Chapter 1

Direct and Indirect Object Pronouns

  • A pronoun is a word used to replace a noun.
  • A pronoun replaces a noun to avoid repetition.
Subject pronouns

Subject pronouns function as the subject of a verb. Subject pronouns are optional in Spanish. Many dialects of Spanish use subject pronouns for emphasis or in cases where it is not clear who the subject is.

  • Tengo un estudiante muy gracioso. Él es muy inteligente y habla mucho.
  • I have a student who is very funny. He is very smart and talks a lot.

In the example, above, the pronoun él is used to replace the noun un estudiante.




Direct Object Pronouns

The object that directly receives the action of the verb is called the direct object. The word order is different.

  • In Spanish, the pronoun “lo and la” is placed before the verb
  • In English, the pronoun “it” is placed after the verb

1). Anne abre el libro. Anne opens the book.

  • A direct object is a noun following the verb that answers what? or whom?
    • What Anne opens? the book (it) (lo and la is the English “it”)
  • What is receiving the action of opening? the book
    • Anna opens it. It is the pronoun used to replace the noun, the book.

2). Nick habla con Karen. Nick talks to Karen.

  • A direct object is a noun following the verb that answers what? or whom?
    • With whom Nick talks? Karen (her)
  • Whom is receiving the action? Karen
    • Nick talks to her. Her is the pronoun used to replace Karen.
A table that displays spanish subject pronouns and the corresponding direct object pronouns.
Subject pronoun     Direct Object Pronoun
Yo (me) me
Tú (you) te
Ud./él/ella (him, her) lo, la
Nosotros (us) nos
Uds./ellos/as (them) los, las


A direct object pronoun can be placed:

  • Directly before the first conjugated verb.
    • Juana me quiere visitar.
  • Attached to the second verb in the infinitive.
    • Juana quiere visitarme.

The meaning is the same.


1). Pilar has Jorge’s backpack.

Pilar tiene la mochila de Jorge.
Jorge tiene.


2). Professor Lupet teaches math’s classes.

El profesor Lupet enseña las clases de matemáticas.
El profesor López enseña.


3). The grandparents are going to visit their grandchildren.

Los abuelos van a visitar a sus nietos.Lost abuelos van a visitar .



A table that displays spanish subject pronouns and the corresponding indirect object pronouns.
Subject Pronoun Indirect Object Pronoun
Yo me
Ud./él/ella le
Nosotros nos
Uds./ellos/as les


Indirect Object Pronoun

An indirect object is a person who receives the action of a verb indirectly; to whom or for whom something is done.

In Spanish, the indirect object is usually preceded by the preposition “a” and in English by the preposition “to.”

A sentence that has an indirect object usually also has a direct object.

  • José me compra chocolates. José buys me chocolates.
  • What is the verb of the sentence? Buys
  • For whom José does buy the chocolates? For me
  • What is it that he buys? Chocolates

He buys them for me. Él me (indirect) los (direct) compra.

Whom indirectly receives the action of buying? = me = me
What receives directly the action of buying? = chocolates = los

Order of the pronouns are always
IO first and DO second

  • Él me los va a comprar.
  • Va a comprármelos.


1). María compra bolígrafos para él.

María compra los bolígrafos.

2). La maestra da el examen a los estudiantes.

La maestra da el examen.

3). Ellos traen los libros para Rosa

Ellos traen los libros


Dar (to give) y Decir (to tell, to say)
A table that displays subject pronouns and their form with dar and decir.
Subject Pronoun Dar Decir
Yo doy digo
das dices
Ud./él/ella da dice
Nosotros damos decimos
Uds./ellos/as dan dicen
  • Both verbs are irregular in the “yo” form.
  • Often used with Indirect Object Pronouns, me, te, le.


Decir is a stem-changing verb, from -e to -i.

  • (Yo) le digo a mis estudiantes sus notas. I tell my students their grades.
  • (Yo) le doy a mis estudiantes un examen fácil. I give my students an easy test.


  • (Tú) le dices a tus amigos la noticia. You tell your friends the news.
  • (Tú) le das a tu perro un hueso. You give your dog a bone.




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Spanish 002 by Ana Serrano is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.