Unit 3.1

Indefinite Articles

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Introduction

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

Indefinite articles are used to refer to something general that is unknown to the speaker.

Form

Indefinite articles must be used after the verb form hay.

The articles un and el are used before the stressed vowel -a, i.e. when the stress is on the vowel a (un/el aula ⇒ unas/las aulas).

Example

  • ¿Hay una tienda de decoración por aquí cerca?
  • Un águila sobrevolaba una montaña en un póster de la agencia de viajes;
  • Querían unas manzanas amarillas, pero en esa frutería les dieron unas verdes;
  • Unos clientes se quejaron al dependiente;
  • Tienes un alma oscura desde que vives en ese palacio;
  • Había unas pinturas antiguas expuestas en la catedral.

Use

The indefinite article has anaphoric use, i.e. it relates the noun it accompanies to an element appearing before it (in speech).

The presence and absence of indefinite articles depend on other words.

The indefinite article is used to:

  • indicate indefinite value; when it is impossible to tell the whole class of objects;
  • indicate approximative value;
  • indicate noun value, i.e. the ability to make a noun out of an adjective;
  • to classify (in the function of categorising attribute);
  • express inalienable possession;
  • express identity of meaning;
  • to describe association, set of persons, things, etc.

The indefinite article is not used:

  • with nouns designating single entities;
  • with names of profession, function, class, nationality or belief without an article.

Summary

Articles are words that accompany a noun. In Spanish, they are divided into definite and indefinite. Indefinites are used to refer to something general, not known.

For example:
— «Hay una farmacia por aquí?» = With the verbal form hay;
— «Todos los chicos está en la otra sala». = With numeral 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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