Difference between Él and El

When learning Spanish, homophones can quickly become a headache. By the way, and just in case you don’t know, a homophone is a word that is pronounced pretty much the same way as some other word but each one has a different meaning.

That is the case of “el” and “él”. Many people, especially native Spanish speakers, ignore the accent all along and use “el” on every occasion. Both being such short words and with only an accent as the difference between them, it doesn’t come as a surprise that people do it. However, it is important not to do so, and the reasons why, will soon be explained.

Cuadro comparativo

Él
El
Meaning “Él” with an accent is a personal pronoun. It is the third-person singular (masculine) pronoun in Spanish, which in English would translate as He. Must be always written with an accent. On the other hand, “el” without an accent is a definite article. In English there is only one definite article; the. “El” and “the”, are therefore equivalent. However, in Spanish there are other articles (la, los, las).

So, “el” is used in cases in which the noun we are going to talk about is singular masculine.

Part of speech/ word classes Personal pronoun Definite article
Examples
  • Él ha decidido que no la verá más.
  • Para él significaría mucho que vinieras.
  • Él es el mejor jugador de hockey actualmente.
  • El director lo recibirá en unos momentos. Él podrá despejar sus dudas.
  • Él es el elegido.
  • Ahora vuelvo, voy por el paquete a la oficina postal.
  • El perro del que estamos hablando es peligroso, ha atacado a tres personas en la última semana.
  • Se cree que el tesoro se encuentra en esa isla.