Placement of Spanish Reflexive, Direct and Indirect Object Pronouns

In Spanish, there are 3 sets of personal pronouns whose Placement inside the sentence works similarly. These Personal Pronouns are:

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 can see, the 3 sets are almost identical in their forms, except for the 3rd persons singular and plural, which we have highlighted in black.

In this lesson, we will learn where to place these pronouns in the sentence.




Placement

In order to place these pronouns, we need to consider the tense of the verb they are connected to.

Depending of the verb tense, these pronouns can occupy 2 different places:

  1. Right before the verb, written separately
  2. Attached at the end of the verb


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, Gerundio and Affirmative Imperative Commands.

Examples:

Me ducho. = I shower (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 command)


2 – Attached at the end of the Verb

We attach these pronouns at the end of the Verb when that Verb is in Infinitive, Gerundio or Affirmative Imperative Commands.

Examples:

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

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

melo** = Give it to me (affirmative imperative command)


Special case, two Verbs combined: Either before the first or attached after the second

In the case where there are 2 verbs combined as a «team», with the second verb’s form being Infinitive or Gerundio, we have the freedom to choose. 

We can either place them before the first verb, or attached at the end of the second one.

Examples:

Both these sentences mean «I want to do it«:

  • Lo quiero hacer.
  • Quiero hacerlo.

Both these sentences mean: «I can’t tell it to you«:

  • No te lo** puedo contar.
  • No puedo contártelo**

Both these sentences mean «María is getting angry»:

  • María se está enfadando.
  • María está enfadándose.

Both these sentences mean «We want to make you guys a present»:

  • Os queremos hacer un regalo.
  • Queremos haceros un regalo. 

Both these sentences mean «we have to fix it«:

  • La tenemos que arreglar.
  • Tenemos que arreglarla.

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