Chapter 5   --   The Pronouns


The Subject Pronouns

A pronoun is a word that stands for someone or something.   In English, the pronouns are used frequently, and are required in order to indicate who is doing the action described by the verb.   For example, we say “I wrote this grammar.”   In Spanish, because of the fact that the verb ending includes a reference to the person doing the action, the subject pronouns are used less frequently than in English, and it is grammatically correct to omit them.   The subject pronouns follow.

                   English                         Spanish

                   I                                      Yo

                   You                                 (familiar, singular)

                   He                                   Él

                   She                                  Ella

                   You                                 Usted ( polite, singular)

                   Who                                Quién (singular)

                   We                                  Nosotras (feminine plural)

                   We                                  Nosotros (masculine or mixed plural)

                   You                                 Vosotras (familiar feminine plural)

                   You                                 Vosotros (familiar masculine or mixed plural)

                   They                               Ellas (feminine plural)

                   They                               Ellos (masculine or mixed plural)

                   You                                 Ustedes (polite plural)

                   Who                                Quienes (plural)

In Spain, the vosotros form is common, but in Latin America, vosotros is not used in ordinary speech, and ustedes is used instead.


Spanish NEVER uses the pronoun it as the subject of a sentence.

            examples:         Es verdad (It is true)    Son incorrectos (They are incorrect)       Llueve (It is raining)    Nieva (It is snowing)


Prepositional pronouns

After prepositions (words such as about, behind, for, with, to, and so on), the subject pronouns are used, except that yo is changed to , and is changed to .   The other pronouns remain the same.

          examples:    para(for me)                       a (to you)

                             para él(for him)                       a ella (to her)

                             con usted ( with you)                con quién (with whom)

                            sin nosotros (without us)           por vosotros (by you)

                            sobre ellos (about them)           a quienes (to whom)


The Object Pronouns

Pronouns can be the object of a verb, that is the person to whom an action is directed, or the thing involved in the action. (example:   I asked him to come.   He bought it for me.)   The object pronouns are:

        English                                                                                 Spanish

          me                                                                                          me

          you                                                                                         te

          him, a masculine thing, unknown gender                                   lo

          her or a feminine thing                                                             la

          us                                                                                           nos

          you (familiar plural)                                                                 os

          them, masculine or mixture of things                                         los

          them, women or feminine things                                               las


In English, object pronouns follow the verb, but in Spanish they precede the verb.

          examples:     John saw me.                         Juan me vió.                  I saw him.                     Yo lo .

                              Did you see the elephant?     ¿Viste el elefante?           Yes, I saw it.                 Sí, lo

                              Did you see the flowers?      ¿Viste las flores?              Yes, I saw them.           Sí, las

                              Did you buy the books?       ¿Compraste los libros?    Yes, I bought them.       Sí, los compré.


The Indirect Pronouns

These pronouns are the same as the object pronouns, except that le is used in place of lo or la, and les is used in place of los or las.   When le or les precede la, las, lo, or los, they are changed to se. In English, the indirect object is almost always identified by the preposition to. In the case of "I threw the ball to John", the direct object (the thing that was thrown) was the ball, which was thrown to John. In this case, John is the indirect object. When a pronoun is used to refer to John (in this example), that pronoun will be an indirect pronoun.

Some examples follow.

          Joseph told the story to me.              José dijo el cuento a mi .

          Joseph told it to me.                          José lo dijo a mi. (in this case, the pronoun lo refers to the story, el cuento, which is masculine singular)

          Joseph told me it.                             José me lo dijo.(In this sentence, me means to me, and lo refers to the story.]


          Charles gave the money to John.       Carlos dió el dinero a Juán.

          Charles gave it to John.                     Carlos lo dió a Juán. (in this case, the pronoun lo refers to the money, el dinero, which is masculine singular)

          Charles gave him it.                            Carlos se lo dió. (in this case, se refers to him, and lo refers to the money.)


          She will give the books to us               Ella dará los libros a nosotros.

          She will them to us.                             Ella los dará a nosotros. (in this case, the pronoun los refers to the books, los libros, masculine plural)

          She will give us them.                          Ella nos los dará. (in this case, nos refers to us, and los refers to the books)


In an affirmative command, the verb is placed first, just as in English.

                   Give the book to me.                Dé el libro a mi.

                   Give me the book.                    me el libro.

                   Give me it.                                me lo.   [ lo refers to the book.]


In Spanish, negative commands are always arranged as in the following examples.

          Don’t send me the flowers.                No me envíe las flores.

          Don’t send me them.                          No me las envíe.


When used in combination, a fixed pattern determines the placement of the pronouns.   The personal pronoun comes first, then the pronoun which refers to a thing or idea follows.

examples:    John brought me some flowers.        Juán me trajo unas flores.

                  John brought me them.                      Juán me las trajo. [In this sentence, me refers to me, and las refers to the flowers.]


                  Henry brought you a gift.                 Enrico te trajo un regalo.

                  Henry brought it to you.                   Enrico te lo trajo.           [In this sentence, te refers to you, and lo refers to the gift.]


                   Joseph gave us the bill.                      José nos dió la cuenta.

                   Joseph gave us it.                               José nos la dió.             [In this sentence, nos refers to us, and la refers to the bill.]


                   Helen sent them a letter.                     Elena les mandó una carta.

                   Helen sent them it.                               Elena se la mandó.         [In these sentences, les and se refer to them, and la refers to the letter.]


In those cases where a phrase is used, the translation will match.

examples:    Mary sent a letter to them.                 María mandó una carta a ellos.

                   Mary sent it to them.                         María la mandó a ellos.

In this example, una carta (feminine singular) was sent.   Thus, the pronoun la (feminine singular) was used.


This book is available from under item number 3352644. Books purchased from Lulu are accompanied by a complete list of irregular verbs and all of their forms.

Chapter 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26


To send an electronic message to the webmaster, click here: