Subject pronouns in Spanish

Subject Pronouns in Spanish: yo, tú, él, ella... Learn and Practice Them

Welcome to our grammar lesson about Spanish subject pronouns (“Pronombres personales de sujeto”).

Subject pronouns (yo, tú, él…) represent the person who performs the action of the verb.

Two sentences with Spanish subject pronouns
Two sentences with subject pronouns

They are equivalent to the English “I, you, he…”.

This lesson will teach you all about subject pronouns and their use, with many example sentences.

At the end you’ll find a Quiz and an Exercise for practice.

Forms

Here’s a list of all subject pronouns in Spanish (we have also included the conjugation of the verb “hablar” in Present Tense):

EnglishSpanish"hablar" (Present Tense)
Iyohablo
youhablas
he
she
formal you
él
ella
usted
habla
we guys
we girls
nosotros
nosotras
hablamos
you guys
you girls
vosotros
vosotras
habláis
they (masc.)
they (fem.)
formal plural you
ellos
ellas
ustedes
hablan


Use feminine plural forms to mean “only females”

In the table above, we see 3 pronouns that are feminine plural: nosotras, vosotras and ellas.

We use these forms only when 100% of the people in a group are females. As soon as there is one male in the group, we use the masculine forms.

For example, if we are 20 women, we say nosotras.
But if we are 20 women and 1 man, we say nosotros.

There is a debate nowadays on whether this is sexist and should be changed. But for the moment, it’s still the rule.

Conjugating verbs for “usted” and “ustedes”

usted (formal “you”) and ustedes (formal plural “you”) conjugate verbs in the following way:

  • usted conjugates verbs like él and ella.
  • ustedes conjugates verbs like ellos and ellas.

Examples:

Él come.
He eats
Ella come.
She eats
Usted come.
You (formal) eat.

Ellos comen.
They (masculine) eat.
Ellas comen.
They (feminine) eat.
Ustedes comen.
You ladies/gentlemen (formal) eat.

Example sentences

Let’s now read some example sentences, one with each subject pronoun.

We have used the verb “bailar” (to dance) in all sentences:

Yo bailo flamenco.
I dance flamenco.

bailas muy bien.
You dance very well.

Él baila salsa.
He dances salsa.

Ella baila salsa también.
She dances salsa too.

Usted baila todos los días.
You (formal) dance every day.

Nosotros bailamos mal.
We dance badly.

Nosotras bailamos en la escuela.
We dance in the school. (“nosotras” implies that it is only women)

¿Vosotros bailáis?
Do you guys dance?

Vosotras bailáis con mucha energía.
You girls dance with a lot of energy. (“vosotras” implies that it is only women)

Ellos bailan fatal.
They dance horribly.

Ellas bailan fenomenal.
They dance extremely well (“ellas” implies that it is only women).

Ustedes bailan lento.
You ladies/gentlemen (formal) dance slowly.

Subject pronouns are not always necessary

This is a characteristic of the Spanish language that is different from English. 

For example, in English we can’t just say “eats”. A subject is always needed in the sentence: he eats”, “she eats”, etc. 

But in Spanish we have the option to leave the subject pronoun unsaid.

For example, these two sentences mean “I speak Spanish”:

Yo hablo español.
Hablo español.

And these two sentences mean “We eat pasta”:

Nosotros comemos pasta.
Comemos pasta.


We mention the subject pronoun when we want to emphasize the person.

Hablo” means “I speak”.
Yo hablo” means something like “Me, I speak…”, emphasizing the person in that way.

Practice

Quiz

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


Exercise

Fill the gaps and complete the sentences using subject pronouns:

1) __ soy María. 
I am María.

2) __ hablamos español.
We (men and women) speak Spanish.

3) __ tiene dos coches.
He has two cars.

4) Señora García, __ tiene un hijo muy listo.
Mrs. García, you (formal) have a very smart boy.

5) __ son buenas amigas.
They (only women) are good friends.

6) Señores, ¿ __ trabajan?
Gentlemen, do you (formal) work?

Solutions:
1) Yo
2) Nosotros
3) Él
4) usted
5) Ellas
6) ustedes

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