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Published on: Grammar Bites

Me, te, lo, la… how do we use these objects pronouns?

Direct objects and their corresponding pronouns are an essential part of the Spanish language. Learn how to use them properly with this easy guide:

What is a direct object?

A direct object is the name we give to either an object or person who is directly impacted by the action of the verb:

  • María compró el libroMaría bought the book.
  • Juan prepara la cenaJuan prepares dinner.
  • María llamó a Juan. María called Juan.

The direct object answers the question “¿qué?” (what?) or “¿a quién?” (whom?) when we wish to know what the doer of the action (sujeto/subject) is doing:

  • ¿Qué compró María? María compró el libroWhat did María buy? María bought the book.
  • ¿Qué prepara Juan? Juan prepara la cenaWhat does Juan prepares? Juan prepares dinner.
  • ¿A quién llamó María? María llamó a JuanWhom did María call? María called Juan.
Direct object pronouns

To avoid repetition within a conversation or text, we can replace the full version of the direct object for their corresponding pronoun:

Person Number of the object pronoun
1st person, singular María me conoce (a mí). María knows me.
2nd person, singular María te conoce (a ti). María knows you.
3rd person, singular María lo/la conoce (a él, a ella, a usted). María knows you.
1st person, plural María nos conoce (a nosostros/nosotras). María knows us.
2nd person, plural María os conoce (a vosotros). María knows you.
3rd person, plural María los/las conoce (a ellos, a ellas, a ustedes). María knows them.

 

In Spanish, direct object pronouns vary according to both gender and number of the noun referred to.

Notice also that the direct object pronoun goes before the verb. 

  • María compra la camisa. –> María la compra. María buys the shirt. –> María bought it.
  • María compra el billete. –> María lo compró. María buys the ticket. –> María bought it.
  • María compra las camisas. –> María las compra. María buys the shirts. –> María bought them.
  • María compró los billetes. –> María los compra. María buys the tickets. –> María bought them.
Please note that:

The form se is used when the direct object pronoun and the subject are the same. This form is equivalent in English to the reflexive pronoun (-self).

  • María se peina. Maria combs her hair (literally – María combs herself).
  • Las niñas se peinan. The girls comb their hair (literally – The girls comb themselves).

Compared the above examples with the following ones where the subject and direct object are different:

  • María peina a su niña. –> María la peina. María combs her daughter. –> Maria combs her.
  • Las niñas peinan a sus muñecas. –> Las niñas las peinan. The girls comb their dolls. –> The girls comb them.

Direct object pronouns can be repeated if the speaker whishes to put emphasis on it.

  • María me conoce. María knows me. (Just a fact).
  • María me conoce a míMaría knows me (as opposed to other people).
Activities for private students & members:

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