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Table of contents Chapter 2 2.6 Indefinite articles

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Chapter 2: Articles and formation of plurals

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  2.6 Indefinite articles  

Beside the definite articles there are - as also in English - indefinite articles. In English there is (as also applies to the definite article) only one indefinite article a(n). Spanish has two because there is one needed for the feminine nouns and on for the masculine nouns.
Therefore there is una as indefinite article for feminine nouns and un for masculine ones.
Things get clearer when we play a mind game: A man who crosses the street is a friend of my mother. This sentence means that all men that cross the street are friends of my mother. And even if they had known my mother for 20 years they would not be friends unless they cross the street. In comparison: The man who crosses the street is a friend of my mother. This sentence seems quite clear. There is a man (one certain man) crossing the street, and exactly this man is befriend with my mother.
Actually there are no differences in the logic of using the indefinite articles between the Spanish and English. The only challenge here is to remember that for feminine nouns (the ones with the ending -a) get una. The others get un.

el vaso = the glass  
un vaso = a glass  

la vaca = the cow   
una vaca = a cow   

There are also plural forms of indefinite articles unas and unos. They are translated as some and also used the same way the little word some is used in English when meaning an indefinite quantity of something that can be counted. For substances that can not be counted (sand, milk or cream there is another word to be used in Spanish for meaning some. But we will get to this).

las paredes = the walls 
unas paredes = some walls 

los cuchillos = the knives 
unos cuchillos = some knives 

Let's have an overview on all the articles! Even though on first glance it seems a bit strange it's not that difficult as you will see:

  Definite article
  SINGULAR

la feminine
la casa
la luna
la alegría
house
moon
pleasure
el* masculine
el bolígrafo
el paisaje
el destino
pen
landscape
aim, destiny

  PLURAL

las feminine
las casas
las lunas
las alegrías
houses
moons
pleasures
los masculine
los bolígrafos
los paisajes
los regalos

pens
landscapes
gifts


  Indefinite article
  SINGULAR

una feminine
una casa
una luna
una alegría

a house
a moon
a pleasure

un masculine
un bolígrafo
un paisaje
un destino
a pen
a landscape
a faith

  PLURAL

unas   feminine
unas casas
unas lunas
unas alegrías
some houses
some moons
some pleasures
unos   masculine
unos bolígrafos
unos paisajes
unos regalos
some pens
some landscapes
some gifts

* Please note the article el should not be mixed with the pronoun él. The pronoun always has an accent.

  Example:

él = he

 
él trabaja = he works
el hombre = (the) man

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