Use of definite articles: el & la and los & las

PatiC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Use of definite articles: el & la and los & las

16 July 2023

Dear Kwiziq Lesson Writing Team:

I am uncertain as to when I must (or should) use the definite articles "el/la" or "los/las" when translating from English to Spanish. See following examples from the "Fire Heroes/Héroes del fuego" exercise:

Example 1:

"...protect buildings and save lives in danger"

I wrote: "...proteger los edificios y salvar las vidas en peligro."

The Kwiziq answer was: "...proteger edificios y salvar vidas en peligro."

Example 2:

"These professionals protect forests and natural areas..."

I wrote: "Estos profesionales protegen los bosques y las áreas naturales..."

The Kwiziq answer was: "Estos profesionales protegen los bosques y las áreas naturales..."

As you can see, in neither of the English translations is a definite article included.

In Example 1, my use of "los" was accepted, but my use of "las" was not. Upon studying the final Kwiziq translation, I noticed that neither "los" nor "las" had been used in the translation of that phrase. Then in Example 2, I used "los" and "las". To my delight (and surprise) I saw that in the Kwiziq translation "los" and "las" were used as well. 

So --- I am confused and uncertain as to WHEN  (under what specific circumstances?) is it necessary, appropriate, or customary to use el/la and los/las. I know they must be used at the start of a sentence and (I believe) after some uses of gustar, but what about other circumstances?

Please upload lessons that offer specific examples (and explanations) about when to use these definite articles.  

Your attention to this request would be very greatly appreciated.


Regards,

Pati Ecuamiga




Asked 10 months ago
JohnC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Hola Pati, 

You are not the first person to bring up this issue. It comes up quite often because there is nothing in the course to address it, and it appears that there are no plans to deal with it. I find it as annoying now as when I started this course. In the past the teachers said that it is a very difficult topic to convey, and it is, but having experience of just how knowledgable they are, I’m surprised that they haven’t found a way. 

The subject is handled well in the grammar book “A New Reference Grammar of Modern Spanish” by Butt and Benjamin. Mine is a 3rd edition (ancient) but you can still buy early editions at a fraction of the price of the new edition. Go to Chapter 3: 3.1 to 3.2.30. It will certainly help. Like you I had mixed success with the definite articles - wouldn’t it be great if Kwiziq really got to grips with this issue. Saludos. John

JanetC1Kwiziq community member

Thanks John for your book recommendation. I have ordered a (old) copy!

Use of definite articles: el & la and los & las

16 July 2023

Dear Kwiziq Lesson Writing Team:

I am uncertain as to when I must (or should) use the definite articles "el/la" or "los/las" when translating from English to Spanish. See following examples from the "Fire Heroes/Héroes del fuego" exercise:

Example 1:

"...protect buildings and save lives in danger"

I wrote: "...proteger los edificios y salvar las vidas en peligro."

The Kwiziq answer was: "...proteger edificios y salvar vidas en peligro."

Example 2:

"These professionals protect forests and natural areas..."

I wrote: "Estos profesionales protegen los bosques y las áreas naturales..."

The Kwiziq answer was: "Estos profesionales protegen los bosques y las áreas naturales..."

As you can see, in neither of the English translations is a definite article included.

In Example 1, my use of "los" was accepted, but my use of "las" was not. Upon studying the final Kwiziq translation, I noticed that neither "los" nor "las" had been used in the translation of that phrase. Then in Example 2, I used "los" and "las". To my delight (and surprise) I saw that in the Kwiziq translation "los" and "las" were used as well. 

So --- I am confused and uncertain as to WHEN  (under what specific circumstances?) is it necessary, appropriate, or customary to use el/la and los/las. I know they must be used at the start of a sentence and (I believe) after some uses of gustar, but what about other circumstances?

Please upload lessons that offer specific examples (and explanations) about when to use these definite articles.  

Your attention to this request would be very greatly appreciated.


Regards,

Pati Ecuamiga




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