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Pronombres Personales (Personal Pronouns)

Written by tutor Dominic J.

Pronouns in general are words that are used to refer to someone or something without having to use that particular objects name over and over again. For example, “That is my baseball, can you give it to me so I can put it away?” instead of “That is my baseball, can you give me my baseball so I can put my baseball away?” It is pretty obvious from the context of the sentence that we are referring to a baseball... not a car or a spaceship. The same goes in Spanish, “Esa es mi pelota, me la das para que la ponga en su lugar?”

Personal pronouns pop up in a lot of different way in Spanish. Before we get into all that, let’s look at what they are:

English
Subject
Subject Indirect     
Object
Direct     
Object
Reflexive     
Object
Object of
Preposition
Reflexive Object
of Preposition
I yo me me me
Singular
you
(informal)
te te te ti ti
Singular
you
(formal)
usted (Ud.) le lo, la se usted
he él le lo se él
she ella le la se ella
we nosotros, -as nos nos nos nosotros, -as nosotros, -as
Plural you          
(informal)
vosotros, -as           os      os      os      vosotros, -as           vosotros, -as
Plural you
(formal)
ustedes
(Uds.)
les los, las se ustedes
they ellos les los se ellos
they ellas les las se ellas

As you can see, there are a lot of them to remember, and how you use them depends on which type you are using. Some pretty basic rules for using these are as follows:

Double Object Pronouns

If a verb has two object pronouns, the indirect goes before the direct object pronoun.

Example: If you are done with the crayons, could you give them to me?
              Si ya acabaste con las crayolas, melas.
                        da - the command form of "dar" (to give)
                        me - the indirect pronoun referring to the person to whom you are giving the crayons
                        las - the direct pronoun referring to the crayons themselves

If both the direct and indirect object pronouns begin with l, the indirect pronoun is changed to se.

Example: Give it to him.
              selo (not "Dálelo")

Position of the with-verb object pronouns

Direct, indirect and reflexive object pronouns are attached to the end of infinitives, -ndo forms (gerunds) and affirmative commands. They go immediately before all other verb forms.

Example: Are you going to eat those grapes, or are you going to put them away?
              Vas a comer esas uvas, o las vas a poner en su lugar?
                        las - the same direct pronoun gets attached to the gerund form of verbs

Special cases:

  • Conmigo - with me
  • Contigo - with you

In general, understanding personal pronouns in Spanish is not much different from learning them in English. There are more of them, which can make it more confusing, but the patterns become easier to understand with practice.

Something to bear in mind is the emphasis on certain syllables and the accent marks. If a particular word has the emphasis placed on any syllable other than the second-to-last (a.k.a. penultimate) syllable, then an accent mark is usually placed over that syllable to emphasize that. This is usually noteworthy when conjugating verbs between present tense and past tense. For example, the verb “caminar” (to walk) conjugates to “camino” (I walk) or “caminó” (he walked) depending on the context. In the first conjugation, we put the emphasis on “mi”, whereas in the second conjugation, the emphasis goes on the “nó”.

When using direct and indirect pronouns, you will likely run into scenarios where the length of the word in question will imply that accents should be used. For example, “dámelas” puts an accent on the first “a” because the emphasis is now on the third-to-last syllable.

Pronombres Personales Practice Quiz

If you have double object pronouns, the _______ goes before the _______ object pronoun.

A. direct, indirect
B. indirect, direct
C. reflexive, directive
D. indirect, reflexive
The correct answer here would be B.

Translate the following sentence, “I would like some green beans, please pass them to me.”

A. Me gustaria unos ejotes, por favor pásamelas.
B. Me gustaria unos ejotes, por favor pásatelas.
C. Me gustaria unos ejotes, por favor pásalelas.
D. Me gustaria unos ejotes, por favor pásaselas.
The correct answer here would be A.

Direct, indirect and reflexive object pronouns are attached to all of the following but which form?

A. the end of infinitives
B. -ndo forms (gerunds)
C. affirmative commands
D. negative commands
The correct answer here would be D.

Translate the following sentence, “Throw the ball to him, don’t throw it to her.”

A. Tiras la pelota a él, no la tire a ella.
B. Tires la pelota a él, no la tires a ella
C. Tira la pelota a él, no la tires a ella.
D. Tira la pelota a él, no la tira a ella.
The correct answer here would be C.
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