The article is a word that modifies the noun directly, and determines its quantity, at least we expect that the speaker knows exactly how many objects is he talking about when the article used is a definite one.
So the article makes the noun a concrete word with a place in space and time, it says to us that the noun it precedes is known or unknown by the speaker.
It is a known one if the article is a definite article, and it is an unknown one if the article is an indefinite article
In English there is one and only one definite article, which has neither a gender nor a number, but instead takes the gender and number of the noun that proceeds:
The boy, the girl, the boys, the girls.
In Spanish we have one article for each gender and for each number, including a neutral gender, as follows:
El: Definite article, masculine gender, singular number.
La: Definite, feminine, singular article.
Lo: Definite, neutral, singular article.
Los: Definite, masculine, plural article.
Las: Definite, feminine, plural article.
So, in Spanish the gender and number of the articles (and adjectives, and pronouns and all parts of the sentence) must be in correspondence with the gender and number of the nouns which they refer to.
It is wrong to say something like:
“El luna brilla esta noche”
Or if we say:
“La caballos trotan en el llanos”
The correct forms f these sentences are:
“La luna brilla esta noche” = The moon shines tonight.
“Los caballos trotan en los llanos” = The horses trot on the plains.
Finally I want you to take note that the article el must never be accentuated, because the word él with an accent is not an article anymore, but it becomes a pronoun.
To clarify this concept let us see an example:
Para él, todo estaba perdido = To him, everything was lost.
El libro azul no es mío, sino de él = The blue book is not mine, but his.
Él corre todas las mañanas a la escuela = He runs everyday to school.
So; it is clear that él is a pronoun that is traslated as He (when accompanied by the preposition de is translated as his; de él = his)
In Spanish, as you can see, accents are very important, because they can be the only difference between a word and another one, for example esta is a demonstrative adjective or pronoun while está is a verb.
We will see more of these cases trough these articles.
In English, the indefinite articles are a and an for the singular, and its use depends on whether the word they modify begins with vowel or consonant.
In the plural English speakers use adverbs to take the indefinite article function, as in some and any.
But in Spanish there are the following indefinite articles:
Un; uno: Indefinite, masculine, singular article.
Una: Indefinite, feminine, singular article.
Unos: Indefinite, masculine, plural article.
Unas: Indefinite, feminine, plural article.
So, in Spanish a boy is translated as un niño, a girl is translatedas una niña, some boys or any boys takes the form unos niños, and some girls, any girls becomes unas niñas.
Be aware that uno not only is translated as a or an, but also as the number one.
That is because the numbers in Spanish -from one to nine- are:
1: uno, one 4: cuatro, four 7: siete; seven
2: dos, two. 5: cinco; five 8: ocho; eight
3: tres, three 6: seis; six 9: nueve; nine.
In conclusion, articles in Spanish have their own gender and number, as well as adjectives and nouns (as we will see in the next articles of this work), and there must be a perfect correspondence among gender and number of these kinds of words.