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LEARN ENGLISH DEFINITE ARTICLES.

English Definite Articles are the words we use to define the nouns (specifically). In English we only have one definite article, we are talking about the word "the ". The English article will always precede the noun that it is determining.

Example

The dog. (El perro) (article + noun)

The white house on the green hill. (La casa blanca sobre la colina verde) (article + adjective + noun + preposition + article + adjective + noun)

Unlike Spanish, in English we do not distinguish between masculine and feminine, singular and plural forms in the articles and adjectives . So the English article "the" is the equivalent to the Spanish articles "EL, LA, LOS, LAS". This single form "the" is used with all kinds of nouns, singular, plural, countable and uncountable.

SOME GENERAL USES

We generally use the definite article to refer to a particular person or object. This means that both, the person who is talking and the person who is listening, know which person or object has been mentioned.

Example

The book you lent me is very interesting. (El libro que me prestaste es muy interesante)

The boy with the bicycle came this morning. (El niño con la bicicleta vino esta mañana)

We also use the definite article to speak about a person or object that has been mentioned previously.

Example

I bought a book last week but now I can't find the book. (Compré un libro la semana pasada pero ahora no puedo encontrar el libro)

In a similar case, we use the definite article when we speak about an object or person where it is impossible to get mistaken to which one we are referring.

Example

It is on the table. (Está sobre la mesa)

Close the door behind you, please. (Cierra la puerta detrás de tí, por favor)

It is also used to group objects or people by an adjective.

Example

The Irish are very polite. (Los irlandeses son muy educados)

To speak about public places, the use of the definite article is going to determine the meaning of the sentence, that is, if the definite article is present, our sentence is going to have a different meaning than that of the same sentence without the definite article.

Example

John is in hospital (in this case John is a patient) (John está en el hospital)

In Spanish we always use the definite article before the names of public places.

John is in the hospital (John está en el hospital)

In this example, John can be working there or visiting a patient, however he might not be a patient in the hospital.

SOME GENERAL OMISSIONS OF THE DEFINITE ARTICLE

We do not use the definite article before plural nouns when we speak about them in a general way.

Example

Cars are expensive. (Los coches son caros)

We mean that all the cars in the world are expensive and not a specific brand of cars. We never use a definite article before proper nouns, including the names of the streets.

Example

I see Mary every day. (Veo a Mary todos los días)

I see Mrs. Smith every day. (Veo a la señora Smith todos los días)

We walked down Oxford Street. (Bajamos la calle Oxford)

For dates, although they can be written without "the" in the spoken language it is used.

Example

9th March 2005 (9 de marzo de 2005) (in the spoken language we would say: the ninth of March 2005)

When talking about substances, materials or colours we do not use the definite article before the them.

Example

Red is a bright colour. (El rojo es un color vivo)

Steel is a very heavy metal. (El acero es un metal muy pesado)

When talking about the parts of the body and using the verb "to have" we also have to omit the definite article.

Example

That girl has blue eyes. (Esa niña tiene los ojos azules)


Learn English Indefinite Articles