How to say ‘To The’ in Spanish: A la or Al ?



In my last post I talked about VOY (I GO or I’M GOING).

In the examples I used there, I chose FEMININE nouns to accompany the verb IR (TO GO).

I did this deliberately because, over the years I have been teaching Spanish, I have seen that FEMININE nouns and adjectives tend to be mentioned as a aside, an add-on, and sometimes not even written out for students to learn effectively.


Voy A LA plaza (I’m going to the square)

I’m determined to change that, by introducing FEMININE forms in Spanish grammar first!

Australian (AUS) fans in green and gold cheering 2000 Sydney PG

Feminine nouns first!

Some examples from that post nouns considered FEMININE in Spanish grammar…



VOY ……A LA CLASE DE ESPAÑOL          I go to the Spanish class

VOY …. A LA PELUQUERÍA                       I go to the hairdresser’s

VOY …. A LA TIENDA                                 I’m going to the shop

VOY …. A LA CASA                                      I’m going to the house

VOY …. A LA ESTACIÓN                            I’m going to the station

VOY …. A LA PLAZA                                   I’m going to the square

A LA =TO THE (with FEMININE nouns)

However, there are lots of other places you need to talk about, which are considered MASCULINE in Spanish grammar…

 For MASCULINE nouns: EL = THE  

El trabajo The work

(El trabajo (Pronunciation: trabaHo, with strong emphasis on the H sound)

El colegio          The school

El bar               The bar

El mercado     The market

El pueblo         The town

El museo          The museum

In a sentence where you want to talk about going TO one of those places, things change slightly!  You might think you could say ‘A EL MERCADO’ for TO THE MARKET. 

But  in Spanish it just doesn’t work like that!

The two vowel sounds of ‘A’ and ‘E’ just don’t go together. They’re difficult to pronounce, so Spanish has just contracted them together to get rid of the problem. SIMPLE REALLY!

“A EL” doesn’t exist. “A EL” is contracted into ONE WORD, by dropping the E, and, HEY PRESTO… the A and L become = AL.

Very clever!


AL = TO THE  (with MASCULINE nouns)


Voy al trabajo en un tejado (I go to work …on a roof! Photo Credit

VOY  AL TRABAJO    I go to (the) work

VOY AL COLELGIO    I’m going to the school

VOY AL BAR            I’m going to the bar

VOY AL MERCADO  I go to the market



VOY AL PUEBLO    I’m going to the town

VOY AL MUSEO    I’m going to the museum

For a review of VOY and its different meanings, see my previous post VOY.


Repeat the sentences aloud. Get used to hearing yourself saying the differents words. It really does help fix the patterns in your mind.

See a previous post about the benefits of repetition in language learning

Make up several  sentences, relevant to your OWN life, using VOY and A LA or AL.


I really hope this helps. Let me know if it does.










Gender issues?

gendersignGender issues are very important. There is a growing  awareness of the debate on gender in society nowadays. This is all good.

Now I’d like to consider the vital importance of gender in language learning!

Especially in Spanish language learning.

Spanish is very concerned with gender. All nouns (the NAMES of things) have a given gender. This means that some THINGS are considered FEMININE  while others are considered MASCULINE. This may not seem important but depending on the ‘gender’ of each thing, there are certain patterns to follow.

In my experience over the years teaching Spanish, most textbooks and learning programmes present the MASCULINE form of nouns and pronouns first, and expect the FEMININE form to be understood by osmosis! Well I am revolutionising Spanish language learning here and now, by presenting the FEMININE  form first.

Girl power!

In the following, I’d like to begin showing first the FEMININE form of nouns and how to use the ‘indefinite article’ ( ‘a’ or ‘an’ as in ‘a table’ or ‘an orange’ = UNA [Pronunciation: OONA]  

Note: UNA also means ONE, as in the number one. 


Una amiga   A friend (who is a girl) / one friend

Una casa      A house / one house

Una flor        A flower / one flower  


ByLucy Roberts


Una falda      A skirt / one skirt

Una mesa      A table / one table

Una bolsa       A bag / one bag

Una nieta    A grand-daughter / one grand-daughter 


Some important words are a little tricky to pronounce without hearing them first.

Una hija   [pronunciation: EEHA]    A daughter / one daughter

Una botella   [pronunciation: BOTEYA]   A bottle / one bottle

Una manzana  [pronunciation: MANTHANA] An apple / one apple 


Try and memorise these few nouns with the indefinite article  (UNA) which goes with them. I am so excited because in my next post you will be able to start using them in important sentences!  

I really hope this helps. 

Please ask any questions if I haven’t been clear. 



Girl Talk


I’ve been teaching the beautiful Spanish language for many years and so I’ve used  many different types of textbooks and grammar aids. I’ve noticed they all have one thing in common and that is their consistent habit of presenting the MASCULINE form of nouns, verbs or adjectives FIRST and in FULL, with often only a cursory nod to the feminine form of said verb or adjective.


A perfect example of this is :

Friend = Amigo/a

Small = Pequeño/a

Which word would be more memorable to a new language learner, the ‘amigo’ or the ‘a’ ?

The feminine form (amiga, pequeña) is not even printed out in full, in many texts I’ve seen. Many new second-language learners will probably not even notice/understand that there should be another word written there!

Now, I am known in my circles to have a patient temperament, to be a humble, unassuming type of girl, but not anymore.

I’m extremely irritated by this ‘trend’ and it’s time it stopped! We live in an era where there is no doubt that equality of the sexes is an important issue and is to be striven for. Why has this not filtered into grammar yet?

If you have been able to read any of my previous posts, you must have noticed that I have been only addressing the feminine form of the adjective, in relation to the verbs  ‘SER’ and ‘ESTAR’: A bit of gossip?

It’s not that I have anything against the masculine form. The problem is that it is the PROMINENT form which is consistently taught first. Isn’t it  time to give the girls a chance?

So please forgive me that small but necessary rant on sex equality in grammar and let’s talk about this lovely Japanese lady. Any of the following sentences coud apply to her!


She’s tired              Está cansada

She’s angry             Está enfadada

She’s calm                Está tranquila

She’s married          Está casada

She’s   divorced        Está divorciada

She’s interested       Está interesada

She’s bored               Está aburrida

She’s busy               Está ocupada

She’s ill                      Está enferma

She’s smoking          Está fumando   

She has a nice little cocktail there so there is a possibility that 

She’s drunk              Está borracha


In my next post I will summarise the three forms of the verb SER and three forms of the verb ESTAR which we have seen so far, and the nouns and adjectives which are used with each verb.

I really hope this helps! Please ask about any clarification needed in comments.

More next time…