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Grammar - Using the Spanish Definite Article - 'The'

This Spanish Easy Review grammar quiz will challenge you on using the Spanish definite article - the. In English there is only one definite article. That article is the word 'the' which is also classified as an adjective. Why an adjective? Because it helps to describe or define another word. For example, let’s look at the word 'book'. What kind of a book? A blue book or a big book or a new book. The words blue, big and new are all adjectives as they describe the book. Now let’s ask the question: Which book? The book on the table. The definite article 'the' is describing what kind of a book.

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It is the book. Even the table is using the definite article to describe something, i.e., table. This definite article is used more than any other word is used in English.

Spanish also has a definite article. However, in Spanish, because words are gender specific words, i.e., masculine, feminine or neutral (or non-gender specific), there are four definite articles. Why? Because Spanish has articles for each gender and for singular words and plural words. In English we would say 'the book' or 'the books'. The definite article remains the same whether the noun (subject or object) is singular or plural. Spanish is different in that 'the book' in Spanish would be 'el libro' and 'the books' would be 'los libros'.

Therefore, the four definite articles for the word 'the' in Spanish are as follows.

Singular

El - before a masculine noun singular. Example: el chico (the boy)
La - before a feminine noun singular. Example: la chica (the girl)

Plural

Los - before a masculine noun plural. Example: los chicos (the boys)
Las - before a feminine noun plural. Example: las chicas (the girls)

Notice that the singular masculine form of the definite article the is el. Do not confuse this with él as él means he. That little, tiny accent mark shows how it alone can completely change a word. If you were to write él chico you would be saying he boy. That is definitely not correct. Now you could say, él es un chico which means he is a boy but that is for another quiz. For now, please pay close attention to the importance of the accent mark.

Now onto the quiz. The quiz contains ten sentences with a definite article capitalized. From the answers given below each sentence, determine which answer is the correct answer that reflects the proper use of the definite article. You will have to be familiar with whether the subject/object is masculine or feminine to find the correct answer.

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  1. The teacher lined up all of THE desks into even rows.
    Did you remember the Spanish word for desk? It is escritorio which is a masculine word. Since it is a masculine word you can quickly eliminate the second and last answers. The sentence says 'the desks' which means desk is plural. The first answer is singular for 'the' while the third answer is the masculine plural for 'the'. The third answer is the correct definite article.
  2. She put a tattoo on THE nose of the statute.
    Did you remember the Spanish word for nose? It is nariz which is a feminine word. Since it is a feminine word you can quickly eliminate the first and third answers. The sentence says the nose which means nose is singular. The last answer is plural for 'the' while the second answer is the feminine singular for 'the'.
  3. The artist was exceptionally good at sketching THE hands of people.
    Did you remember the Spanish word for hand? It is mano. One of the important things to have remembered about this word is that even though it ends in an 'o' it is a feminine word. That means the first and third answers would not be correct. Since you have hands which is plural, you can also eliminate the second answer. The hands in Spanish would be las manos making the last answer the correct definite article.
  4. Why did THE chicken try to cross the road?
    Did you remember the Spanish word for chicken? It is pollo and it is a masculine word which means the second and last answers can be eliminated. Since there is only one chicken, you can also eliminate the third answer because it is a plural definite article. That leaves the first answer which shows the correct definite article needed here.
  5. Bernie looked all over the house for THE candy.
    Did you remember the Spanish word for candy? It is dulce and it is a masculine word which means the second and last answers can quickly be eliminated. As candy is being used in the general, singular form, you can also eliminate the third answer because it is a plural definite article. That leaves the first answer which shows the correct definite article needed here.
  6. Stanley was responsible for picking up THE hats for the team.
    Did you remember the Spanish word for hat? It is sombrero which is a masculine word. Since it is a masculine word you can quickly eliminate the second and last answers. The sentence says the hats which means hat is plural. The first answer is singular for 'the' while the third answer is the masculine plural for 'the'.
  7. You would have been shocked to hear THE mouths on those girls.
    Did you remember the Spanish word for mouth? It is boca which is a feminine word. Since it is a feminine word you can quickly eliminate the first and third answers. The sentence says the mouths which means mouth is plural. The second answer is singular for 'the' while the last answer is the feminine plural for 'the'.
  8. My mother insisted on getting THE pillow that was displayed in the window.
    Did you remember the Spanish word for pillow? It is almohada which is a feminine word. Since it is a feminine word you can quickly eliminate the first and third answers. The sentence says the pillow which means pillow is singular. The last answer is plural for 'the' while the second answer is the feminine singular for 'the'.
  9. Zachery could not find THE donut his grandmother left for him.
    Did you remember the Spanish word for donut? It is buñuelo and it is a masculine word which means the second and last answers can quickly be eliminated. As there appears to only be one donut, you can also eliminate the third answer because it is a plural definite article. That leaves the first answer which shows the correct definite article needed here.
  10. THE refrigerators at the back of the store were all on sale!
    Did you remember the Spanish word for refrigerator? It is refrigerador which is a masculine word. Since it is a masculine word you can quickly eliminate the second and last answers. The sentence says the refrigerators which means refrigerator is plural. The first answer is singular for 'the' while the third answer is the masculine plural for 'the'.

Author: Christine G. Broome

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