How To Use Direct and Indirect Object Pronouns in Spanish
Direct vs. Indirect Objects
Direct object pronounsare those pronouns that represent thenounsdirectlyacted uponby the verb.Indirect object pronounsstand for the noun that is therecipientof the verb's action. In both English and Spanish, a verb may have no object (e.g., "I live,"vivo), a direct object only (e.g., "I killed the fly,"maté la mosca), or both direct and indirect objects (e.g., "I gave her the ring,"le di el anillo,whereleor "her" is the indirect object andanilloor "ring" the direct object). The construction of an indirect object without a direct object isn't used in English, but it can be done in Spanish (e.g.,le es difícil, "it is difficult for him," whereleis the indirect object).
Another way of looking at indirect objects in Spanish is that they could be replaced by "a+prepositional pronoun" or sometimes "para+ prepositional pronoun." In the example sentence, we could saydi el anillo a ellaand mean the same thing (just as we could say in English, "I gave the ring to her"). In Spanish, unlike English, a noun can't be an indirect object; it must be used as the object of a preposition. For example, we could say "I gave Sally the ring" in English, while "Sally" is the indirect object, but in Spanish the prepositionais needed,le di el anillo a Sally. As in this example, it is common, although not strictly required, to include both the pronounleand the named indirect object.
In English, we use the same pronouns for both direct and indirect objects. In Spanish, both types of object pronouns are the same except in the third person. The third-person singular direct object pronouns arelo(masculine) andla(feminine), while in the plural, they arelosandlas. But theindirect object pronounsareleandlesin the singular and the plural, respectively. No distinction is made according to gender.
The other object pronouns in Spanish areme(first-person singular),te(second-person familiar singular),nos(first-person plural), andos(second-person familiar plural).
Following in chart form are the object pronouns in Spanish. The direct objects are shown in the second and third columns, the indirect objects in the fourth and fifth columns.
Ella me ve(she sees me).
Ella me dio el dinero(she gave me the money).
Ella te ve.
Ella te dio el dinero.
him, her, it, you (formal)
Ella lo/la ve.
Ella le dio el dinero.
Ella nos ve.
Ella nos dio el dinero.
you (familiar plural)
Ella os ve.
Ella os dio el dinero.
them, you (plural formal)
Ella los/las ve.
Ella les dio el dinero.
More About Using Object Pronouns
Here are some other details of using these pronouns:
In some parts of Spain,leandlesare used as direct-object pronouns to to refer to masculine human beings instead ofloandlos, respectively. You're not likely to run into this usage, known asel leísmo, in Latin America.
Attaching Object Pronouns
Object pronouns can be attached after infinitives (the unconjugated form of the verb that ends in-ar,-eror-ir), gerunds (the form of the verb that ends in-andoor-endo, generally equivalent to the "-ing" ending in English), and the affirmative imperative.
Quiero abrirla.(I want to open it.)
No estoy abriéndola.(I am not opening it.)
Note that where the pronunciation requires it, awritten accentneeds to be added to the verb.
Placing Object Pronouns Before Verbs
Object pronouns are always placed before verb forms except those listed above.
Quiero que la abras.(I want you to open it.)
No la abro.(I am not opening it.)
No la abras,(Don't open it.)
To avoid alliteration, whenleorlesas an indirect-object pronoun precedes the direct-object pronounlo,los,laorlas,seis used instead ofleorles.
Quiero dárselo.(I want to give it to him/her/you/.)
Se lo daré.(I will give it to him/her/you.)
Order of Object Pronouns
When both direct-object and indirect-object pronouns are objects of the same verb, the indirect object comes before the direct object.
Me lo dará.(He will give it to me.)
Quiero dártelo.(I want to give it to you.)
These simple sentences demonstrate the distinctions among the pronouns.
Compro el regalo.(I am buying the gift.Regalois a direct object.)
Lo compro.(I am buying it.Lois a direct object.)
Voy a comprarlo.(I will buy it. The direct object lo is attached to the infinitive.)
Estoy comprándolo.(I am buying it. The direct object is attached to the gerund. Note the accent mark to keep the stress on the second syllable of the verb.)
Te compro el regalo.(I am buying you the gift.Teis an indirect project.)
Le compro el regalo.(I am buying him the gift, or I am buying her the gift.Leis the indirect object; the indirect object pronouns are same for males and females.)
Se lo compro.(I am buying it for him, or I am buying it for her.Sehere substitutes forle.)
Verbs act on direct objects, while indirect objects are recipients of the verb's action.
Although there are regional variations in usage, the standard direct and indirect objects in Spanish are the same in the first and second person, while the indirect objects areleandlesin the third person.
Object pronouns come before verbs, although they can be attached to infinitives, gerunds, and affirmative commands.