Articles in Spanish

(The Spanish articles as determiners of nouns)

Table of contents – articles

On this page you will find the following:

  1. Types of articles
  2. The unique article ‘lo’
  3. Further explanations and exercises

What kind of articles does Spanish have?

Like English, the Spanish language has articles (Spanish: artículos), that accompany and determine nouns. They always occur together with a noun and, thus, belong to its determiners. Likewise, Spanish grammar divides them into definite and indefinite articles, plus an additional article considered neutral. Compare:

Note: In Spanish, there are two grammatical genders. Consequently, a noun (and so its article) is either masculine or feminine. This rule excludes the special article ‘lo’, as explained below.

  • The following types of Spanish articles exist; they can be singular or plural. They appear with a noun but do not necessarily precede it directly:
    • Definite articles ‘el, la, los, las’; examples with nouns:
      • el coche (the car), los coches (the cars)
        • masculine articles
      • la taza (the cup), las tazas (the cups)
        • feminine articles
      • Example sentence: “¿Has usado ya el nuevo móvil?” (Have you used the new mobile phone yet?)
        • In this statement, you can also find the adjective ‘nuevo’ (new) between the article ‘el’ and the noun ‘móvil’ (mobile phone).
    • Indefinite articles ‘un, una, unos, unas’; and some examples that include nouns:
      • un coche (a car), unos coches (corresponds to: some cars)
        • masculine articles
      • una taza (a cup), unas tazas (corresponds to: some cups)
        • feminine articles
      • Example sentence: “El vuelo solo tarda unas tres horas.” (The flight takes only about three hours.)
        • Again, the article ‘unas’ is not directly before the noun ‘horas’ (hours) but before the numeral ‘tres’ (three).

The unique article ‘lo’

As a feature of Spanish, besides the definite and indefinite articles, there is the neutral article (lo). However, this is used differently and, thus, follows its own usage rules.

  • The word ‘lo’ is usually an article expressing something abstract. Compare the example sentences that show the different uses:
    • “Tener paciencia es lo más importante.” (To have patience is the most important thing.)
    • “Es impresionante ver lo que un poco de esfuerzo puede lograr.” (It is impressive to see what a little effort can accomplish.)

Further explanations referring to ‘Spanish articles’

The following explanations are related to the Spanish grammar topic ‘Articles as determiners of nouns’ and may also be interesting:

  • Using Spanish adjectives
  • Numbers/numerals in Spanish