(Direct object pronouns)


A direct object is the direct recipient of the action in a sentence.  For example:  The man followed the woman.  In this sentence the woman is the direct object because she is the one being followed.  The man is the subject because he is doing the following.

Direct objects in Spanish are the same as direct objects in English.  Here is the example of the above in Spanish:   El hombre siguió a la mujer (In Spanish, when the direct object is a person, it is marked with the personal a).

To avoid repetition, we use pronouns to replace certain words-  Using the same example, we would replace woman with her:  The man followed her.

In Spanish we also use pronouns to replace certain words to avoid repetition:  El hombre la siguió.  Here, la replaces mujer.

How do I know who or what the direct object is?

First, decide who or what is the subject of a sentence.  Remember that Spanish verb conjugations allow us to know right away what the subject is without naming it.    In the above example, we know right away that mujer is the direct object since the word is marked with the personal a.

Here is another example (the subject is underlined and the direct object is italicized):

El niño lee muchos libros.


How do I know which direct object pronoun to use?

In English there are seven direct object pronouns (me, you, him/her/it, us, you all,

them).  In Spanish there are also seven:

me                                   me

nos                                  us

te                                    you


lo/la                       him/her/it

los/las             you all, them


The pronoun you use depends on the person (1st, 2nd, 3rd) and number (singular, plural) of the object.  In the third person the pronoun must also agree in gender (masculine, feminine).

In our example, mujer is 3rd person, singular, feminine.  Looking at the chart above, you can see that la is the 3rd person, singular, feminine.


Where does the direct object pronoun go in the sentence?

In English it comes immediately after the verb:  The man followed her.

In Spanish it goes before the conjugated verb:  El hombre la siguió.

It Spanish it can also be attached to the infinitive:  El hombre quiere seguirla. Note that in this last example another verb has been added, (quiere) in order to show how this word order looks.  You CANNOT add an infinitive just to make it work this way – the sentence must already require the infinitive.*

You must be able to recognize both options in Spanish.  Also, remember that direct object pronouns work exactly the same in every tense.


More examples:


Before the conjugated verb

Attached to the infinitive

No te puedo llamar esta noche.

No puedo llamarte esta noche.

Mis papás me quieren mucho

Mis papás quieren protegerme.

¿No los llamaste?

¿No pudiste llamarlos?

Nos invitaron a la fiesta.

No quisieron invitarnos