Indirect object pronouns in Spanish are a little trickier than direct object pronouns.
To make things easier for you, here you have a post about how Spaniards use the indirect object pronouns.
Find a list of examples with audio to help you better understand the concepts and to practice your listening skills. Additionally, you will find a list of links where you will be able to practice the concepts explained here.
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 the Indirect Object Pronouns in Spanish?
First of all, we will start defining what a indirect object is.
The indirect object is a person who receives the action of a verb indirectly; it informs to whom or for whom something is done. In other words, the indirect object is the beneficiary or the affected one/ones by the action of the verb.
Then, an indirect object pronoun is a pronoun that replaces the indirect object.
The indirect object pronoun must match the person and number of the indirect object.
Below is a list with all the indirect object pronouns and their equivalencies in English.
|Te||To/for you (informal)|
|Le||To/for him, her, it, you (formal)|
|Os||To/for you (informal, Spain)|
|Les||To/for them, you-all (formal)|
Finding the Indirect Object
You can identify the indirect object by asking yourself to whom or for whom the action was done.
- Ella les dio el libro a sus amigos. → She gave the book to her friends.
In this example, to whom did she give the book? to her friends. Thus, her friends are the indirect object.
Indirect Object Pronouns with Prepositions
Indirect object pronouns in Spanish are frequently used with a prepositional phrase that consists of a + noun or subject pronoun.
Unlike in English, in Spanish it is common to either use the indirect object pronoun alone or the indirect object pronoun with the prepositional phrase.
- Ella le habla. → She talks to her.
- Ella le habla a su madre.→ She talks to her mother.
The prepositional phrase is used to either to clarify or for emphasis.
When using le or les the noun they refer to is unclear. We don´t know if we are talking about a woman or a man, or one person or more than one. Thus, the prepositional phrase is used to clarify.
- Les mandamos dinero a mis padres. → We send money to my parents.
- Les mandamos dinero a nuestras hijas. → We send money to our daughters.
On the other hand, when using me, te, os, and nos, the noun these pronouns refer to is usually clear. Therefore, the prepositional phrase is used to emphasize.
- No me llames a mí. → Don’t call me.
- Ella nos da las revistas a nosotros. → She gives us the magazines.
Where to Place the Indirect Object Pronouns in Spanish
In affirmative statements, negative statements, and questions, the indirect object pronoun goes before the conjugated verb.
- Alfredo te dijo el código. → Alfredo told you the code.
- Alfredo no te dijo el código. → Alfredo didn’t tell you the code.
- ¿Te dijo el código Alfredo? → Did Alfredo tell you the code?
With present participles the pronoun can go before the form of estar or attached to the end of the present participle.
- Nos está preparando la cena. → He/she is preparing dinner for us.
- Está preparándonos la cena. → He/she is preparing dinner for us.
VERB + INFINITIVE
In verb + infinitive constructions the pronoun can either go before the first verb or attached to the infinitive.
- Le tienes que pedir permiso. → You have to ask him for permission.
- Tienes que pedirle permiso. → You have to ask him for permission.
With commands, the pronouns gets tacked on the end of the verb in affirmative commands, and placed before the conjugated verb in negative commands.
- ¡Escríbele ahora! → Write him now!
- ¡No le escribas! → Don´t write him!
Where to Practice the Indirect Object Pronouns
Gap Fill Exercises
- Choose the correct pronoun and form of the verb
- Pronombres de complemento indirecto
- The Ultimate Spanish Review and Practice – Exercise Q from chapter 19 (page 264).
- Spanish Demystified – Oral Practice 2 from chapter12 (page 233).
- Spanish Demystified – Written Practice 2 and 3 from chapter 12 (pages 236-237).
- The Ultimate Spanish Review and Practice – Exercise P, R, S, T and V from chapter 19 (pages 263, 264, 266 and 267).
- The Ultimate Spanish Review and Practice – Exercise U chapter 19 (page 266).
- Choose the correct sentence
Hopefully this post helps you understand indirect object pronouns in Spanish.
I recommend that you practice with the examples here and try to make up some on your own. Also, take a look at 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.
In addition, we can practice in the comment section below by answering the following questions and filling the blank spaces:
- ¿Haces el almuerzo a los invitados?
- Sí, ___ hago el almuerzo.
- No, no ___ hago el almuerzo.
- Voy a decir ___ la verdad a mi hermano.
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