In this lesson, we would like to remind you of a very simple rule, which is nonetheless often forgotten even by native Spanish speakers. Let's start this lesson with a simple quiz. Which of the following sentences is incorrect?
Pero tenéis que entender que la mayoría de animales
But you have to understand that most animals
Captions 48-49, Amaya - Mis burras Lola y CanijaPlay Caption
"Cultivaremos la mayoría de los alimentos en los océanos".
"We'll grow most of [our] food in the oceans."
Caption 3, Escuela BCNLIP - Clase con Javi: el futuroPlay Caption
If you're not sure which sentence is incorrect, we invite you to read this lesson.
In expressions in which a part of a group is mentioned, it is appropriate to keep the article (el, la, los, or las) after the preposition de. Let's look at a couple of examples with different expressions:
La mitad de los artistas deberían estar presos
Half of the artists should be in jail
Caption 34, Calle 13 - Calma PuebloPlay Caption
está limitado a la mitad de personas que pueden entrar habitualmente.
is limited to half the people who can usually enter.
Caption 32, Sergio - Socorrismo y COVID-19Play Caption
In this sentence, the article is missing after the preposition de. Considering that, the following would be the appropriate way of saying this sentence:
está limitado a la mitad de las personas que pueden entrar habitualmente.
es uno de los principales problemas ambientales
is one of the main environmental problems
de la mayoría de los países del mundo,
of most countries in the world,
Captions 8-9, 3R - Campaña de reciclajePlay Caption
En la mayoría de casos, el burro es incautado por la policía de los animales
In most cases, the donkey is confiscated by the animal police
Caption 51, Santuario para burros - SantuarioPlay Caption
As you can see, in this sentence, the article is also missing after the preposition de. That said, the appropriate form would be the following:
En la mayoría de los casos, el burro es incautado por la policía de los animales
Can you now answer the question we posed at the beginning of this lesson?
While this mistake is not a dramatic one, we invite you to keep this rule in mind so you can construct these kinds of sentences properly. That's all for now. We hope you have enjoyed this brief reminder, and don't forget to send us your comments and suggestions. ¡Hasta la próxima!
Let's talk about gender. If you have been studying Spanish, you probably know that nouns in Spanish have a gender. For example, the word libro (book) is a masculine noun. On the contrary, the noun pelota (ball) is feminine. If you want to use those nouns with their corresponding definite articles, you will say el libro (the book) and la pelota (the ball). Now, what about the noun agua (water)? Is agua masculine or feminine? Do you say el agua or la agua?
Let's take a look at some clips:
Cuando uno tiene sed
When one is thirsty
Pero el agua no está cerca
But the water's not close by
Captions 17-18, Jarabe de Palo - AguaPlay Caption
Y como para completar la historia, desperdiciaban el agua todo el tiempo.
And, as if to make matters worse, they wasted water all the time.
Caption 15, Salvando el planeta Palabra - LlegadaPlay Caption
Y apenas sus pies tocaron el agua,
And as soon as their feet touched the water,
se convirtieron en dos grandes serpientes.
they turned into two big snakes.Play Caption
Can you now answer our question? According to the above clips, is agua masculine or feminine? In all the previous clips, the word agua is placed right after the masculine definite article "el" so the noun agua must be masculine, right? Not so fast! Let's take a look at the following clips:
Limonadas, refrescos o simplemente agua fresca.
Lemonades, sodas or just cold water.
Caption 42, Aprendiendo con Karen - Utensilios de cocinaPlay Caption
Las formas de presentación incluyen el agua ozonizada y el aceite ozonizado.
The formulations include ozonized water and ozonized oil.
Caption 35, Los médicos explican - Beneficios del ozonoPlay Caption
Un día, los vientos del páramo agitaron las aguas de la laguna.
One day, the winds from the tundra shook up the waters of the lake.Play Caption
Did you see that? If you look at the first two clips, you can see that the adjectives that go after the noun agua are feminine adjectives that end with the vowel "a" (fresca and ionizada). Also, in the third clip, you can see that the term aguas (plural form of agua) is preceded by the feminine definite article "las". So, is agua masculine or feminine?
The answer is very simple: the noun agua is always feminine. However, if you are wondering why we say "el agua" and not "la agua" there is a simple rule you need to keep in mind: If a feminine noun starts with a stressed "a", you need to use the masculine definite article "el". Let's see more feminine nouns that start with a stressed "a":
el águila (the eagle)
el alma (the soul)
Nevertheless, it is important to say that for plural feminine nouns, you need to use the plural feminine definitive article "las":
las aguas (the waters)
las águilas (the eagles)
las almas (the souls)
Finally, keep in mind that if the noun is feminine the adjective needs to be feminine too. For example, let's say that we want to say "the water is dirty." Since water is feminine in Spanish, you need to use the feminine version of the adjective (sucia):
RIGHT - El agua está sucia
WRONG - El agua está sucio
So, there you have it. We hope you learned something useful today and don't forget to send us your comments and suggestions.
¡Hasta la próxima!
Let’s talk about articles. In this lesson, we will review this basic but very important ingredient of the Spanish language. We'll begin this lesson by discussing what an article is, and then look at the two main groups of articles we have in Spanish.
An article is a word that we use in Spanish to specify the gender and number of a noun. Articles also tell us how specific a noun is and that’s why they can be definite or indefinite. Finally, we always put articles before a noun.
If that sounds too complicated, let’s see how the Cambridge Dictionary defines the word article: “Any of the English words "a," "an," and "the," or words in other languages that are used in a similar way as these.” With that being said, let’s take a look at definite and indefinite articles in Spanish.
Definite articles in English are easy. In fact, we only have one definite article: the. On the contrary, we have four different definite articles in Spanish: el, la, los, las. Let’s see them in action:
El niño (the boy) - We use ‘el’ to indicate that the noun is singular and masculine.
La niña (the girl) - We use ‘la’ to indicate that the noun is singular and feminine.
Los niños (the boys) - We use ‘los’ to indicate that the noun is plural and masculine.
Las niñas (the girls) - We use ‘las’ to indicate that the noun is plural and feminine.
Keep in mind, however, that if you are referring to a group where you have both male and female elements, we need to use the masculine article ‘los’. In fact, in those cases we need to use the plural form of the masculine noun:
A group of 4 male friends: los amigos (the friends)
A group of 4 female friends: las amigas (the friends)
A group of 2 male friends and 2 female friends: los amigos (the friends)
Hoy tengo clase con los alumnos principiantes de español.
Today I have class with the beginner Spanish students.
Caption 5, Español para principiantes - La horaPlay Caption
In the example above, we use the article los with the word alumnos (students) but the speaker is very likely referring to a group of both male and female students.
We also have the neuter definite article lo but if you want a further explanation about this very particular article, please check the lesson about this topic HERE.
In English, we have the indefinite articles “a” and “an.” On the other hand, we have four indefinite articles in Spanish that we use to specify the gender and number of the noun they precede. These articles are un, una, unos and unas:
Un perro (a dog) - We use ‘un’ to indicate that the noun is singular and masculine.
Una serpiente (a snake) - We use ‘una’ to indicate that the noun is singular and feminine.
Unos perros (some dogs) - We use ‘unos’ to indicate that the noun is plural and masculine.
Unas serpientes (some snakes) - We use ‘unas’ to indicate that the noun is plural and feminine.
Let’s look at a couple of sentences more with indefinite articles in Spanish:
Compré un regalo para unos amigos.
I bought a gift for some friends.Play Caption
In this sentence, we use the article unos with the noun amigos (friends). However, just as it happens with the definite article los, we use the indefinite article unos when referring to groups that may include both male and female elements. In this case, some friends could easily include both male and female friends.
¿Unas entradas para ver un musical?
Some tickets to see a musical?
Caption 35, Blanca y Mariona - Planificación de cenaPlay Caption
In this example, both nouns are indefinite so the girls use the corresponding indefinite articles. If the girls had known some specific information about the tickets and the musical, they would have used definite articles:
That's it for now. If you are aware of the gender and number variables that nouns have in Spanish, you will be on your way to using definite and indefinite articles in Spanish like a pro. We hope you find this lesson useful and don’t forget to send us your feedback and suggestions.
Articles are used before nouns to indicate a subject's number or gender. Sometimes, however, the use of an article before a noun is not required. This happens with both indefinite and definite articles, in Spanish, in English and in many other languages as well. In fact, generally speaking, articles are used the same way in Spanish and English. There are many cases in which the same rules apply for both languages. For example, you don't use definite articles before days of the week or months following the verb ser (to be):
Hoy es viernes. Son las siete de la tarde.
Today is Friday. It's seven in the evening.
Caption 4, Los Reporteros - Crecen los robos en tiendasPlay Caption
or following the preposition de (from):
Trabajo de lunes a sábado.
I work from Monday to Saturday.
Caption 28, Fonda Mi Lupita - EncargadoPlay Caption
It's not very common, and even unnecessary, but you could use indefinite articles in both cases. The meaning is slightly different and this happens both in Spanish and English:
Hoy es un miércoles / Hoy es miércoles.
Today is a Wednesday / Today is Wednesday.
Es la misma rutina de un lunes a un viernes / Es la misma rutina de lunes a viernes.
It's the same routine from a Monday to a Friday / It's the same routine from Monday to Friday.
However, there are a few cases in which we wouldn't use "a" or "an" in English, but we would in Spanish and vice versa. For example, in Spanish you can use a definite article before days and say Los lunes no trabajo (I don't work on Mondays) or Estoy esperando desde el lunes (I've been waiting since Monday). These you need to learn, so let's explore some examples.
In Spanish, you can drop indefinite articles when the noun is preceded by words like tal[es] (such), otro/a (other), and qué (what). Compare with the English translation in the following examples:
Qué lástima que no llegaste al partido; estuvo joya.
What a pity that you didn't come to the game; it was awesome.
Caption 36, Muñeca Brava - 33 El partidoPlay Caption
...de cierta manera... con ciertos defectos, ¿no?
...in a certain way... with certain defects, right?
Caption 35, Nortec Collective - Bostich+FussiblePlay Caption
In the previous example English drops the article when using the plural only, while Spanish drops it in both singular and plural. And yet, saying de una cierta manera in Spanish is also correct.
Spanish doesn't use definite articles before numerals that express titles of rulers:
El edificio data del siglo dieciocho,
The building dates from the eighteenth century,
en tiempos de Felipe Quinto.
during the time period of Philip the Fifth.
Caption 22, Madrid - Un recorrido por la capital de EspañaPlay Caption
In Spanish you usually drop definite and indefinite articles before nouns in apposition (when a noun explains another). But you don't necessary want to do it every single time. For example, in Spanish you can say Ankara, capital de Turquía, es una bella ciudad (Ankara, the capital of Turkey, is a beautiful city.) However, it's still correct to say Ankara, la capital del Turquía, es una bella ciudad. Obviously, in this case you can't use the definite article. You can't say Ankara, una capital de Turquía—that doesn't make sense either in Spanish or English since cities have, by definition, only one capital.
But check out this example: Juanita, una tía de Raquel, vino de visita (Juanita, one of Raquel's aunts, came to visit). Saying Juanita, tía de Raquel, vino de visita (Juanita, Raquel's aunt, came to visit) is also correct. And Juanita, la tía de Raquel, vino de visita is correct too. The translation in English is the same: Juanita, Raquel's aunt, came to visit. The only difference is that the definite article la (the) confers some sense of specificity to the expression. Maybe it means that Juanita is the only aunt Raquel has, or that she is particularly close or somehow special, she is not just any aunt but la tía (the aunt).
In Spanish you usually drop indefinite articles before unmodified nouns when stating nationality, profession, and religious or political affiliation. You can't always do the same in English. For example:
El Señor Chong es mexicano. Es burócrata. Es Secretario de Gobernación. Es católico. Es priísta.
Mr. Chong is Mexican. He is a bureaucrat. He is Secretary of State. He is a Catholic. He's an affiliate of the PRI party.
Here is another example from our catalog:
Y ¿tu marido es agricultor o algo?
And your husband is a farmer or something?
Caption 55, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesaPlay Caption
That doesn't mean that saying mi marido es un agricultor (my husband is a farmer) is wrong. It's just not the way you usually state professions. On the other hand, when the noun is modified (usually by an adjective or a subordinate clause), you have to use an article. For example, you must say: mi marido es el agricultor famoso (my husband is the famous farmer) or mi marido es un agricultor que se preocupa por el medio ambiente (my husband is a farmer who cares about the environment).
What is really incorrect is not using articles before the names of languages. When talking about languages, English usually drops the articles, but Spanish doesn't:
El español es un idioma muy bonito.
Spanish is a very nice language.Play Caption
There's an exception. You can drop the article when the language is used directly after a verb as its complement:
Como... como yo hablo árabe.
Since... since I speak Arabic.
Caption 8, Taimur - Taimur hablaPlay Caption
Finally, don't drop the article when telling the time in Spanish. You will always use the feminine definite article la or its plural las, since it refers to la hora (the hour) or las horas (the hours).
Salí a las siete y media... y voy llegando a la una.
I went out at seven thirty... and I'm arriving at one.
Captions 77-78, Calle 13 - La PerlaPlay Caption
The word lo can either be used as a neuter article, or as a pronoun. In this lesson we will focus on its use as an article.
Neuter articles are used to express abstract ideas or give extra emphasis to a certain adjective. As a neuter article, lo is the easiest of all the articles as there is only one form: lo. It can be placed in front of just about any adjective that expresses an abstraction or a quality (or extreme degree of quantity), something that's not a concrete object or person.
Here are some phrases that take lo before different types of adjectives:
lo bueno = "the good part, what's good"
lo fácil = "the easy part, what's easy"
lo mío = "(that which is) mine"
lo nuestro = "(that which is) ours"
Lo + adjective can be translated in English as "the" + adjective + the word "thing" or "part":
Y pues, es lo malo de vivir en un país así.
And well, it's the bad thing about living in a country like this.
Caption 68, Amigos D.F. - El secuestrarPlay Caption
Eso es lo bonito de la gastronomía.
That is the nice thing about gastronomy.
Caption 29, Cómetelo - Crema de brócoliPlay Caption
In fact, lo + adjective generates the syntactic equivalent of a noun phrase. That's why it's also common to translate it as "what is + adjective." In the previous examples, we would have:
Y pues, es lo malo de vivir en un país así / And well, it's what is bad about living in a country like this.
Eso es lo bonito de la gastronomía / That's what is nice about gastronomy.
The use of lo before a relative clause has a similar effect:
Hay gente que rectifica lo que dice
There are people who correct what they say
Caption 39, Calle 13 - No hay nadie como túPlay Caption
Lucio, tengo que contarte que por lo que me adelantó Morena...
Lucio, I have to tell you that from what Morena told me in advance...
Caption 57, Yago - 7 Encuentros - Part 14Play Caption
In fact, lo can often be taken to mean roughly la cosa or las cosas:
Hay gente que rectifica lo que dice. → There are people who correct what they say.
Hay gente que rectifica (las cosas) que dice. → There are people who correct (the things) they say.
...por lo que me adelantó Morena. → ...from what Morena told me.
...por (las cosas) que me adelantó Morena. → ...from (the things) that Morena told me.
By the way, lo can be used before a series of adjetives too:
Pero encontrar lo bueno, bonito y barato
But finding the good, [the] nice and [the] cheap
a veces es muy complicado.
is sometimes very complicated.
Captions 2-3, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricosPlay Caption
Of course, in order to help our subscribers with their learning process, we have made the translation here as parallel as possible. But you already know what would make a more natural translation, right?
→ But finding what's good, nice, and cheap is sometimes complicated.
→ But finding the good, nice, and cheap things is sometimes complicated.
There is yet one more use of lo as a neuter article and it's rather interesting. Lo is used to express the extreme degree or nature of a given concept or idea. Here it's best to review some examples:
¿Es que no eres todo lo feliz que desearías?
Is it that you are not as happy as you would like?
Caption 26, De consumidor a persona - Short FilmPlay Caption
Sometimes this lo equates to using the word “how”:
Si supieras lo mucho que te amo
If you knew how much I love you
Caption 15, Ozomatli - JardineroPlay Caption
Porque ves las gradas llenas, eh,
Because you see the packed bleachers, um,
la gente lo bien que se lo pasa con la música.
how much fun the people have with the music.
Captions 11-12, Los Juegos Olímpicos - Adrián GaviraPlay Caption
¿Pero cómo voy a perder mis maletas de vista
But how am I going to lose sight of my suitcases
con lo grandes que son?
with how big they are?
Captions 29-30, Raquel - Avisos de MegafoníaPlay Caption
Read more about the use of the neuter gender here.
Otro is a simple word in Spanish that looks and sounds like its English equivalent, "other" or "another." But with this ease of recognition and use, many non-native speakers misuse otro by adding an article where it doesn't belong.
Here's a tricky question. How do you say "another" in Spanish — as in, "I'll have another (beer)"?
Answer: "Tomaré otra (cerveza)."
Note that it's NOT: una otra or un otro. That's wrong. It would be like saying "an another" in English.
In an episode of the documentary series 75 minutos, we find the following clip:
Yo tengo lo que me pertenece a la de... de la custodia: un fin de semana sí y otro no.
I have what belongs to me to the... from the custody: one weekend yes and the other, no.
Captions 13-14, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 17Play Caption
Note once again that otro in Spanish doesn't require the article that "other" does in English.
The time to use a definite article before otro is when we need to distinguish between "another" and "the other" if, indeed, the distinction needs to be made:
Otro día = "Another day"
El otro día = "The other day"
So, if you add an article before otro(a), make sure it's a definite article (el or la) and not an indefinite one (un or una):
¡Hola! -La otra socia. -Sí. -La otra.
Hello! -The other partner. -Yes. -The other one.
Caption 16, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 8Play Caption
And finally, don't forget about otra vez, a very useful expression that you can use when you want to say 'another time' or 'once again.'
That's it for today. Did you like this little reminder? Please send us your comments, questions, and suggestions.