Hello my native language is spanish and in spanish we use 'the' a lot of times, and sometimes when I translate something from English I see that 'the' is not necessary or is wrong.

For example

  • Do you like flowers? instead of Do you like the flowers? (Spanish literal translateion)

  • Do you like american footbal? instad of Do you like the american footbal? (Spanish literal translation)

What is the rule for put 'the'? and is really wrong put 'the word'?



The Spanish use of definite article for abstract nouns (la democracia), substances (el acero), plural-as-a-class (los belgas) is not used in English. Instead we have bare nouns (democracy, steel, Belgians).

We do use it for a singular-as-a-class (el tigre), but usually only for species of animals and plants: "the tiger is a big cat", "the rose is typical in England".

In your examples, if you are speaking generally, it has to be "Do you like flowers", and "Do you like American football".

If you are speaking of some particular flowers that are already identified (perhaps you are looking at them or you've just given them to someone), then it has to be "Do you like the flowers".

It's very hard to make a correct example for "the American football" because "American" is already definite. It would be rare, but correct, to say: "There is sport on the television. Do you want to watch the American football or the athletics?"


There are no hard and fast rules for when to use the definite article in English, but the best guidance is in the word "definite".

If there are specific flowers that you are liking, then you would say "I like the flowers", however you would say "I like flowers" if you just mean that you generally like flowers (not specific ones).

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.