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Possesive and Direct Object Pronouns

We know pronouns can be tricky, so let’s take a look at two very frequently used kind of pronouns!

Possesive pronouns:

We use the possessive pronoun when the noun that they refer to does not appear in the sentence, and they must agree in number and gender with the replaced noun.

These pronouns are written with accents and are almost always preceded by the definite article (el mío – mine, la mía – mine, etc.); only in affirmative sentences with the verb ser (to be) is the definite article optional.

Masculine Feminine
Belonging to the speaker el mío / los míos la mía / las mías
Belonging to the listener el tuyo / los tuyos la tuya / las tuyas
Belonging to a third person (him/her/you formal) el suyo / los suyos la suya / las suyas
Belonging to both the speaker & the listener el nuestro / los nuestros la nuestra / las nuestras
Belonging to the listener & at least one more person el vuestro / los vuestros la vuestra / las vuestras
Belonging to a group that does not include the speaker or the listener el suyo / los suyos la suya / las suyas

 

  • No encuentro mi libro. ¿Puedo usar el tuyo? I can’t find my book. Can I use yours?
  • ¿Estas son las llaves de Juan? No, son las mías. Are these Juan’s keys? No, those are mine.
  • ¿Cuál es su coche? El coche verde en la esquina es (el) nuestro. Which one is your car? The green car on the corner is ours.

Direct Object Pronouns

Direct objects receive the action of the verb and it can be either an object or person. The direct object answers the question “¿qué?” (what?) or “¿a quién?” (whom?) when we wish to know what the subject of the sentence is doing: 

  • ¿Qué compró María? María compró el libroWhat did María buy? María bought the book.

Generally, we tend to replace the full version of the direct object for a pronoun. Direct Object pronouns vary according to both gender and number of the noun referred to and they go before the verb:

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.
  • María compró el libro ayer. –> María lo compró ayer. María bought the book yesterday. –> María bought it yesterday.
  • María compró las faldas ayer. –> María las compró ayer. María bought the skirts yesterday. –> María bought them yesterday.

The object pronouns lo, la, los and las are used when the object pronoun is not the same as the subject pronoun. If they are the same, we use the pronoun se. This form is equivalent in English to the reflexive pronoun (-self):

  • María peina a su niña –> María la peina. María combs her daughter’s hair. —> (literally  – María combs her.)
  • María peina su cabello –> María se peina. Maria combs her hair (literally – María combs herself).

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