Indirect Object Pronouns («Pronombres de Complemento Indirecto») are a collection of pronouns which point to the person or thing to whom or for whom the action of the verb is done.
Here is the full list with the Indirect Object Pronouns in Spanish and their meaning in English:
te singular you
le him, her, it, formal singular you
os plural you
les them, formal plural you
Indirect Object Pronouns point to the thing or person to whom or for whom the action of the verb is done.
¿Me has mandado la carta? = Have you sent me the letter?
Sí, te he mandado la carta. = Yes, I have sent you the letter.
Le doy un beso = I give him/her a kiss.
Nuestra madre nos cuenta un cuento = Our mother tells us a story.
¿Qué os han dicho? = What have they said to you?
Les llevo bebidas = I bring drinks to them.
In all of the examples above, Indirect Object Pronouns go right before the verb. That is their most usual placement. However, there are tenses for which the Indirect Object Pronoun can be attached at the end of the verb. Click here to learn all about the Placement of Direct, Indirect and Reflexive pronouns.
Forms «le» and «les», even when the person is mentioned
Something very interesting occurs with the forms «le» and «les»:
Even when we mention explicitly a 3rd person to whom or for whom the action is made, we can still use the pronoun «le» or «les» on top of it. Not only we can, but it sounds more natural that way.
For example, take these two sentences in English:
- I tell her a story.
- I tell Maria a story.
In English, either we mention the person directly («María») or we replace «María» with the pronoun «her».
But in Spanish, for the 3rd persons, it sounds better to include «le» in the sentence even if we also mention the person directly:
I tell her a story. = Le cuento una historia.
I tell María a story. = Le cuento una historia a María
One more example:
We buy them a ball = Les compramos una pelota.
We buy the children a ball = Les compramos una pelota a los niños.
Verbs that often use Indirect Object Pronouns
Here are some verbs which tend to use Indirect Object Pronouns, because they refer to actions that are done to someone or for someone:
Comprar to buy (for someone)
Contar to tell (someone)
Dar to give (someone)
Mandar to send (to someone)
Mostrar to show (to someone)
Pedir to ask (of someone)
Prestar to lend (someone)
Quitar to take away (from someone)
Regalar to give a present (to someone)
Robar to steal (from someone)
Enseñar to teach / to show (someone)
Finally, Indirect Object Pronouns are used in sentences with verbs like “Gustar”. Click here to check out our post about “Gustar”.