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In Spanish sentences, I have seen that most times an article is used before the noun. But sometimes an article is not used.

I am referring to articles such as el,la,los,las,un,una,unos,unas (those are all the articles I know)

When do we need to use an article before a noun and when is it not necessary?

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Related: – Flimzy Jul 3 '13 at 19:25

3 Answers 3

You are right, most times an article is used before the noun with the exception of personal pronouns and a few more things.

"La chica"  "El país" are right
"La María" "El México" are definitely wrong, it even sounds wrong.
For personal pronouns you only use the proper noun. "Maria" "México"

When the noun is use in definitive/undefinitive sense:
    "Las mujeres vanidosas" (definitive)
    "Hay mujeres vanidosas y mujeres descuidadas" (undefinitive)

When you know something specific/inespecific):

    "Dame el papel" (you need an specific piece of paper)
    "Dame papel" (unspecific, any paper will work)

When you have a posessive:
    "Mi casa"

Here you can get MORE information.

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+1 but there are country names which have been historically used with an article (el Perú, la Argentina, el Brasil, el Líbano, la India, el Japón...), though nowadays it is less used. Also, there are places, at least here in Spain, where the article before people's names is quite common. There are even "rules" about it in some of those areas (e.g. all female names can have an article, but only male names starting with a vowel sound can) – MikMik Jul 5 '13 at 8:35
El before a place name seems to be in common use for football teams. e.g El Valencia, El Dénia. Probably shorthand for El club Valencia etc. – BrianA Jul 5 '13 at 17:06

One case where Spanish differs from English is in the case of abstractions, like love, justice,or liberty. These almost always require a definite article in Spanish: el amor, la justicia, y la libertad.

The use of an indefinite plural article (unos, unas) is often used where "some" might specify and indefinite quantity more than one in English.

There are lots more specific rules.

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I believe I have found the answer to this after going through several other lessons and some practice.

Looks like it was an easy one. But Spanish experts please correct me if I am wrong.

Seems like it's quite similar to English.

Quantifiable Nouns: If a noun is something quantifiable, then we use the article in front of the noun. Example: apples are quantifiable.

In English: It is similar to having 'a' or 'an' in front of a noun. We would say an apple. In Spanish: We use the appropriate article in front of the noun (based on gender and plurality). We would say una manzana.

Unquantifiable Nouns: If a noun is something unquantifiable, then we do not use the article in front of the noun. Example: milk is not quantifiable.

In English: It is similar to using the noun without a or an in front of it. We would say milk. In Spanish: An article will not be used before the noun. We would say leche.

I believe the exceptions would be:

  1. With countries as mentioned in the link shared by @Flimzy
  2. With abstractions as mentioned by @Walter Mitty

Let me know if there are other exceptions to this.

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We definitely say "la leche": la leche es blanca, la leche tiene calcio, me gusta la leche... I would say that almost always nouns go with an article. In fact, we often have problems knowing when not to use an article in English. – MikMik Jul 4 '13 at 7:23

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