A1 Level. The indeterminate Articles in Spanish.

Updated: Mar 12


An indefinite article, called an artículo indefinido in Spanish, makes a noun refer to a nonspecific item or items of its class.


Imagine a box full of pens, with a blue, green, black and one red pen, so when we say “Give me the red pen” we are referring to a particular pen, while the sentence “Give me a pen” could refer to any pen. So that is the difference, definite articles are associated with specific or particular items while indefinite article like a and an may refer any items. Let's see this example:



In English, there are only two indefinite articles, "a" and "an." In Spanish, there are four indefinite articles, un, una, unos, and unas.


Agreement in Number or Gender Matters

There are two singular indefinite articles, un and una, translating to "a" or "an.". The indefinite article always has to match both the gender and number of its noun. For example, if a noun is masculine and singular (like libro), then its article also has to be masculine and singular (so, un libro). If the noun is femenine and singular (like silla), the article would also be feminine (so, una silla). The same happen with the plural form.


There are two plural forms of indefinite articles in Spanish, unos and unas, translating to "a few" or "some." Unos is masculine. Unas is feminine. In this case, the correct form to use depends on the gender of the word being described, for example,

Here are some examples of sentences with undefined articles in Spanish so you can see how they should match the other parts of the sentence.

Exceptions

When a feminine singular noun begins with a stressed á, a, or ha, the masculine indefinite article (un) is used instead of the feminine indefinite article (una) to aide in pronunciation.


When the same noun is plural, the feminine article is used.

Here is an example of feminine nouns that take the masculine indefinite article in the singular. As the table shows, they take the feminine plural article in the plural.


Singular Plural

un aula unas aulas


The omission of the indeterminate article

Finally, after the verb ser when talking about unmodified nationality, profession, trade or religions and political affiliations. To illustrate this, saying " “Soy profesor” " is totally correct, but saying " “Soy un profesor” " is not.


When the adjective or nominative predicate forms a part of the title of the profession or is an intrinsic characteristic, the indefinite article is omitted.


The use of the indefinite article in such cases carries a special emphasis.

  • Mi padre es un profesor de inglés. Entre muchos, mi padre se destaca.

  • Juan es un mal alumno. Es, probablemente, el peor de la clase.

  • María es una española. Ella representa lo español.

Let's practice

Listening Activity No 1. The indeterminate articles in Spanish


Quiz Activity No 2. Talking about what you need.

Interested in more information and grammar topics, at Español Latino, we’re always looking for ways to make your learning interesting and fun, so take advance to this free e-book "How to best learn Spanish". Click below in the image to download the e-book and start practicing today.

¡Hasta la vista!

The Español Latino Team.

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