Spanish Articles and Nouns
In addition to the web version, you can download the lesson as a PDF, found at the bottom of the page.
Spanish Articles and Nouns
If you’ve been following along the Beginner Series, you might have questions on Spanish grammar, like nouns, verbs, subjects and articles and how they interact.
The following is an overview that will help you begin to understand how sentences are constructed in Spanish.
Singular articles for singular nouns
In Spanish, nouns have gender. That is, they can be masculine (el) or feminine (la). Both el and la mean the in English.
The general rule is:
Masculine nouns usually end in –o and use the article el
Feminine nouns usually end in –a and use the article la
Above is the case for singular nouns, like boy, girl, car and house. But what if there’s more than one girl or more than one house?
Plural articles for plural nouns
Masculine plural nouns use the article los.
Feminine plural nouns use the article las.
Let’s change the table above into plural nouns:
Singular to plural change like this:
Masculine nouns change el to los
Feminine nouns change la to las
Then for both sets, add an –s to the end of the noun:
Example: el niño = the boy; los niños = the boys
Up to this point we’ve looked at definite articles—this just means they’re specific.
The next set of articles are called indefinite articles—they’re general and non-specific.
Compare these examples to understand the differences.
Definite article: The speaker wants a specific pen
¿Me puedes traer la pluma que está en la mesa?
Can you bring me the pen that is on the table?
Indefinite article: The speaker just wants any pen
¿Me puedes traer una pluma, por favor?
Can you bring me a pen, please?
Now that you know the difference, let’s move on to indefinite articles.
When singular, these are the words a and an in English.
Again, let’s make them plural.
some/a few boys
some/ a few cars
some/ a few cats
some/ a few girls
some/ a few houses
some/ a few cows
The set of rules from earlier, adjusted for indefinite articles for making them plural.
Masculine nouns change un to unos
Feminine nouns change una to unas
For both sets, add an –s to the end of the noun:
Example: una niña = a girl; unas niñas = some girls
Indefinite articles can be thought of as some, or a few:
Unas niñas juegan fútbol, mientras otras les gusta practicar tenis.
Some girls play soccer, while others like to practice tennis.
A few girls play soccer, while others…
That should take you from 0% to 95% in terms of:
- explanation of articles
- masculine vs feminine articles and nouns
- the difference between definite and indefinite articles
- how to change singular nouns to plural nouns
There are a few exceptions to making singular nouns plural. Think:
Box: boxes or dish: dishes
But there’s not a ton of them, so we’ll ignore them for now 😉