Direct Object Pronouns – Spanish For Beginners

We know how tricky Spanish grammar can be. Direct Object Pronouns are a particular aspect of Spanish grammar that many learners struggle with. In this article, we break things down clearly and concisely, showing you how easy it actually is to learn direct object pronouns in Spanish.

Believe it or not, direct object pronouns in Spanish are fairly simple. This handy video from Spanish tutor James explains how to talk about objects directly, for those who prefer an audio-visual experience. This clip is taken from Spanish for Beginners with James. Below the video, you will find a table of direct object pronouns.

Read on to find out what direct object pronouns in Spanish are, when to use them, and how to put them into practice!

English Direct Object Pronouns Spanish Direct Object Pronouns
It Te (tú)
He (masculine) Me (yo)
She (feminine) Lo (él / masculine usted / masculine “it”)/td>
We La (ella / feminine usted / feminine “it”)
Them Los (ellos / ustedes / masculine “those things”)
Us Las (ellas / ustedes / feminine “those things”)
Nos (nosotros / “us”)
Vos (vosotros – used in Spain only)

First Things First – What Are Direct Objects? (English Context)

Put as simply as possible, a direct object is a place, person, or thing, to which actions can occur. Here is an example sentence:

Joel grabbed the football.

In the above, the football is the direct object, with the action being performed by Joel, who is grabbing it. Let’s try another…

Joel grabbed the football, then he kicked the football.

Twice, the direct object is the football, but because we’ve repeated it, the sentence sounds a little clunky and unnatural. That’s where the direct object pronoun comes in!

Joel grabbed the football, then he kicked it.

The football is still the direct object, but the pronoun ‘it’ comes in to represent it for a second time, allowing for a much clearer and concise sentence. What about if we throw another character into the mix?

Joel grabbed the football from Henry, then kicked it back to him.

In this instance, it is a direct pronoun, referring to the football, but ‘him’ is also a direct pronoun, referring to Henry. Get it? Now let’s figure it out in Spanish!

Direct Objects – How Do They Work In Spanish?

Although en Español, direct object pronouns work in much the same way as the English examples provided above, there is one significant difference – rather than appearing after the verb, for Spanish, the direct object comes before it.

For example…

Joel grabbed the football and kicked it

turns into

Joel aggaró el balón y lo pateó

with lo being the direct object pronoun meaning “it”

I ate the burrito becomes Me comi el burrito

And when you throw a direct object into the mix, you get

Me lo comi which means I ate it, with lo being the direct object pronoun again

Direct Object Pronouns and Multiple Verbs

But what about if a sentence has more than one verb? Then what?!

First off, it is vital to remember that no matter what, you should never position the pronoun in between the two verbs, as this is always going to be incorrect.

Take the Sentence

Yo no como carne, or I don’t eat meat

Your verbs here are no and como, and the direct object ‘meat’ comes afterward

With a direct object pronoun in place of carne/meat the sentence becomes

No me lo como or I don’t eat it

In this, the verbs are still no and como, but the direct object pronoun ‘lo’ comes before the verb.

However, as there are two verbs, you would also be correct if you said

No me como lo

With lo, the direct object pronoun, coming after the verb.

Direct Object Pronouns and Gender

When it comes to the main direct object pronouns, aka Te, Me, Vos and Nos, there’s no need to panic, as these DOPs have nothing to do with gender. However, as for the other four – Lo, La, Los and Las – masculine and feminine forms are important.

Whether you use lo or la depends on the gender that has been assigned to the direct object – for instance, burrito is a masculine noun, so when you say you ate it, me lo comi, you use the masuculine pronoun lo.

Let’s look at it another way – if you were going to say, for instance

Max kissed Sophie

that would be

Max besó Sophie

Switching to

Max kissed her

you would instead say

Max la besó

with la being the feminine pronoun, because Sophie is a girl.

Distinguishing between gender is fairly straightforward – words ending in an ‘a’ are usually feminine, where those ending in ‘e’ are masculine. That being said, there are, of course, exceptions to this rule. It’s a good place to start for beginners though!

The most important thing to remember is that, whenever you’re using the pronouns lo, los, la and las, the gender of the pronoun must always match up with the gender of the direct object.

Spanish Direct Object Pronouns: In Summary

When it comes to language learning, especially Spanish, getting both the right pronoun and the correct gender for that pronoun (depending on the object, place, or person being referred to) will make your spoken word sound much more natural.

As long as you’re careful to follow the pre-established rules, particularly regarding where the pronoun should be placed in the sentence (which is only tricky when you throw multiple verbs into the mix) then you’ll be absolutely fine!

If my written explanation is going over your head, go back to the video linked at the start for a spoken description that may be easier to understand.

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