Direct Object Pronouns – Spanish Hackers

Direct Object Pronouns

By Anthony / February 13, 2016

In most of my grammar posts I start off by telling how a particular grammar point was hard for me at first but then became easier as my Spanish progressed.  Well this time I'm not going to do that because the truth is I never had that many problems with using direct object pronouns in Spanish.

They're pretty straightforward.  Once you know what they are and how to use them you should have no problem incorporating them into your Spanish. 

Here's Jordan again from Gringo Español on how to use these pronouns

What is a direct object?

How we use direct objects in English

A direct object is the person, place, or thing the receives the action in a sentence.  For example:​

I ate the taco​.

In this instance the direct objection would be the taco because it is what is being eaten. Let's try another:

Tom kissed Penélope.

In this case Penélope would be the direct object because she is the one getting kissed.  Not hard right?

Now what if we took the same first sentence and added another action to it:

I stole the taco then I ate the taco.

Now technically I guess this sentence is correct, but it sounds weird because we're saying taco twice. The sentence would sound much more natural if we traded one of these tacos (the direct object) for another word (a pronoun):

I stole your taco then I ate it.

*No tacos were stolen during the writing of this post

See what we did there? Instead of having to say taco every time we can use the word it. We can do something similar with the second sentence substituting Penélope for the pronoun her:

Tom kissed her.

How we use direct objects in Spanish

In Spanish direct object pronouns are used in a similar way with one key difference: Instead of putting the direct object behind the verb, in Spanish we usually put in front of the verb.

Here's our taco and kissing sentences again, but this time in Spanish:

Yo comí el taco.

Tom besó Penélope.

Now just like we did in English we can substitute the direct object nouns for pronouns only this time we put them in front of the verb:

Yo lo comí.

Tom la besó.

In English we only have 4 direct object pronouns (it, he, she, them, & us) but in Spanish there are 8:

Spanish Direct Object Pronouns


Me ( yo )

Te ( tú )

Lo (él, masculine usted, & masculine "it")

La (ella , feminine usted, & feminine "it')

Los (Ellos, Ustedes, & "those things" masculine)​

Las (Ellas, Ustedes, & "those things" feminine)​

nos (nosotros "us')

Vos (vosotros -Spain only-)

Using DOP's with genders

Anytime you are using me, te, nos, or vos you don't have to worry about gender.  However when you find yourself using the other four pronouns the gender will matter. Going back to our Spanish examples sentences: 

Yo comí el taco.

Yo lo comí.

Tom besó Penélope.

Tom la besó.

Notice which pronoun we use depends on the gender of the direct object. ​Taco is a masculine noun, so we'll use lo.  Penélope is a woman so we'll use the la pronoun instead of her name. When using the pronouns lo, la, los, or las the gender should always match the gender of the direct object.

Using DOP's with more than one verb

If we run into a sentence that has more than one verb like:​

No puedo beber el refresco. ( I can't drink the soda)

We would still be completely correct if we put the pronoun before the first verb:

No lo puedo beber. ( I can't drink it .)

But because there are two verbs we also have the option of putting the pronoun behind the second infinitive verb:

No puedo beberlo. ( I can't drink it .)

Both are correct. NEVER put the pronoun between the two verbs.

Conclusion

These pronouns are pretty easy to use once you understand the rules behind them.  They also make your spoken Spanish sound that much more natural when you use them right!

About the author

Anthony

Coffee drinker, Spanish speaker, habitual traveler, taking life one beautiful day at a time.

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