Direct and Indirect Object Pronouns

Pronouns are words which can take the place of a noun.  These are called personal pronouns.

In this chapter we are going to cover direct and indirect object pronouns. An example direct and indirect object pronouns in English is as follows:
I gave the book to Jane -> I gave it to her (‘it’ – direct object pronoun, ‘her’ – indirect object pronoun)
Direct and indirect object pronouns in Spanish are a little more tricky than they are in English, but you should be able to get the hang of it after some examples.

Direct Object Pronouns

Direct Object Pronouns are used to replace the direct object. Let’s look at a few examples:

Tengo el libro – I have the book
Lo tengo –  I have it

Pagamos la cuenta – We pay the check
La pagamos – We pay it

¿Llevas los libros? – Are you taking the books?
Sí, los llevo – Yes, I am taking them

¿Compramos las blusas? – Shall we buy the blouses?
No, no las compramos – No, we are not buying them

Here is the list of direct object pronouns:

Pronoun

Example

Me

Roberto me escucha
Roberto listens to me

Te

Te entiendo
I understand you

Lo (Used for masculine people and things)

Lo veo
I see him

La (Used for feminine people and things)

La veo
I see her

Nos

Nos entiende
He/She understand us

Los ( Used for masculine people and things)

Los escucho
I hear them

Las (Used for feminine people and things)

Las escucho
I hear them

Some more examples:

Lavamos los platos – We wash the dishes
Los lavamos – We wash them

When you use a verb along with verbs like ‘deber’, ‘tener que’, ‘ir a’, etc there are two acceptable places for the direct object pronoun. Let’s look at a few examples:

Tengo que lavar los platos – I have to wash the dishes
Los tengo que lavar – I have to wash them (form 1)
Tengo que lavarlos – I have to wash them (form 2)

Debo leer los libros – I must read the books
Los debo leer – I must read them
Debo leerlos – I must read them

Vamos a comer la torta – We are going to eat the cake
La vamos a comer – We are going to eat it
Vamos a comerla – We are going to eat it

As you can see there are 2 separate forms for these kinds of sentences. Both are equally correct so use the one that you find easier.

Indirect Object Pronouns

An indirect object pronoun is a person or object that benefits from an action or receives something as a result of the action.

¿Mandaste el documento a Juanita? – Did you send the document to Juanita?
¿Le mandaste el documento? – Did you send it to her? (‘Le’ in the case could be either ‘him’ or ‘her’)

Even though it seems redundant to English speakers, it is very common to say it the following way:

¿Le mandaste el documento a Manolo? – Did you send the document to Manolo? (Even though the ‘Le’ makes ‘a Manolo’ redundant)

Here are the rest of the indirect object pronouns:

Pronoun

Example

Me

‘Me dio el libro’ (a mí)
He/She gave me the book

Te (used for informal ‘you’)

‘Te mandé la carta’ (a tí)
I sent you the letter

Le (Used for ‘him’, ‘her’ or formal ‘you’)

‘Le doy el lápiz’
I gave him/her the pencil

Nos

‘Nos mandaron una tarjeta'(a nosotros)
They sent us a card

Les ( Used for ‘them’ or plural ‘you’)

Les doy mi coche
I give them my car

Let’s look at some examples with ‘me’, ‘te’ and ‘nos’ :

Me mandaron un regalo/
Me mandaron un regalo a mí

The sent me a gift

Te dio el papel/
Te dio el papel a ti

He/She gave you the paper

Nos enseñaron la lección/
Nos enseñaron la lección a nosotros

They taught us the lesson

‘Le’ and ‘les’ are a bit trickier because they could mean different things depending on the context.

Le doy un libro – I give him/her a book

If you want to specify ‘him’ or ‘her’ just to make sure your listener understands what you mean you can say:

Le doy un libro a él – I give him a book
Le doy un libro a ella – I give her a book

The same rule applies to ‘Les’:

Les digo la verdad – I tell them (males/females) the truth

Once again, if you want to be more specific:

Les digo la verdad a ellos – I tell them the truth (males)
Les digo la verdad a ellas – I tell them the truth (females)

One more thing to note is that ‘Le’ could also apply to ‘Usted’ and ‘Les’ could also apply to ‘Ustedes’. See the following examples:

¿Le puedo ayudar?
Can I help you?
(You could also say: ‘Le puedo ayudar a Usted?’)

¿Les puedo traer algo?
Can I bring you (plural) something?
(You could also say: ‘Les puedo traer algo a Ustedes?’)

Direct and Indirect Object Pronouns together

Let’s start with an example:

Digo la verdad a Pedro
I tell Pedro the truth (You could also say ‘Le digo la verdad a Pedro’)

Le digo la verdad
I tell him the truth

Se la digo
I tell it to him (Notice that instead of ‘Le la digo’ the ‘Le’ becomes ‘Se’)
Se la digo a Pedro – I tell it to Pedro

The same rule applies to ‘Les’. If it is followed by ‘lo’, ‘los’, ‘las’, or ‘la’ the ‘Les’ becomes ‘Se’:

Damos el regalo a ellos
We give the gift to them (You could also say ‘Les damos el regalo a ellos’)

Les damos el regalo – We give them the gift
Se lo damos – We give it to them
Se lo damos a ellos – We give it to them

All content belongs to http://www.learnpracticalspanishonline.com/beginner/pronouns.html

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