Object pronouns in Spanish

Object Pronouns in Spanish, Direct and Indirect

Welcome to our grammar lesson about object pronouns in Spanish.

In this lesson, we will talk about both direct and indirect object pronouns (“complemento directo” and “complemento indirecto”).

Two sentences with object pronouns (one direct, one indirect)
Two sentences with object pronouns (one direct, one indirect)

We will learn their forms and where to place them in the sentence.

At the end, you’ll find a Quiz and Exercises for practice.

Forms

During this lesson, we are always referring to the following 2 sets of pronouns:

Direct object pronouns
SpanishEnglish
meme
teyou
lo, lahim, her (both can also mean "it" or formal "you")
nosus
osyou guys
los, lasthem (both can also mean formal plural "you")


Indirect object pronouns
SpanishEnglish
meme
teyou
lehim, her, it, formal "you"
nosus
osyou guys
lesthem, formal plural "you"



Direct object pronouns represent the person or thing directly receiving the action of the verb. For example, in the English sentence “I send it”, “it” is a direct object pronoun.

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. For example, in the English sentence “I send her a letter”, “her” is an indirect object pronoun (not what I send, but to whom I send it).

As we notice in the lists above, direct and indirect forms are almost identical, except for the 3rd persons singular and plural.

In the rest of this lesson, for clarity, we keep the color orange for direct and purple for indirect.

Direct object

Direct object pronouns represent the person or thing directly receiving the action of the verb.

Examples:

¿Tú me quieres?
Do you love me?

Sí, te quiero.
Yes, I love you.

Laura nos conoce.
Laura knows us.

Nosotros os vemos.
We see you guys.


In the case of the third person pronouns (lo, la, los, las), they usually replace a noun.

In order to choose between lo and la (or between los and las) we need to consider the gender of the noun they replace.

Read the following dialogs:

¿Conocéis a Miguel?
Do you guys know Miguel?
Sí, lo conocemos.
Yes, we know him. (“lo” replaces “Miguel”)

¿Tú tienes la mesa?
Do you have the table?
Sí, yo la tengo en mi casa.
Yes, I have it in my house. (“la” replaces “la mesa”)

¿Has perdido los libros?
Have you lost the books?
No, no los he perdido.
No, I haven’t lost them. (“los” replaces “los libros”)

¿Él compra las botellas?
Does he buy the bottles?
Sí, él las compra.
Yes, he buys them. (“las” replaces “las botellas”)

Indirect object

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.

Examples:

¿Me has mandado la carta?
Have you sent me the letter?

Sí, te he mandado la carta.
Yes, I have sent you the letter.

Yo le doy un beso.
I give him/her/formal you a kiss.

Nuestra madre nos cuenta un cuento.
Our mother tells us a story.

¿Qué os han dicho?.
What have they told you guys?

Nosotros les llevamos bebidas.
We bring drinks to them/formal plural you.

Placement

In order to place object pronouns in a sentence, we need to consider the tense of the verb they are connected with.

Depending of the tense, object pronouns can occupy two different spots:

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

Let’s study both possibilities:

1. Right before the verb, written separately

This happens when the verb is conjugated in any tense with the exception of the Infinitive, Gerundio and Affirmative Commands.

Examples:

Marta lo sabe.
Marta knows it. (present tense)

Yo les he comprado un coche.
I have bought them/formal plural you a car. (present perfect)

No me insultes.
Don’t insult me. (negative command).

Nosotros os contaremos un chiste.
We will tell you guys a joke. (future tense)

le mandarías una carta.
You would send him/her/formal you a letter. (conditional tense)

Ella nos llamó.
She called us. (preterite tense)


2. Attached at the end of the verb

We attach object pronouns at the end of verbs in the Infinitive or Gerundio, and also of Affirmative Commands.

Examples:

Mandarles la carta es importante.
Sending them/formal plural you the letter is important. (infinitive)

Yo estoy comprándolos.
I’m buying them. (gerundio)

Hazlo.
Do it! (affirmative command)


With two verbs combined – Either before the first or attached after the second

In the case of 2 verbs combined as a “team”, with the second verb being in the Infinitive or Gerundio, we have the freedom to choose.

We can either place the object pronouns before the first verb, or attached at the end of the second verb:

Lo estoy haciendo.
Estoy haciéndolo.
Both sentences mean “I’m doing it.


Os queremos hacer un regalo.
Queremos haceros un regalo.
Both mean “We want to make you guys a present”.


La tenemos que arreglar.
Tenemos que arreglarla.
Both mean “We have to fix it“.

Sentences with 2 object pronouns

There are sentences that include 2 object pronouns next to each other: one indirect and one direct.

When this happens, we place the pronouns in that order: first the indirect, then the direct.

The rest of the rules in this lesson still apply: the pronouns are placed before the verb or attached at the end, depending on the tense.

Yo te lo digo.
I say it to you. (present tense)

melo
Say it to me. (affirmative command)


Special case where “le” or “les” become “se”

The indirect object pronouns le and les become se when they are placed just 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 better.

Examples:

Yo se las he mandado.
I have sent them to him/her/them/formal you. (instead of “le las he mandado” or “les las he mandado“)

Juan quiere decírselo.
Juan wants to say it to him/her/them/formal you. (instead of “decírlelo” or “decírleslo“)

Practice

Quiz

Take this short Quiz to test your knowledge about Spanish object pronouns:


Exercise 1

In the following dialogs, fill the gaps using direct object pronouns:

1) Álvaro, ¿tienes mi móvil?
Álvaro, do you have my cellphone?
Sí, __ tengo.
Yes, I have it.

2) ¿Sabes la respuesta a esta pregunta?
Do you know the answer to this question?
No, no __ sé.
No, I don’t know it.

3) ¿Has puesto las tijeras sobre la mesa?
Have you put the scissors on the table?
Sí, __ he puesto ahí.
Yes, I’ve put them there.

4) ¿ __ quieres?
Do you love me?
5) Sí, __ quiero.
Yes, I love you.

6) ¿Habéis comprado las patatas?
Have you guys bought the potatoes?
Sí, __ hemos comprado.
Yes, we have bought them.

7) ¿Tú __ oyes?
Do you hear us?
8) Sí, __ oigo perfectamente.
Yes, I hear you guys perfectly.

Solutions:
1) lo
2) la
3) las
4) Me
5) te
6) las
7) nos
8) os


Exercise 2

In the following sentences, fill the gaps using indirect object pronouns:

1) Yo __ he mandado la carta.
I have sent you the letter.

2) Ana __ enseña su casa.
Ana shows us her house.

3) Luis __ compra un regalo.
Luis buys her a present.

4) Él __ da el lápiz.
He gives me the pencil.

5) Yo __ cuento una historia.
I tell them a story.

6) El vendedor __ enseña el coche.
The seller shows you guys the car.

Solutions:
1) te
2) nos
3) le
4) me
5) les
6) os


Exercise 3

In the following dialogs, fill the gaps using object pronouns (direct or indirect).

In some cases you might need to use two pronouns, or a verb with pronouns attached at the end:

1) ¿Me amas?
Do you love me?
Sí, __ amo.
Yes, I love you.

2) ¿Estás haciendo las camas?
Are you making the beds?
Sí, estoy ____.
Yes, I’m making them.

3) ¿Me has mandado el correo?
Have you sent me the email?
Sí, __ __ he mandado.
Yes, I have sent it to you.

4) ¿Le habéis dado el regalo?
Have you given him the present?
Sí, __ __ hemos dado.
Yes, we have given it to him.

5) ¿Vais a explicarme el problema?
Are you guys going to explain me the problem?
Sí, vamos a ____.
Yes, we are going to explain it to you.

6) ¿Nos vas a llamar?
Are you going to call us?
Sí, voy a ____.
Yes, I’m going to call you guys.

7) ¿Quieres contarles la historia?
Do you want to tell them the story?
Sí, quiero ____.
Yes, I want to tell it to them.

Solutions:
1)
 te
2) haciéndolas
3) te lo
4) se lo
5) explicártelo
6) llamaros
7) contársela

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