Welcome to our grammar lesson about Indirect Object Pronouns in Spanish, where we will practice these words after learning how to use them.
Indirect Object Pronouns (“Pronombres de Complemento Indirecto”) are a collection of pronouns that represent the person or thing indirectly receiving the action of the verb. In other words, to whom or for whom the action is done.
In this lesson we will learn everything about Spanish Indirect Object Pronouns: both the forms and where to place them in the sentence.
At the end you’ll find a Quiz and an Exercise for practice.
Here is the list of all Indirect Object Pronouns in Spanish and their meanings:
le him, her, it, formal "you"
os you guys
les them, formal "you guys"
As we notice, gender is irrelevant for all Indirect Object Pronouns.
Use of Indirect Object Pronouns
Indirect Object Pronouns represent the person or thing indirectly receiving the action of the verb.
In other, words, to whom or for whom the action 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 told you guys?
Les llevo bebidas.
I bring drinks to them.
Common verbs with Indirect Object Pronouns
Here are some verbs which tend to work well with Indirect Object Pronouns, because they express 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)
preguntar to ask (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)
The placement of Indirect Object Pronouns in the sentence depends on the verb tense.
- For most tenses, we place these pronouns before the verb:
Yo te cuento un chiste.
I tell you a joke. (present tense)
Ellos nos han comprado comida.
They have bought us food. (present perfect)
- But if the verb is in the Infinitive, Gerundio or an Affirmative Command, we attach the pronouns at the end of the verb:
¿Quieres mandarme la carta?
Do you want to send me the letter? (infinitive)
Antonio está explicándoles algo.
Antonio is explaining something to them. (gerundio)
Dale el juguete.
Give him/her the toy. (affirmative command)
We have a separate lesson to explain the placement in more detail. Check it out!:
Placing “le” or “les” even when we name a 3rd person explicitly
If we have a sentence where we explicitly name a 3rd person to whom or for whom the action is done, we can also include the pronoun le or les in the sentence at the same time.
Not only we can, but it sounds better that way.
This phenomenon doesn’t happen in English. For example, read these two sentences:
- 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, it sounds good to also include le or les in the sentence:
Yo le cuento una historia.
I tell her a story.
Yo le cuento una historia a María.
I tell María a story.
Nosotros les compramos una pelota.
We buy them a ball.
Nosotros les compramos una pelota a los niños.
We buy the children a ball.
Special case where “le” or “les” become “se”
Both le and les become se if they are placed right before one of these Direct Object Pronouns: lo, la, los, las
This transformation makes sense because, for example, “
le lo” would sound ugly. “Se lo” sounds much better.
Se las he mandado.
I have sent them to him/her/them (instead of “
le las he mandado” or “l es las he mandado“)
Juan quiere decírselo.
Juan wants to say it to him/her/them. (instead of “
decírlelo” or “ decírleslo“)
Take this short Quiz to test your knowledge about Indirect Object Pronouns in Spanish:
In the following sentences, fill the gaps using Indirect Object Pronouns:
Yo ___ (1) he mandado la carta.
I have sent you the letter.
Ana ___ (2) enseña su casa.
Ana shows us her house.
Luis ___ (3) compra un regalo.
Luis buys her a present.
Luis ___ (4) compra un regalo a Laura.
Luis buys Laura a present.
Luis ___ (5) compra un regalo a sus padres.
Luis buys his parents a present.
Él ___ (6) da el lápiz.
He gives me the pencil.
Yo ___ (7) cuento una historia.
I tell them a story.
Yo ___ (8) cuento una historia a mis amigos.
I tell my friends a story.
El vendedor ___ (9) enseña el coche.
The seller shows you guys the car.