Placing Spanish Object Pronouns Correctly

Adding object pronouns to your Spanish vocabulary can spice up your language skills in no time. A pronoun is basically a replacement word for a noun. This pronoun helps you avoid unnecessary, continuous repetition of the noun, which allows for a more colloquial, free-flowing conversational tone when you’re speaking or writing. Don’t be tricked by these pronouns, though; always remember that the verb in your sentence must agree with the subject, not the object pronoun.

But first you need to be able to know how to place Spanish object pronouns accurately. Follow these guidelines for a little help.

  • Generally, object pronouns go before the conjugated verb.

    For example, les goes before cuentas in the sentence Siempre les cuentas chistes (You always tell them jokes).

  • You can choose where to place the object pronoun in certain situations.

    In sentences with two verbs that follow one subject or in sentences with a gerund, you have the choice of placing the object pronoun before the conjugated verb or after it, attached to the infinitive or gerund.

    When you attach the pronoun to the gerund, an accent is required on the stressed vowel. In general, to correctly place the accent, you count back three vowels and add the accent. Also, remember that negatives go before the pronoun when it precedes the verb. So the sentence No lo estoy haciendo (I’m not doing it) becomes No estoy haciéndolo (I’m not doing it). To attach the pronoun to the infinitive, simply tag it on the end, as in Quiero hacerlo (I want to do it).

  • Object pronoun placement in a command depends on whether the command is negative or affirmative.

    In a negative command, the object pronoun precedes the verb: No la prepare (Don’t prepare it.) In an affirmative command, however, the object pronoun must follow the verb and be attached to it. An accent mark is normally required on the stressed vowel, but if there are only two vowels, no accent is needed. To properly place the accent, count back three vowels and add it. So the Spanish translation of the affirmative command Prepare it is Prepárela.

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