Unit 3.1

Definite Articles

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Introduction

Articles are words that accompany a noun. They can be indefinite or definite.

Definite articles are used to refer to something concrete that the speaker knows.

Form

Definite articles are placed in the following positions:

  • always after universal quantifiers todo/-a/-os/-as;
  • sometimes with numerical quantifiers (Los dos chicos);
  • always with nouns expressing leisure activities (juego al fútbol);
  • always with a subject noun in constructions with verbs such as gustar, encantar, doler, interesar, apetecer… (Me encanta la paella).

Do not use:

  • never with modifiers of gradation: (la comida muy buena);
  • incompatibility with possessive structures and complements of measure, without a restrictive modifier:
    *Tiene el perro / Tiene el perro de Juan.

Example

  • Todos los monumentos eran de piedra;
  • Las dos estatuas se miraban mutuamente en silencio;
  • Solía jugar a la consola del centro comercial;
  • Me gusta el pollo que venden en esa carnicería;
  • Os duelen las muelas desde que fuisteis a la frutería;
  • El Noroeste es el lugar opuesto del Sudeste.

Use

The definite article is used with the following leading values or meanings:

  • anaphoric use, i.e. when speaking a second time about something already mentioned (e.g. El curso es interesante);
  • deictic use based on the extralinguistic situation (e.g. ¿Puedes cerrar la puerta, por favor?);
  • inalienable possession (e.g., Me duele la cabeza,, instead of: Duele mi cabeza);
  • generic value (e.g., Leo el periódico);
  • noun value, i.e. when a noun is omitted (e.g., Compra el nuevo).

Not used:

  • With gradational modifiers.

Summary

Articles are words that accompany a noun. In Spanish, they are divided into definite and indefinite. Definities are used to refer to something known to the speaker, something that can be identified.

For example:
— «¿Hay una farmacia por aquí?» = With the verb form hay;
— «Todos los chicos está en la otra sala». = With numerical quantifiers;
 «Me duele la pierna». = With the verb doler.

Check the contents of the {Form} section. Then move on to the {Example} section, which shows you the usage in context.

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