The Definite and Indefinite Article in Spanish

example of definite article

The definite article in Spanish

In English is very easy, there is only one definite article "the" but in Spanish is a bit more complex, there are 4:

el masculine
el niñothe boy
la feminine
la niñathe girl
los masculine
los niñothe boys
las feminine
las niñasthe girls

El perro es marrón
The dog is brown

La mesa tiene 4 patas
The table has 4 legs

Los libros estan ordenados
The books are sorted

Contractions of the definite article

The preposition "a" and the article "el" are replaced with the form "al".

a + el = al


Vamos al cine
We go to the cinema

The preposition "de" and the article "el" are contracted in the form "del".

de + el = del


Venimos del cine (correct)
We come from the cinema


When the article is part of name (i.e businesses, places, or brand names), it can’t be combined with a preposition before it.


Venimos de "El Retiro"
We come of "El Retiro"

"El Retiro" is a park in Madrid (Spain). We can't say only "Retiro", because the full name is "El Retiro".

example of indefinite article

The indefinite article in Spanish

In Spanish as in English, the indefinite article is used in front of a non-specific item.

The indefinite articles are:

un masculine
un niñoa boy
una feminine
una niñaa girl
unos masculine
unos niñossome boys
unas feminine
unas niñassome girls


El mango es una fruta
Mango is a fruit

Él tiene unos pantalones grises
He has some gray trousers

NOTE: Some nouns use singular and plural forms, for singular form. For example, we can say "un pantalón" or "unos pantalones", and in both examples, we are referring to only one item. To indicate the plural we use "varios pantalones" or "algunos pantalones".

Omission of article in Spanish

In certain instances, the definite and indefinite article are omitted.

Omission of the definite article

The definite article is not used if it is referring to a single island. But it is used to refer to a group of islands.


Me gusta mucho Ibiza
I love Ibiza

Quiero ir a las (Islas) Canarias
I want to go to the Canary Islands

The definite article is not used, when speaking directly with someone and using the following:

Buenos días Óscar
Good morning Óscar

Don José, tiene usted hoy una reunión
Mr. José, you have a meeting today

Doctor Hernández, un paciente le esta esperando
Dr. Hernández, a patient is waiting for you

However the definite article is used when speaking with someone about another person if there is a honorific (title prefixing a person's name) like:

Señor Sir
Don Mister
Doctor Doctor


El Señor Rodriguez viene a comer hoy
Mr. Rodriguez comes to eat today

El presidente del Real Madrid está de vacaciones
The president of the Real Madrid is on holidays

El Doctor Hernández trabaja en este hospital
Dr. Hernández works in this hospital

Omission of the indefinite article

We don't use the indefinite article after the verbs "ser" or "hacerse" when the noun is any of the following:

  • a profession
  • a religion
  • a nationality
  • a political ideology


Soy profesora
I am a teacher

Él es estudiante
He is a student

However we use the indefinite article when the noun is a pofession or when the noun is preceded by a qualifying adjective.


Soy una profesora muy divertida
I am a very fun teacher

Él es un buen estudiante
He is a good student

Penélope Cruz es actriz
Penélope Cruz is an actress

¿Quién es Penélope Cruz? Es una actriz
Who is Penélope Cruz? She is an actress