What is a direct object pronoun?
Personal pronouns: direct object - Easy Learning Grammar Spanish
A direct object pronoun is a word such as me, him, us and them, which is used instead of the noun to stand in for the person or thing most directly affected by the action expressed by the verb.
1 Using direct object pronouns
- Direct object pronouns stand in for nouns when it is clear who or what is being talked about, and save having to repeat the noun.
|I’ve lost my glasses. Have you seen them?|
|‘Have you met Jo?’ – ‘Yes, I really like her!’|
- Here are the Spanish direct object pronouns:
|te||you (relating to tú)||os||you (relating to vosotros/vosotras)|
you (relating to usted – masculine)
you (relating to ustedes – masculine)
you (relating to usted – feminine)
you (relating to ustedes – feminine)
|Te quiero.||I love you.|
|No los toques.||Don’t touch them.|
- Note that you cannot use the Spanish direct object pronouns on their own without a verb or after a preposition such as a or de.
- For more information on Pronouns after prepositions, see Pronouns after prepositions.
2 Word order with direct object pronouns
- The direct object pronoun usually comes BEFORE the verb.
|¿Las ve usted?||Can you see them?|
|¿No me oís?||Can’t you hear me?|
|Tu hija no nos conoce.||Your daughter doesn’t know us.|
|¿Lo has visto?||Have you seen it?|
- In orders and instructions telling someone TO DO something, the pronoun joins onto the end of the verb to form one word.
|Acompáñanos.||Come with us.|
- Note that you will often need to add a written accent to preserve the spoken stress when adding pronouns to the end of verbs.
- For more information on Stress, see Stress.
- In orders and instructions telling someone NOT TO DO something, the pronoun does NOT join onto the end of the verb.
|No los toques.||Don’t touch them.|
- If the pronoun is the object of an infinitive (the to form of the verb) or a gerund (the -ing form of the verb), you always add the pronoun to the end of the verb to form one word, unless the infinitive or gerund follows another verb. Again, you may have to add a written accent to preserve the stress.
|Se fue después de arreglarlo.||He left after fixing it.|
|Practicándolo, aprenderás.||You’ll learn by practising it.|
- Where an infinitive or gerund follows another verb, you can put the pronoun either at the end of the infinitive or gerund, or before the other verb.
|Vienen a vernos or |
Nos vienen a ver.
|They are coming to see us.|
|Está comiéndolo or |
Lo está comiendo.
|He’s eating it.|
- For further information on the Order of object pronouns, see Order of object pronouns.
3 Special use of lo
- lo is sometimes used to refer back to an idea or information that has already been given. The word it is often missed out in English.
|¿Va a venir María? – No lo sé.||Is María coming? – I don’t know.|
|Habían comido ya pero no nos lo dijeron.||They had already eaten, but they didn’t tell us.|
|Yo conduzco deprisa pero él lo hace despacio.||I drive fast but he drives slowly.|
- The Spanish direct object pronouns are: me, te, lo, la in the singular, and nos, os, los, las in the plural.
- The object pronoun usually comes before the verb.
- Object pronouns are joined to the end of infinitives, gerunds or verbs instructing someone to do something.
- If an infinitive or gerund follows another verb, you can choose whether to add the object pronoun to the end of the infinitive or gerund or to put it before the first verb.
- lo is sometimes used to refer back to an idea or information that has already been given.