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Direct and Indirect Object in Spanish

 

A direct object is the noun or pronoun that the verb acts directly on. And an indirect object is the person affected by the action but not acted directly upon. If you're learning Spanish, the distinction can be important to make because Spanish, unlike English, sometimes uses different pronouns for direct and indirect objects. The only difference between direct object pronouns and indirect object pronouns is the third person of the singular and plural, you will notice that in the table below, so it's easy to memorize them, but the trick is how to use them in a sentence, since they take different positions.

 

Spanish Direct Object

DO Pronouns

English Equivalent

me

me

te

you (familiar)

lo, la

him, her, it, you (formal)

nos

us

os

you-all (familiar)

los, las

them, you-all (formal)

 

When you have both a direct object pronoun and an indirect object pronoun in the same sentence, the indirect object pronoun comes first.

 

Spanish Indirect Object

IO Pronouns

English Equivalent

me

me

te

you (familiar)

le

him, her, it, you (formal)

nos

us

os

you-all (familiar)

les

them, you-all (formal)

 

Ella me los da (she gives them to me) Indirect Object Pronoun: me, Direct Object Pronoun: los.

Whenever both pronouns begin with the letter "l" change the first pronoun to "se."

le lo becomes se lo, le la becomes se la, le los becomes se los, le las becomes se las, les lo becomes se lo, les la becomes se la, ,les los becomes se los, les las becomes se las.

In negative sentences, the negative word comes directly before the first pronoun. No te la compro (I didn't buy it for you).

 

In sentences with two verbs, there are two options regarding the placement of the pronouns. Place them immediately before the conjugated verb or attach them directly to the infinitive or present participles. “You could buy it for me” can be formed either like this: Tú me la puedes comprar. (or) tu puedes comprármela. Note the accent on the final syllable of the infinitive, it should be added each time a pronoun is attached to the infinitive.

When the pronouns are attached to the infinitive, make the sentence negative by placing the negative word directly before the conjugated verb. And when the pronouns come before the conjugated verb, make the sentence negative by placing the negative word directly before the pronouns.

Tú puedes comprármela -------> Tú no puedes comprármela.        Tú  me la puedes comprar ----->Tú no me la puedes comprar.

Note: an indirect-object pronoun is required whenever a sentence includes an indirect object. A further clause can be added for clarity or emphasis, but an indirect pronoun is still required. le doy could mean "I give him/I give her/I give you (formal)" depending on the context. So adding a prepositional phrase will make things clearer= le doy a ella (I give her). Note that le is still required, even though a ella makes it clear who is addressed in the sentence.

In commands, direct & indirect objects are attached to affirmative commands but precede negative commands.

Háblame de tu país! (tell me about your country), but in negative: no me hables de las mujeres! (don’t tell me about women).

 

Summary:

 

A direct object is the noun or pronoun that the verb acts directly on. And an indirect object is the person affected by the action but not acted directly upon.

Direct object pronouns and indirect object pronouns are:

 

Spanish Direct & Indirect Object

DO Pronouns

IO Pronouns

English Equivalent

me

me

me

te

te

you (familiar)

lo, la

le

him, her, it, you (formal)

nos

nos

us

os

os

you-all (familiar)

los, las

les

them, you-all (formal)

 

Whenever both pronouns begin with the letter "l" change the first pronoun to "se." le lo becomes se lo, le la = se la, le los = se los, le las = se las, les lo = se lo, les la = se la, ,les los = se los, les las = se las . When you have both a direct object pronoun and an indirect object pronoun in the same sentence, the indirect object pronoun comes first.

 

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