Object pronouns -direct and indirect object pronouns- substitute the noun. In English these are ‘me’, ‘him’, ‘her’ and so on. For example, in the sentence ‘Give Sam the pen,’ Sam is a noun, which can be changed to ‘Give her the pen.’ In Spanish the pronoun either comes before the verb as a separate word or after joined with the verb, when are used with affirmative imperative, an infinitive or a gerund. For example:
Le da el boli (he is giving her the pen).
Voy a darle el boli (I am going to give her the pen).
‘Dale el boli’ (give her the pen).
Estoy dándole el bolí (I am giving her the pen).
Object pronouns in Spanish
¿Puedes hacerme una tostada? (Can you make me a toast?)
Os llamo manaña (I will call you tomorrow).
¿Te gusta este libro? (Do you like this book?)
Direct and indirect object pronouns in Spanish
As you can see object pronouns are a little more complicated in Spanish and that is because they change depending on whether you are referring to the direct or indirect object. Direct and indirect objects are nothing to be afraid of – you have them in English.
How direct and indirect objects work
The majority of sentences have two objects. The direct object is the noun or pronoun on the receiving end of the action for example, ‘Pass me the pen’ – it is the pen here that is receiving the action (by being passed around). The indirect object is the person or entity for whom you are doing the action.
In the above sentence the indirect object is ‘me’. Another way to say this would be ‘Pass the pen for me’. In English indirect objects are often indicated with the prepositions ‘for’ or ‘to.’ For example, ‘Explain the problem to us’ – the problem is the direct object while ‘us’ is the indirect object. With pronouns this is ‘Explain it to us.’ In the Spanish equivalent of this sentence the direct object is signified with ‘lo’ and the indirect with ‘nos.’ So it would be ‘explícamelo’ – The indirect object goes first followed by the direct (or in other words ‘lo’ and ‘la’ go at the end). Explain to him the problem would be ‘Explícale el problema.’
The LE, LO, LA rule
If I were to say in Spanish (Give them to them) I would end up with ‘Daleslas.’ These are far too many ‘l’ words for comfort. To avoid the Repetition of all those ‘l’ sounds ‘le’ and ‘les’ change to ‘se’ when paired with ‘lo,’ ‘la’, ‘los’ or ‘las.’ So the above sentence would be ‘Dáselas.’ More examples ‘Explícaselo’ (explain it to her). ‘Prestárselo’ (lend him/them it).
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