Welcome to our grammar lesson about Spanish Object Pronouns, where we will learn and practice where to place these pronouns.
We will also see what happens when a sentence includes both an Indirect and a Direct Object Pronoun.
At the end, you’ll find a Quiz and an Exercise for practice.
Object Pronouns – Forms
During this lesson, we will be talking about 2 sets of pronouns.
The 2 sets of pronouns are:
Direct Object Pronouns (“Complemento Directo”):
lo – la
los – las
Indirect Object Pronouns (“Complemento Indirecto”):
Direct Object Pronouns represent the person or thing directly receiving the action of the verb.
Indirect Object Pronouns represent the person or thing indirectly receiving the action of the verb (to whom or for whom the action is done).
As we notice in the lists above, the two sets are almost identical in their forms, except for the 3rd persons singular and plural.
(For the rest of the lesson, we will keep the color green for Direct and pink for Indirect).
In order to place these pronouns in a sentence, we need to consider the tense of the verb they are connected to.
Depending of the verb tense, Object Pronouns can occupy two different places:
- Right before the verb, written separately
- 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.
Marta lo sabe.
Marta knows it. (present tense)
Les he comprado un coche.
I have bought them a car. (present perfect)
No me insultes.
Don’t insult me. (negative command).
Os contaremos un chiste.
We will tell you guys a joke. (future tense)
Le mandarías una carta.
You would send him/her 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 form, and also of Affirmative Commands.
Mandarles la carta es importante.
Sending them the letter is important. (infinitive)
I’m buying them. (gerundio)
Do it! (affirmative command)
With 2 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 in the Infinitive or Gerundio form, 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.
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 both an Indirect and a Direct Object Pronoun
There are sentences that include two Object Pronouns one after another: one Indirect and one Direct.
When this happens, we place them precisely in that order: First the Indirect, then the Direct.
Apart from that, all rules in this lesson still apply: the pronouns are placed either before the verb or attached at the end, depending on the tense.
Te lo diré mañana.
I will say it to you tomorrow. (future tense)
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 come 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 the Placement of Spanish Object Pronouns:
In the following dialogs, fill the gaps using Object Pronouns.
In some cases you might need to use two pronouns, or a verb with pronouns attached at the end:
Do you love me?
Sí, __ (1) amo.
Yes, I love you.
¿Estás haciendo las camas?
Are you making the beds?
Sí, estoy ____ (2).
Yes, I’m making them.
¿Me has mandado el correo?
Have you sent me the email?
Sí, __ __ (3) he mandado.
Yes, I have sent it to you.
¿Le habéis dado el regalo a Carlos?
Have you given the present to Carlos?
Sí, __ __ (4) hemos dado.
Yes, we have given it to him.
¿Vais a explicarme el problema?
Are you guys going to explain me the problem?
Sí, vamos a ____ (5).
Yes, we are going to explain it to you.
¿Nos vas a llamar?
Are you going to call us?
Sí, voy a ____ (6).
Yes, I’m going to call you guys.
¿Quieres contarles la historia?
Do you want to tell them the story?
Sí, quiero ____ (7).
Yes, I want to tell it to them.
3) te lo
4) se lo