In English you say "I like cats" and "I like the cats" could be said only about some specific cats from the context of a discussion.

In Spanish it's "Me gustan los gatos" but these are cats in general. Another popular example is using "la gente" when talking about general trends in the society.

At the same time, it's similar to English in cases like "Soy músico, escribo canciones."

What is the rule here?

  • 2
    The same distinction exists in Spanish when things are the object of a verb: Adoro gatos is different from Adoro los gatos. However, in the case of me gustan los gatos, the role of los gatos is that of the subject, where a determiner is almost always needed, but English allows its omission there as well. Oct 17, 2018 at 3:04
  • Oh, thanks for the tip! I've searched about subject's determiners and found this question with a detailed answer to mine.
    – Ivan Mir
    Oct 17, 2018 at 14:05
  • For general statements in Spanish, you always have to use the definite article. If your question is about Spanish, why bring English into it? Spanish and English differ greatly here.
    – Lambie
    Oct 20, 2018 at 17:32
  • @Lambie I'm trying to understand it in relation to English rules, my native language doesn't have articles at all.
    – Ivan Mir
    Oct 21, 2018 at 17:54

2 Answers 2


I don't agree that the rule in Spanish is similar to that in English in the case of professions.

While in English we say:

  • I'm a musician

in Spanish we use zero article:

  • Soy músico.

P.S.: As regards the use of "canciones", the rule is that the zero article will be used to refer to an indefinite number of the plural noun. The definite article will be reserved for generic use or to refer to something specific, some specific songs in this case:

  • Escribo canciones. (I write songs.)
  • Las canciones tienen que estar bien escritas. (Songs -- any songs, songs in general -- need to be well written.)
  • Las canciones que escribí en mi juventud eran horribles. (The songs I wrote when I was young -- those in particular -- were awful.)
  • Sorry, I wasn't clear: it's about "escribo canciones" and not "los canciones" like in the case with cats. The part about being a musician is just a pretext.
    – Ivan Mir
    Oct 17, 2018 at 2:02

En el verbo “gustar” el sujeto gramatical representa una cosa o una persona pasiva, y el complemento indirecto es el verdadero sujeto lógico, que habla de sus emociones, ideas, intereses o preferencias.

El verbo concuerda con el sujeto gramatical. Si el sujeto gramatical es un sustantivo: como “gato/s”, hay que usar el artículo determinado concordando en género y número “el, los, la, las”.

Me gusta el gato: el gato concreto del que hablamos. Me gustan los gatos: los gatos en general.

Es incorrecto decir “me gustan gatos”.

El sujeto también puede ser un infinitivo, un pronombre personal o una proposición nominal o sustantiva. En esos casos no es correcto usar artículo:

Me gusta conducir. Me gustas tú. Me gusta que las cosas salgan bien.

En español es igual de correcto usar o no artículo al indicar que el sujeto ejerce una profesión en tercera persona: “él es médico” o “él es un médico”. En primera y Segunda persona se utiliza sin artículo: “soy médico”, aunque “soy un médico” podría utilizarse para dar énfasis.

  • I don't agree that "él es un médico" is a correct sentence in Spanish, that is, unless it is qualified: "él es un médico famoso".
    – Gustavson
    Oct 22, 2018 at 0:52

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