unstressed direct, indirect pronouns in Spanish
21 Feb 2014
Sometimes I help friends with Spanish grammar, I’m not an expert but I remember I wasn’t that bad on my Spanish classes neither. It’s also a good chance to practice my English, though. Anyway, last time I explained what were unstressed pronouns (pronómbres átonos) and I though it would be cool to start writing about it.
Unstressed object pronouns are used in Spanish to replace direct and indirect objects with pronouns, it’s one of the trickiest Spanish structures and even native speakers can misuse them, so they should be studied carefully. They can be translated sometimes as: me, you, him, her, it, us and them. However people should be aware that they don’t have exactly the same meaning.
To use correctly unstressed object pronouns, you should be able to recognize with ease when a phrase contain either a direct or indirect object. Let me wrap it up, A direct object is the part of the sentence which receives the action of the main verb, it can be discovered by asking what? and whom? to the verb.
Pepe eats fish / Pepe come pescado (what does Pepe eat?) do(direct object) = fish = pescado
Exercises: Find the direct object in the following sentences
Juan Loves María / Juan ama a María
Carlos fixes computers / Carlos arregla computadoras
The policeman saw the thieves / El policia vio a los ladrones
The indirect object in the other hand is whom receives the action of the direct object, and it can be discovered by asking, to whom?, for whom?.
Lucas buys a watermelon for Sandra / Lucas compra una sandía para Sandra do (direct object) = a watermelon = una sandía io(indirect object) = for Sandra = para Sandra
Exercises: Find the direct and indirect object of the following phrases
Margarita made coffee for Marcos / Margarita hizo café para Marcos
Alba gave some tips to her son / Alba dio unos consejos a su hijo
The told the workers to arrive earlier / El jefé dijó a los trabajadores que llegaran más temprano
Once you’re able to identify the existence of an direct/indirect object in a phrase you’ll be able to use the appropriate pronoun. Take a look at the table in the header of this posts.
Pepe eats fish / Pepe come pescado do=fish=pescado, pescado refers to an animal in third person singular (he, the fish)
It must be replaced with ‘lo’:
Pepe *lo* come (it should be placed by general rule before the main verb)
Let’s review other example:
Juan loves Maria / Juan ama a María do=a Maria, Maria refers to a person in third person singular (she, Maria)
On this case, ‘a Maria’ must be replaced with ‘la’ (it’s female):
Juan *la* ama
Exercises: Replace the direct object with the appropriate pronoun
Did you find your mother’s ring? / ¿Has encontrado el anillo de tu madre?
Roberto paid a lot of money for his new car / Roberto pagó mucho dinero por su nuevo carro
A friend will translate the book / Un amigo traducirá el libro
The same technique can be used to replace indirect objects.
Lucas buys a watermelon for Sandra / Lucas compra una sandía para Sandra od=a watermelon=una sandía id=for Sandra=para Sandra
Sandra refers to a third person in singular (she, Sandra) and it can be replaced with ‘le’ because of being an indirect object. If it were a direct object it would be replaced with ‘la’.
Lucas *le* compra una sandía
Exercises: Replace the indirect object with the appropriate pronoun
Tomorrow I’ll give the money to Eduardo / Mañana entregaré el dinero a Eduardo
I bought a gift for you / Compré un regalo para ti
The donations will be given back to the contributers this year Los donativos de este año serán devueltos a los contribuyentes
Both can be replaced at the same time, the direct and the indirect objects, however when doing it, a new rule applies, whenever a ‘lo’ and ‘le’ gets together, the second one must be replaced with ‘se’ (indirect object).
Lucas buys a watermelon for Sandra / Lucas compra una sandía para Sandra od=a watermelon=una sandía id=for Sandra=para Sandra Lucas la compra para Sandra (replacing the direct object) Lucas le compra una sandía (replacing the indirect object) Lucas se la compra (replacing both)
Pay attention to the ‘se’ which replaces ‘le’ for the indirect object
Exercises: Replace the direct/indirect objects with the appropriate pronouns
I told the girls the reasons of my decision / Les dije a las chicas las razones de mi decisión
Did you get back the chair to the neighbor (female)? / ¿Devolviste la silla a la vecina?
Diana wrote a letter to Hugo / Diana escribio una carta para Hugo
keywords, palabras clave: leismo, laismo, loismo, objeto directo, objeto indirecto
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_3flr9ni0s (direct object / objeto directo)
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jMzAQ2bQEx0 (indirect object / objeto indirecto)
- http://www.appstate.edu/~fountainca/1050/unidad2/pronombresatonos.html (unstressed pronouns / pronombres átonos)