Double Object Pronouns

By Anthony / December 9, 2016

By this point, you have learned the ins and outs of using direct and indirect object pronouns. You have practiced (and practiced) and are ready to move on! We are going to take it one step further and talk about double object pronouns. Don’t panic! It sounds worse than it actually is.

When you talk to others in English you automatically use double object pronouns and probably don’t even realize it. It is not always something we are taught, we just pick it up while learning the language in our early years. Let’s look at an example in English using the following sentence:

Karen gave me the book yesterday

Using both direct and indirect object pronouns, our sentence would look like this:

She gave it to me yesterday

Pretty simple right? Glad you agree! Now it’s time to learn how use those double object pronouns in Spanish...

A Quick Review…

Remember that a direct object pronoun is the direct receiver of the action of the verb. It goes before a conjugated verb or at the end of an infinitive, command, or past participle. Direct object pronouns are indicated with lo, la, los, and las. For example:

Ellos tiraron la pelota

Ellos la tiraron        

(They throw the ball)

(They throw it)        

Ellos vieron a sus amigos

Ellos los vieron        

(They saw their friends)

(They saw them)          

An indirect object pronoun is the indirect receiver of the action of the verb and answers two questions:

  1. To whom?
  2. From whom?

Indirect object pronouns also go before the conjugated verb or at the end of an infinitive, command, or past participle. They are indicated with me, te, le, nos, os, and les. Here are some examples:

Yo hablo a tú

Te hablo        

(I talk to you)

(I talk to you)        

Él da un lápiz a mí

Él me da un lápiz      

(He gives a pencil to me)

(He gives me a pencil)      

What Happens When They are Both in the Same Sentence?!?

It is not uncommon to find both a direct and indirect object pronoun in the same sentence. They still function the same way, but we have to be mindful of a few rules:

  1. The indirect object pronoun always goes before the direct object pronoun in the sentence
  2. The indirect object pronouns le and les change to se when used with the direct object pronouns (lo, la, los, las)
  3. Both pronouns go before a conjugated verb or at the end of an infinitive, command, or past participle.

Let's break this down using the following sentence:

Yo doy panqueques a mis amigos (I give pancakes to my friends)

          Yo is the subject

          Panqueues is the direct object.

          “doy” is the verb.

          Mis amigos is the indirect object.

Remember that the direct object comes after the verb and the indirect object comes after the words “a” or “para.” Now we can use the same sentence and replace the objects with pronouns:

Yo se los doy (I give them those)

Let’s look at one more using the following sentence:

Ella explica el problema a mi muy bien (she explains the problem to me very well)

          Ella is the subject

          el problema is the direct object

          “explica” is the verb

          mi is the indirect object

Using the same sentence, we can insert the pronouns:

Ella me lo explica muy bien (she explains it to me very well)

To make a sentence negative simply put the “no” in front of the indirect object pronoun.

Ella no me lo explica muy bien (she didn’t explain it to me very well)

Double object pronouns can get confusing at times, but the more you practice, hear, and read Spanish, you will find yourself using them automatically. As long as you remember that the indirect object goes before the direct, and that they both go before the verb, you will be fine. Don’t be afraid to get out there and converse in Spanish, it’s the best way to learn! If you have any questions, don’t be shy! Leave a comment so that we can help!

About the author


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

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