Articles, in Spanish, can be definite or indefinite.
DEFINITE articles identify a known object that can, therefore, be identified.
-Masculine singular: ‘El’
El gato (the cat)
El libro (the book)
-Masculine plural: ‘Los’
Los gatos (the cats)
Los libros (the books)
-Feminine singular: ‘La’
La gata (the female cat)
La silla (the chair)
-Feminine plural: ‘Las’
Las gatas (the female cats)
Las sillas (the chairs)
If the noun is feminine and starts with an ‘a’ or tonic ‘ha’, you use the definite article or the masculin singular indefinite article.
El agua (the water), el águila (the eagle), el alma (the soul), el hada (the fairy), el hambre (the hunger).
When you have the prepositions ‘a’ or ‘de’ plus the masculin singular definite article, these two merge forming the articles ‘al’ and ‘del’.
A + EL : AL – Voy al banco (I go to the bank)
DE + EL : DEL – Vengo del trabajo (I come from work)
With proper nouns, the article and the preposition remain separate.
Viajaré a el Salvador. (I will go to el Salvador)
Vengo de el Cairo. (I come from el Cairo)
INDEFINITE articles refer to an unknown object that cannot be identified.
-Masculine singular: ‘Un’
Un gato (a cat)
Un libro (a book)
-Masculine plural: ‘Unos’
Unos gatos (some cats)
Unos libros (some books)
-Feminine singular: ‘Una’
Una gata (a female cat)
Una silla (a chair)
-Feminine plural: ‘Unas’
Unas sillas (some chairs)
Unas gatas (some female cats)
How do you know when to use the definite or the indefinite article?
-you use the DEFINITE ARTICLE when: you refer to a known and identifiable object.
Este es el libro de Juan. (this is Juan’s book).
when: you are refering to something specific.
La hermana de Luisa es enfermera. (Luisa’s sister is a nurse).
when: you use the definite article to refer generally to an object.
Me encanta el té verde. (I love green tea).
-you use the INDEFINITE ARTICLE when: you refer to an unknown object that cannot be identified.
Me compré un libro en la tienda. (I bought a book in the shop).