27 September 2019

Spanish articles & demonstratives

For English speakers, it can be hard to wrap your head around words having a gender. In Spanish, every noun is assigned as either masculine or feminine and there are articles and demonstratives to go along with them. Find out what they are in this post.

Articulos y demonstrativos

What are articles and demonstratives?

  • They are words that go with nouns to help identify them.
  • They must always agree with the gender and number of the noun – plural or singular, feminine or masculine.

What is a definite article (artículo definido)?

We use a definite article when we are talking about something specific, something that we know or something that can be identified. This would translate to English as “the“. Because articles must agree with the noun in gender and number, there are 4 definite articles:

  • el – singular masculine
  • los – plural masculine
  • la – singular feminine
  • las – plural feminine

Examples

¿Me puedes pasar la chaqueta roja?
Can you pass me the red jacket? (we use a definite article because we know which jacket we are talking about)

El perro está ladrando.
The dog is barking. (we use a definite article because we know which dog is barking)

What is an indefinite article (artículo indefinido)?

We use Indefinite articles to talk about things in general or an object we don’t know or cannot identify. In English, they would translate to “a” or “an” in the singular form. These must also agree with the noun according to gender and number. They are:

  • un – singular masculine
  • una – singular feminine
  • unos – plural masculine
  • unas – plural feminine

Examples

Me quiero comprar una chaqueta nueva.
I want to by myself a new jacket. (we use an indefinite article because we are not sure which jacket we specifically want, just a new one)

Un perro está ladrando.
A dog is barking. (in this case, we know a dog is barking, but we don’t know which one)

What are demonstratives (demostrativos)?

Demonstratives indicate the distance between the person/subject and the noun being referred to. Think of these as: this, that, these, those. Demonstratives must also agree with the number and gender of the noun.

Depending on the distance, there are 3 types of demonstratives.

If the noun is close, we use:

  • este – this (singular masculine)
  • esta – this (singular feminine)
  • estos – these (plural masculine)
  • estas – these (plural feminine)

Example

Esta flor huele bien.
This flower smells good.

Me gustan estos colores.
I like these colours.

If the noun is at a medium distance, we use:

  • ese – that (singular masculine)
  • esa – that (singular feminine)
  • esos – those (plural masculine)
  • esas – those (plural feminine)

Example

Ese árbol es muy alto.
That tree is very tall.

If the noun is far away, we use:

  • aquel – that over there (singular masculine)
  • aquella – that over there (singular feminine)
  • aquellos – those over there (plural masculine)
  • aquellas – those over there (plural feminine)

Example

Aquellas montañas son hermosas.
Those mountains over there are beautiful.

Is the explanation clear? Let us know if you have any questions in the comments below. If you want to get started on something easy in Spanish, check out our blog post on regular verbs in the present tense. If you want to learn Spanish in the classroom, take a look at the classes we offer in the centre of Barcelona.