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How to Use Direct Object Pronouns in Spanish

Direct and indirect object pronouns can be challenging in Spanish. Students often confuse them and get them mixed up.

To help you, we will start by explaining how to use the direct object pronouns.

Here you will find a list of examples with audio to help you better understand the concepts and to practice your listening skills. In addition, we provide a list of links where you will be able to practice the concepts explained here.

Let’s get started!

NOTICE: some of the links in this posts are affiliate links. If you purchase something, I will receive a commission. However, your purchase price will remain unchanged.

What are Direct Object Pronouns?

Firstly, we will start defining what a direct object is.

A direct object is the noun (what or who(m)) that receives the action of the verb.

EXAMPLES
  • Veo el libro. → I see the book.
  • Susana compra flores. → Susana buys flowers.
  • Llamamos a María. → We call María.

Then, a direct object pronoun is a pronoun that replaces the direct object. By doing so, you avoid unnecessary repetitions of the direct object.

Additionally, the pronouns agree in number (singular, plural) and gender (feminine, masculine) of the noun they replace.

Here is a list with all the direct object pronouns and their equivalence in English.

SPANISHENGLISH
Me

Me
Te
You (informal)
Lo
Him
It (masculine)
You (formal, masculine)
La
Her
It (feminine)
You (formal, feminine)
Nos
Us
Os
You all (informal, Spain)
Los
Them (masculine)
You all (formal, masculine)
Las
Them (feminine)
You all (formal, feminine)

How do Direct Object Pronouns Work?

A direct object pronoun can refer to a thing, a person or a noun phrase.

REFERING TO A THING

When the pronoun refers to a thing, we are answering to the following question: what does receive the action of the verb?

EXAMPLES
  • Vemos una película. → We see a movie.
    • La vemos. → We see it.
  • Pedro conduce un coche. → Pedro drives a car.
    • Pedro lo conduce. → Pedro drives it.

REFERING TO A PERSON

On the other hand, when the pronoun refers to a person (or a pet), we are answering to next question: Who(m) does receive the action of the verb?

When the direct object refer to a specific person (or pet), we use the personal a.

EXAMPLES
  • Abrazaron a Ana. → They hug Ana.
    • La abrazaron. → They hug her.
  • Juan acaricia a su perro. → Juan pets his dog.
    • Juan lo acaricia. → Juan pets it.
Leismo

In Spain, it is very common to use the pronouns le and les instead of lo/la/los/las when referring to people.

Mainly, this happens when the direct object refers to a male person (le instead of lo).

If you are interested about this topic, we wrote an article about it.

REFERING TO A NOUN PHRASE

Unlike the previous cases, a noun phrase just use more words.

  • El tornado destruyó el edificio que está cerca del río. → The tornado destroyed the building that is close to the river.
    • El tornado lo destruyó. → The tornado destroyed it.
  • Alfredo tiene el coche de sus sueños. → Alfredo has his dream car.
    • Alfredo lo tiene. → Alfredo has it.

Where are These Pronouns Placed?

CONJUGATED VERBS

In affirmative statements, negative statements, and questions, the direct object pronoun goes before the conjugated verb.

EXAMPLES
  • Alberto lo dijo. → Alberto said it.
  • Alberto no lo dijo. → Alberto didn´t say it.
  • ¿Lo dijo Alberto? → Did Alberto say it?

PROGRESSIVE TENSES

With present participles the pronoun can go before the form of estar or attached to the end of the present participle.

EXAMPLES
  • Nosotros lo estamos enviando. → We are sending it.
  • Nosotros estamos enviándolo. → We are sending it.

VERB + INFINITIVE

In verb + infinitive constructions the pronoun can either go before the first verb or attached to the infinitive.

  • La vamos a enviar en dos días. → We are going to send it in two days.
  • Vamos a enviarla en dos días. → We are going to send it in two days.

COMMANDS

With commands, the pronouns gets tacked on the end of the verb in affirmative commands, and placed before the conjugated verb in negative commands.

EXAMPLES
  • ¡Hazlo ahora! → Do it now!
  • No los toques. → Don´t touch them.

Where to Practice the Direct Object Pronouns

Gap Fill Exercises
Oral Practice
Quizzes
Test
Written Practice
Others

Final Thoughts

I hope this post helps you understand direct object pronouns in Spanish.

I advise you to practice with the examples here and try to make up some on your own. Also, practice with the exercises that you will find in the links mentioned above.

If you want, I can help you practice with these pronouns by using them while having a conversation during our online Spanish conversation classes.

Also, we can practice in the comment section below by answering the following questions and filling the blank spaces :

  • ¿Tienes una casa en la playa?
    • Sí, ___ tengo.
    • No, no ___ tengo.
  • ¿Estás enviando un documento?
    • Sí, ___ estoy enviando.
    • No, no estoy enviándo___.
  • La mesa está sucia. ¡Límpia___!

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