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Quick answer
"Un" is an indefinite article which is often translated as "a", and "el" is a definite article which is often translated as "the". Learn more about the difference between "un" and "el" below.
un(
oon
)
An indefinite article is a word that indicates that a noun is not specific (e.g. a girl).
1. (singular)
a. a
Había un coche estacionado en la puerta.There was a car parked at the gate.
b. an (before vowel sound)
Tienen una vieja cámara que todavía funciona.They have an old camera which is still working.
2. (plural)
a. some
Compré unos libros muy interesantes.I bought some very interesting books.
Conseguí unas manzanas deliciosas en el mercado.I got some delicious apples at the market.
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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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