Thursday, July 15, 2010

Indefinite Articles and their Use

An indefinite article is an article, that, well, isn't defined. If you remember from some of your earliest grammar classes, an article accompanies a noun. In English, you'll be looked at weird if you muttered, "I have car." So, to avoid being ostracized, we are taught to attach an article to that noun "car". Now, the article has only a couple of static possibilities in the English language: 1)the indefinite articles "a", "an", and "some", and 2)the definite article "the".

By now, you should recognize that Spanish, being the Latin-based language it is, is heavily dependent on the gender and the quantity of a given noun. The indefinite articles are no different. There are 4 different possibilities of articles:

1. singular masculine - un

2. plural masculine - unos

3. singular feminine - una

4. plural feminine - unas

Notice the following examples, using each of the four indefinite articles:

Tengo un libro. I have a book.

¿Tú compraste una computadora? Did you buy a computer?

Hay unos museos en Londres. There are some museums in London.

Pido unas enchiladas, por favor. I'll order some enchiladas, please.

Notice how each of the indefinite articles fits nicely with the noun's gender and quantity: enchiladas is a plural feminine noun, thus it is combined with the plural feminine indefinite article. Many English speakers might question the perils of equivocating the indefinite article, but as natives, Spanish speakers are accustomed to hearing the language a certain way (as English speakers are to their mother tongue), so fudging something as basic as an article might cause confusion for the listener.

In certain cases, we omit the indefinite article. Notice the following examples:

Yo soy maestro de español. I am (a) Spanish teacher.

Miguel tiene cien dólares. Miguel has (a) hundred dollars.

¡Que tengas buen día! Have (a) good day!

This lesson gives you a pretty good understanding of the basic fundamentals of indefinite articles, and their placements. Keep in mind, one shouldn't just learn new vocabulary, but should also recall the gender of the noun when learning. Gender discrepancies will be revisited again in future lessons.

Sigue estudiando,

Professor Joel

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