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Quick answer
"Ellos" is a pronoun which is often translated as "they", and "el" is a definite article which is often translated as "the". Learn more about the difference between "ellos" and "el" below.
ellos(
eh
-
yohs
)
A pronoun is a word that stands in for a noun (e.g. she).
1. (third person plural)
a. they (subject)
¿Ellos van a venir a cenar?Are they coming to dinner?
b. them (after prepositions)
Si confías en ellos, dales las llaves.If you trust them, give them the keys.
c. them (in comparisons)
Mi hermano y yo somos tan altos como ellos.My brother and I are as tall as them.
d. theirs (after "de" to show possession)
Esta ropa es de ellos.These clothes are theirs.
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el(
ehl
)
A definite article is a word that identifies a noun as as specific or known to the speaker (e.g. the girl).
1. (general)
a. the
El gato está en el tejado.The cat is on the roof.
El teléfono estaba encima de la mesa.The telephone was on top of the table.
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