Using Spanish Indirect Object Pronouns - dummies

Using Spanish Indirect Object Pronouns

By Gail Stein

Indirect object pronouns can help your Spanish sound more conversational and free flowing. They answer the question “To or for whom is the subject doing something?” So how can you weave indirect object pronouns into your vocab? Start by getting to know the basics.

Indirect object nouns and pronouns refer only to people (and beloved pets). An indirect object pronoun can replace an indirect object noun, but Spanish also uses it when the indirect object noun is mentioned. The indirect object pronoun never agrees with the noun to which it refers. And just like with direct object pronouns, indirect object pronouns generally are placed before the conjugated verb. The following table lists the various Spanish indirect object pronouns.

Spanish Indirect Object Pronouns
Singular Pronouns Meaning Plural Pronouns Meaning
Me to/for me nos to/for us
Te to/for you (familiar) os to/for you (familiar)
Le to/for him, her, you
les to/for them, you

Here are two ways you can use indirect object pronouns:

  • ¿Me dices la verdad? (Are you telling me the truth?)

  • Les doy un abrazo. (I give them a hug.)

If you can use the words to or for in an English sentence before a reference to a person — no matter how awkward the construction may seem — you must use an indirect object pronoun in your Spanish sentence. For example, because you can use to before you in the sentence I want to show [to] you this photo, the Spanish translation looks like Quiero mostrarte esta foto (keeehroh mohs-trahr-teh ehs-tah foh-toh).

Another clue that may indicate you need an indirect object pronoun is the use of the preposition a (ah), al (ahl), a la (ah lah), a los (ah lohs), or a las (a lahs)), which mean to or for, followed by the name of or reference to a person. So another way to say the sentence Yo le escribo a Rosa (I write to Rosa) would be to say Yo le escribo (I write to her).