Spanish Subject Pronouns: “YO, TÚ, ÉL…”

Welcome to our grammar lesson about Spanish Subject Pronouns.

Subject Pronouns in Spanish (“yo, tú, él…”) are pronouns that represent the person who performs the action of the verb.

Of course, Subject Pronouns are one of the very first things we learn in any Spanish course. They are the equivalent to the English words “I, you, he…”, so we need them all the time to form our sentences.

In this lesson, we will learn all Subject Pronouns and how to use them, providing example sentences. At the end you’ll find a Quiz and an Exercise for practice.

1. Subject Pronouns – Forms

Here is the list of all Subject Pronouns in Spanish. We have included in the table the conjugation of verb “hablar” in Present Tense for each person:

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


Feminine plural forms, only when it is just females

Three of the subject pronouns in the table above are feminine plural: nosotras, vosotras and ellas .

We use this feminine pronouns only when 100% of the people in the referred group are female. As soon as there is one male in the group, we use the masculine forms.

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

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

In some countries, “vos” instead of “tú”

In some Latin American countries such as Argentina or Uruguay, they use the pronoun vos instead of , and the verb forms they use with “vos” are different. We will soon dedicate a lesson to this topic.

2. Conjugating verbs for “usted” and “ustedes”

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

  • Usted conjugates verbs just like él and ella.
  • Ustedes conjugates verbs just like ellos and ellas.

Examples:

Él come.
He eats

Ella come.
She eats

Usted come.
You (formal, singular) eat.

Ellos comen.
They eat.

Ellas comen.
They (feminine) eat.

Ustedes comen.
You guys (formal, plural) eat.

3. Subject Pronouns in the sentence: not always necessary

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

In English, we never just say, for example, “eats”. We always need a subject in the sentence: “he eats”, “she eats”, etc. 

In Spanish, on the other hand, we have the option to not say the Subject Pronoun.

For example, both these 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”, whereas “Yo hablo” would be something like “Me, I speak…”, emphasizing the person in that way.

4. Example sentences

Let’s now read some example sentences, one for each subject pronoun. We have used the verb “bailar” (to dance) in all of them:

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, singular) 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 (formal, plural) dance slowly.

5. Practice Spanish Subject Pronouns

Quiz

Take this short Quiz to test your knowledge about Spanish Subject Pronouns!:

Exercise

In the following dialogs and sentences, fill the gaps in your mind or on a piece of paper using Subject Pronouns. Then check the solutions below:

– ¿Tú eres María?
– Sí, _____ (1) soy María. 

– ¿Vosotros habláis varios idiomas?
– Sí, _____ (2) hablamos español, inglés y francés.

– ¿Juan tiene dos coches?
– Sí, _____ (3) tiene un Ford y un Jeep.

Señora García, _____ (4. formal singular “you”) tiene un hijo muy inteligente.

Ana y Sara estudian van al mismo colegio. _____ (5) son muy buenas amigas. 

Señores, ¿ _____ (6. formal plural “you”) trabajan?

Solutions to the Exercise: 1 = yo, 2 = nosotros, 3 = él, 4 = usted, 5 = Ellas, 6 = ustedes

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