What do the following words have in common?:
the, a, an, some
They are all articles in English! You can see that they indicate whether the noun in the sentence is going to be singular or plural.
Articles in Spanish have one crucial difference – they show you the gender of the noun.
The Spanish equivalent of the
el: masculine, singular
la: feminine, singular
los: masculine, plural
las: feminine, plural
The Spanish equivalent of a, an or some
un: masculine, singular
una: feminine, singular
unos: masculine, plural
unas: feminine, plural
This is a little complicated and you would usually learn this once you reach an intermediate level. It has only one form – lo.
There are two occasions when you would use the neutral article:
- Use lo + anadjective to communicate an abstract idea or quality of something.
Lo bueno de Quetzaltenango es el clima. – The good thing about Quetzaltenango is the weather.
- Use lo + an adjective or adverb + que to emphasise that adjective or adverb
Ahora sé lo importante que es aprender Español – Now, I know it is important to learn Spanish.
Ways of knowing the gender of your article:
- When the noun ends in –o, -e, -n, -r, -s, -l the article is usually male BUT there can be exceptions such as la noche (the night), la sal (the salt), la mujer (the woman), la foto (the photo)
- When the noun ends in –a, -ma, -d, -z, -ión the article is usually female BUT there can be exceptions such as el problema (the problem), el día (the day), el sofá (the sofa), el arroz (the rice)
- The days of the week are always masculine.
- Countries do not have a gender apart from a few exceptions such as-
- La India(India), Los Estados Unidos (United States) El Salvador (El Salvador)
- Never use an article before a name unless the article is part of the name- El Salvador
- Some nouns use the feminine article for both genders;
- la persona (the person), la victima (the victim)
- You can change the gender of certain nouns without changing its significance;
- El estudiante (the student) – La estudiante (the student)
- El cantante (the singer) – La cantante (the singer)
- El turista (the tourist) – La turista (the tourist)
- If you change the gender of some nouns then the significance of that noun also changes:
- El papa (the pope) – La papa (potato)
- El guía (the guide) – La guía (guide book)
- El capital (money for business) – La capital (Capital city)
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