Both definite and indefinite articles are very useful to talk about different topics in the language. Using articles correctly does make a big difference in a real conversation. Spanish indefinite articles are called LOS ARTICULOS INDEFINIDOS and they are the equivalent to AN, A and SOME in English. This lesson will show you several examples of how and when to use the 4 Spanish indefinite articles. Let’s start…
Introductory video: The 4 Spanish indefinite articles + animals
We will begin the lesson by watching a video with the vocabulary for animals in Spanish used along with the four Spanish indefinite articles. While watching this short vide, try to figure out the basic rules to use them by yourself and make sure to stick until the end of the video to learn some new vocabulary as well.
How to use Spanish indefinite articles in sentences
LOS ARTÍCULOS INDEFINIDOS or Spanish indefinite articles are related to the number and gender nouns, but they do not refer to one noun specifically. To put it differently, the definite article “EL” in “El perro azul” tells that we are talking about a specific “blue dog”, perhaps the only blue one in a group of dogs. On the other hand, if we said “Un perro azul” using one of the four Spanish indefinite articles, then it could be any “blue dog” from any place or group, not one in specific.
Let’s discuss another example. In the sentence “La cocina está sucia” (The kitchen is dirty), LA COCINA refers to an object previously known by both speakers. However, if we said “Una cocina está sucia”, then we would not clearly state which of all kitchens is dirty. Notice that we will use the article “UN” for masculine nouns like “PERRO”, and “UNA” for feminine nouns like “COCINA”. Here is a chart showing the four Spanish indefinite articles and how they should agree with the noun’s gender and number.
Sentences with Spanish indefinite articles
UNA (feminine/singular) – Tengo una computadora.
Translation: I have a computer
UNAS/ALGUNAS(feminine/plural) – Hay unas pastillas sobre la mesa
Translation: There are some pills on the table
UN (singular/masculine) – ¿Puedes prestarme un lápiz?
Translation: Can you lend me a pencil?
Unos/Algunos (masculine/plural) – Estos son algunos/unos de los libros que me prestaste.
Translation: These are some of the books you lent me
Language Note: Sometimes, it might be better to use the word ALGUNOS instead of the indefinite article UNOS, just like in the last example.
When to use the in Spanish indefinite articles UN, UNA, UNOS, UNAS
There are some thing we should consider when using these articles to refer to objects in real situations. Pay attention the these three points and then practice Spanish indefinite articles with an interactive quiz.
First, we do not need an indefinite article in negative sentences, e.g. to say “I do not have a computer”, you should say “No tengo computadora” and not “No tengo una computadora”.
Second, the article UNA changes to UN when used before a feminine noun that begins with the sound A, no matter if the word begins with H. An example of this exception would be “Un arma” (a weapon), “Un hacha” (an ax), “Un águila” (an eagle). Some sentences using these nouns are: “Hay un águila en el árbol” (there is an eagle on the tree) and “¿Me puedes prestar un hacha?” (Can you lend me an ax?).
Last, we must omit Spanish indefinite articles before nationalities, professions, religions and political affiliations. To illustrate this, saying “Soy ingeniero” is totally correct, but saying “Soy un ingeniero” is not.
Los artículos indefinidos: A quiz on Spanish indefinite articles
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