Finding Hidden Pronouns in Spanish Sentences - dummies

Finding Hidden Pronouns in Spanish Sentences

Pronouns are pretty easy to find in English sentences, but Spanish pronouns often seem hidden from view. Fortunately, finding this elusive part of speech in Spanish is actually pretty easy if you know just how to look for it.

  • Figure out the placement of a pronoun in an English sentence.

    In an English declarative sentence, you always use a noun or pronoun with a verb. For example, in English, you say I sing, you sing, and we sing. The pronouns appear with the verb to indicate who (or what) is performing the action. In the sentence They are on vacation (Están de vacaciones), they are performing the action of going on vacation.

  • Recognize that, in Spanish, you can drop the pronoun.

    Because each pronoun has its own verb form, Spanish generally omits the pronoun. So don’t try to look for something that isn’t there. For example, if you were to try to pick out the pronoun in the sentence Voy al cine (I go to the movies), you’d eventually notice that the sentence contains a verb (voy) and a prepositional phrase (al cine). There’s no pronoun in sight.

  • Use the verb form to identify the right pronoun.

    Spanish verbs indicate the pronoun through their conjugation; English verbs don’t. In Spanish, you say canto (kahn-toh; I sing), cantas (kahn-tahs; you sing), and cantamos (kahn-tah-mohs; we sing). Therefore, Spanish-speakers can understand you clearly even if you use only the verb.

    The correct pronoun isn’t always clear from the verb form. For example, in the sentence Trabaja en ventas (He/She/It works in sales.), you know that someone or something is working in sales, but you don’t know whether it’s a woman, a man, a cat, or a computer. However, you can generally make a good guess about the intended pronoun simply from the verb form.