Spanish Direct and Indirect Object Pronouns: Placement

In Spanish, there are several sets of personal pronouns which you need to learn.

Among them are these 3 sets, whose placement within the sentence we’ll study in this post:

 

Direct Object pronouns (“Complemento Directo”):

me, te, lo / la, nos, os, los / las

 

Indirect Object pronouns (“Complemento Indirecto”):

me, te, le, nos, os, les

 

Reflexive pronouns (“Reflexivo”):

me, te, se, nos, os, se

 

As we observe, the 3 groups are almost identical, except for the third persons singular and plural, with we have highlighted in black. In this post we will focus on the placement of these pronouns within the sentence. Where do we place these kinds of pronouns?

 

Placement

The key to place these pronouns is to watch the Tense of the Verb they are connected to.

Depending of its tense, the pronoun can take 2 different places:

  • Right before the verb, written separately
  • Attached at the end of the verb




Case 1: Right before the Verb, written separately

This is the most frequent case. It happens when the verb is conjugated for any tense except for Infinitive, Gerund and Positive Imperative.

Examples:

Me ducho. = I shower  (myself(present tense)

No los hemos visto. = We haven’t seen them (past tense)

Te lo** diré mañana. = I will tell it to you tomorrow. (future tense)

Les compraría un coche de juguete. = I would buy them a toy car(condicional tense)

No me insultes. = Don’t insult me (negative imperative tense)

** read the note at the end of this post!

 

Case 2: Attached at the end of the Verb

We attach these pronouns at the end of the Verb when that Verb is in Infinitive, Gerund or Positive Imperative.

Examples:

Levantarse temprano es importante. = Getting up early is important (infinitive)

Concentrándome, concentrándome = Concentrating myself, concentrating myself… (gerund)

melo** = Give it to me (positive imperative)

 

Mixed case, 2 Verbs combined: Either before the first or attached after the second

This case happens when we have 2 verbs combined as a “team”, with the second verb being in Infinitive or Gerund

In this case, you have the freedom to chose! Before the first verb, or attached at the end of the second verb.

Example:

Lo quiero hacer.   ///  Quiero hacerlo.  = I want to do it.

Both placements for the personal pronoun “lo” are equally valid.

More examples, same logic:

No te lo** puedo contar.    ///    No puedo contártelo** = I can’t tell it to you

María se está enfadando.   ///  María está enfadándose. = María is getting angry

Os queremos hacer un regalo.   ///  Queremos haceros un regalo. = We want to make you (plural) a present

La tenemos que arreglar.   ///  Tenemos que arreglarla. = we have to fix it (“it” being something feminine, like “la radio”)

 

** When we have both an Indirect Object and an Direct Object pronoun, we place them precisely in that order: first the Indirect, then Direct.

 

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