you refer to. This is the same as “a” and “an” in English. In Spanish, the indefinite articles are:

  • Un
  • Una
  •  Unos
  • Unas

For instance, you would use an indefinite article to express your desire for a cup of coffee. In this instance, any cup of coffee will serve; you’re not desiring a particular kind. However, you might yearn for the coffee you drank at that small coffee shop the other day if you travel through Colombia’s coffee belt. You can’t use an indefinite article here as you’re talking about a specific coffee cup. Here are some more examples of when to utilize Spanish indefinite articles.

TypeArticleExample sentenceEnglish
Masculine singularunConocer Sudámerica siempre ha sido un sueño para mí.Visiting South America has always been a dream of mine.
Feminine singularunaCon este calor, ¡se me antoja mucho una cerveza helada!This heat is making me crave a cold beer!
Masculine pluralunosCompré unos vegetales en camino a casa.I bought some vegetables on my way home.
Feminine pluralunasNecesito unas calcetas nuevas.I need some new socks.

Learning how to learn Spanish grammar is essential to gain fluency. Grammar helps you structure sentences correctly. You can seek guidance from books, online content including videos, YouTube channels, and language-learning websites to master Spanish grammar and its rules.

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Table of definite and indefinite articles in Spanish

This table is for you if you already understand the Spanish content and just need a review! Here is a brief summary of all the articles in Spanish, complete with easy-to-follow examples.

Singularmasculineelel trenunun animal
femininelala camisetaunauna playa
neutrallolo malo
Pluralmasculineloslos árbolesunosunos tacos
femininelaslas casasunasunas enchiladas

When to include articles in Spanish?

Understanding the Spanish articles is a fantastic place to start when learning to use them effectively. The actual difficulty, however, lies in understanding when to apply them. Here are several instances in which Spanish-language articles are required.

Personal identity

You’re the best momEres la mejor mamá
My dad is a great businessmanMi papá es un gran empresario
She’s the most qualified teacherElla es la maestra mejor calificada


I need to buy a new bicycleNecesito comprar una bicicleta
I don’t like coffeeNo me gusta el café
The shoes over there are mineLos zapatos de allá son míos


I didn’t make it onto the trainNo alcancé a llegar al tren
Let me know when you’re on the busAvísame cuando estés en el autobús
I already looked for it all over the car, but I can’t find itYa lo busqué por todo el carro, pero no lo encuentro.


Where is the library?¿Dónde está la biblioteca?
The nearest bathrooms are thereLos baños más cercanos están ahí
I’m not at schoolNo estoy en la escuela

Date and time

Dinner is at seven p.m.La cena es a las siete de la noche
I get out of class at one p.m.Salgo de clase a la una de la tarde
Are we seeing each other on Friday?¿Nos vamos a ver el viernes?
I have dance class on FridaysLos viernes tengo clases de baile
Make notes carrying Spanish articles

Reflexive verbs

My head hurtsMe duele la cabeza
Did you hurt your arm?¿Te lastimaste el brazo?
I’m craving an iced teaSe me antoja un té helado
I like hot sauceMe gusta la salsa


I have a tremendous thirst.Tengo una sed tremenda.
I am so sleepy that I couldn’t get rid of it if I slept all day long.Tengo un sueño que ni con un día entero durmiendo se me quita.
I have a major stomach ache…Tengo un dolor de estómago…

Learning basic Spanish words can help you expand your Spanish vocabulary list. Try making notes that include every new Spanish word that you learn. It will also help you develop the correct pronunciation. The best way to learn Spanish is to practice as much as possible. Expose yourself to Spanish media. Getting in touch with relevant examples will enable you to understand the application of different language concepts.

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Frequently asked questions

In Spanish, how do I know when to use an article that is definite or indefinite?

When the person listening understands precisely which noun you refer to, you employ a definite article. This may occur if the noun in issue is evident or you have already discussed it in detail. You use an indefinite article when you haven’t previously discussed a noun or don’t wish to discuss a particular object.

How can I tell if a Spanish word is el or la?

Because Spanish is a gendered language, every noun has a specific grammatical gender. El is the definite article for masculine nouns, and la is the definite article for feminine nouns. Not the person’s noun, but the gender of the noun to which they are referring must be agreed upon in these articles. Therefore, you must first determine the gender of the word in question to determine whether to use el or la in Spanish.

In Spanish, is it el agua or la agua?

In Spanish, feminine nouns that start with an ‘a’ and start with the stressed syllable use the masculine article el. Since agua meets both criteria, you should say el agua in Spanish even if agua is a feminine noun. Note that this doesn’t happen for all feminine nouns that start with an ‘a’. For example, you still say la abeja (the bee) in Spanish. That’s because abeja doesn’t start with a stressed syllable.


Definite and indefinite articles are essential to Spanish grammar, providing crucial information about nouns such as gender and number. Understanding their usage and differences is key to mastering the language.

While definite articles specify particular nouns (el, la, los, las), indefinite articles are more general (un, una, unos, unas). Practice and exposure to the language are key to using articles correctly and fluently in Spanish. Book lessons with italki to get the best Spanish tutor online and kick-start the journey of becoming a fluent Spanish speaker.

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