User:Robbiemuffin/Spanish pronouns


In this document I make the assumption that everyone should first learn the basic objects of the regional dialect that they are studying. This includes only teaching the t-form of objects with t/v distinction. Since the object model in general latin american spanish is simpler than iberian spanish, «vosotros» is excluded. You can always go back later and learn the full compliment of objects, including their t/v forms («usted», «vosotros»), and even the more exotic forms («su merced») after you have learned the basics.

Regional DifferencesEdit

«vos» - when used in Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, and in some (rare) communities in the rest of south america, is a 2nd person singular which replaces «tú» so thoroughly that some people may not know the conjugations for «tú». It's conjugation is different in Argentina from in Chile. In Colombia, Venezuela, and many other communities in south america, and in some (rare) communities in central america, the caribbean, and Mexico, it is used in place of «tú», but carries the conjugation for «tú».

«Usted» is used as a v-form (formal). In most of latin america, questions and "safe" addresses to strangers are done with «Usted», as are anything you would want to say with formal recognition to the addressee (as a student to their teacher, as from parent to their child, or just for special emphasis). Common addresses to stranger, communication between non-strangers, and general casual communication uses the t-form «tú».

«Ustedes» is used with exclusivity in latin america. There exists some hypercorrection in pronouns to conform to «vosotros» throughout latin america, so that sentences with «os...ustedes» are accepted as learned and correct, where in iberian spanish «os...vosotros» or «le...» would actually be used. In iberian spanish, the t/v distnction occurs in the plural: «vosotros» is t-form and «ustuedes» is v-form.

In almost every place you would use «ello» you can use «él», so it is preferred in any sentence where there is no other «él». Where there is another «él», a determiner like «eso»/«este» can be used instead. Thus, «ello» is a peculiarity: it exists, but it is amost never spoken.

At a glanceEdit

To bootstrap your spanish, it's probably best to skip over much of the detail provided here, and simply remember the primary objects in the accusative case (direct objects) and those in nominative case (subjects). Here are those pronouns, at-a-glance:

Person Case
Nominative Accusative
1st    yo me
1st pl.   nosotros nos
2nd    te
2nd pl.   ustedes se
3rd    él, ella lo, la
3rd pl.   ellos, ellas los, las

  • «nosotras» (omitted in the table above) and «ellas» imply all females, while «nosotros» and «ellos» can either be all males or a mixed-gender group.
  • Under certain circumstances, «le» replaces «lo» or «la», and «les» replaces «los» or «las». See Object of the sentence, below.

Verb-phrase formation follows the schema:

verb-phase construction schema

The pronoun casesEdit

The Nominative caseEdit

see below

The Accusative caseEdit

see below

The Prepositional caseEdit

see below

The Dative caseEdit

see below

Parts of sentenceEdit

Subject pronounsEdit

Spanish is a pro-drop language and often times you simply don't include the subject in the sentence, because the conjugation of the verb makes it clear. It is often included for clarity, in sentences with multiple phrases and different subjects.

  • (yo) Te amo.

It is also included for emphasis, to distinguish between a simple indication and a more specific selection.

  • La llevé. ("I drove her." -- as a standard, indicative sentence.)
  • Fui yo quien la llevó. ("It was I that drove her." -- as opposed to someone else.)

This sort of specificity can be made more consise than in english, even if here it sounds a little inarticulate:

  •  – Yo la llevé.

Nominative caseEdit

The nominative case pronouns (subject pronouns) of spanish are as follows:

Person Number
non-numerical singular plural
1st   yo  nosotros  
2nd   ustedes
3rd ♀   ella ellas
3rd ♂   él ellos
  3rd mixed ♂♀       ellos
indefinite   se

  • When a third party is a group of nouns including both genders, the masculine is used. As is reflected in the table.
  • «tú» is, in many places throughout central and south america, considered an alternate for the more usual «vos». In argentina and chile it carries distinct conjugations. Elsewhere, «vos» is conjugated like «tú». See voseo.
  • «Usted» is the v-form 2nd person singular. It has its own, distinct conjugation.
  • «vosotros» is the t-form 2nd person plural, applicable only in spain. It has its own, distinct conjugation.
  • «ello» as a sujbect pronoun is the male lexemic counterpart to «ella». It is rarely used. It used used to impart extra respect, or for an impersonal subject, or in place of «eso» where the determiner cannot be used – Ello y lo otro tendrán suma importancia en poco tiempo.

  • «se» as a subject pronoun only occurs in sentences with pro-drop – (se) Hace lluvia. or  – (se) Nevó ayer. (When "it rains", there is no other thing that rains, it's always the same "it" -- And spanish only includes subject pronouns for clarity. So, you never really see this «se» included in the sentence.) The conjugation is as 3rd person singular.

Direct objectEdit

While spanish is not an analytic language, and so its are relatively positionally free, norms of usage and syntactic rules allow three places for the direct object in its verb-phrase constructions.

The typical form is with the direct object prepended to the verb.Edit

  • Te amo.

Despite the fact that linguists usually classify spanish as an SVO language, this SOV-like form is long since the dominant form. This is because, the subject is simply dropped. Were it included, it would prepend to the object.

The second form adds the direct object as a suffix to the verb.Edit

It is particularly used for imperatives:

  • Dime lo.

As above, whenever the object comes before the verb, the indirect object will prepend before it; whenever the direct object comes after the verb, be it as a suffix or as a prepositional pronoun, the indirect object will append after it. The main exception to this rule is with verbs used reflexively:

  • Me lavé las manos.

Which transliterates to "I washed the hands myself" but "myself" does not only modify the verb, as in english (gloss: "look mom, I washed my hands myself!") but to the object (gloss: "I washed the hands (which hands?) myself") as well.

The last form emphasizes the object in the verb-phrase by placing it prepositionally after the verb.Edit

It is because this formation is being used that spanish will place «a» before personal nouns in sentences like «Le dije a Peter todo.» ("I told Peter all about it"), which looks odd when translated overly literally "I told to Peter..." and almost comic with verbs that invoke a "from" sense in english, like "take" ("I take to Peter to...").

Unlike the other forms, which use the accusative case, this uses the prepositional case. It is typically used to clarify the object.

  • ¡Basta! no puedo vender ninguna, porque se las dí a ustedes las últimas.

Accusative caseEdit

The accusative case pronouns of spanish are:

Person Number
non-numeric singular plural
1st     me  nos  
2nd     te  se
3rd ♀     la  las
3rd ♂     lo  los
3rd mixed ♂♀      los
  3rd human sentence object     le  les
impersonal/indefinite   se  se  se

  • «se» in the third person is used for phrases like "so they say" («se dice» -- literally "one says it") or "spanish is spoken (here)" «se hable español», literally "one speaks it in spanish". It is also used reflexively. Unlike in the nominative, it can have a specific number associated with it – Se venden varias plazas de garaje. versus – Se hablará del asunto en la reunión de vecinos.

  • «se» can also be an indefinite direct object. This basically occurs in one specific use where there is a reciprocal relationship between third parties. – Jaime y Nuria se llaman a diario. (Jaime le llama a Nuria y Nuria lo llama a Jaime).

  • «ello» is another male counterpart to «la». It is rarely used. It refers to a previously discussed topic, or it stands in place of «todo ellos» where the singular form imports extra respect or importance. – Hay que poner ello en su sitio.

  • In much of latin america, the iberian «os» can stand in for «se» for second person plural. It is seen as a "genuine" form of spanish, somewhat like the preservation of "I" where in natural speech "me" would usually replace it in english. Some hypercorrection even occurs, as in: – Os di a ustedes las ultimas boletas. Where «Os» should properly be «Les».

Object of the sentenceEdit

The object of the sentence is the direct object of the primary verb in the sentence.

  • Te quiero, no la quiero.
  • El coche será manejado por mi padre.

When the object of a sentence is in it's accusative case, when it is in 3rd person and is a human, it is to be replaced with «le», and «les» for the plural. You can see this in the above chart. Nonetheless, in casual speech and older text, «lo»/«la» and «los»/«las» will often be used in their stead. (See loismo.)

The use of «le» has it's problems. There is an inherit, if minute and accidental (it's actually gender neutral), masculine quality to the word. It is a change to the spanish language that only occurred relatively recently, and for most of the hispanophone world it has had to "trickle down" from the academic to the family creating a bit of a register-specific use of the pronoun. Worst, the same actual thing, noless represented by the same part of speech (direct object), can be represented by two different pronoun forms in the same sentence. The effect is, people tend to avoid the uses below:

  • Le voy a decir a Andrea que Luis no invitarla. / Le voy a decir a Andrea que Luis no la a invitar.
  • Le quiero. (a ella)

Practically, when the sentence is being made carefully, for precision, when there is more than one 3rd person in the sentence, or where «le»/«les» has already been invoked in a previous sentence, it is likely to be used - in all other sentences, it is safe to continue to use the gendered personal pronouns.

Prepositional caseEdit

The prepositional case pronouns of spanish are:

Person Number
singular plural
1st    nosotros  
2nd ti  ustedes
3rd ♀ ella  ellas
3rd ♂ él  ellos
  3rd mixed ♂♀  ellos
3rd neuter ello  ellos
3rd reflexive  

  • The third person neuter form is rarely used in conversation, as any conventionally neuter 3rd person can instead use the masculine or feminine gender (technically all words are masculine or feminine, whether someone prefers to impart masculinity to an inanimate object is a matter of taste). Still, of all the uses of «ello», the prepositional case probably is the most typical. – Cuenta con ello.

  • «sí» is a relatively rare form, as it's only use is when the object is both prepositional and reflexive – Cada uno para .

Forms with «con»Edit

The preposition «con» is special. Whereever you would normally use «sí», «mí», or «ti», you instead use an abbreviated form: «consigo», «conmigo», «contigo», respectively.

  • Deberes para consigo mismo. ("Duties to oneself.")
  • ¿Te quieres comer conmigo?
  • Ten contigo estos presentes.

Indirect objectsEdit

The dative case pronouns (indirect objects) of spanish are:

Person Number
singular plural
1st   me  nos  
2nd   te  se  
3rd human   le  les  
3rd inhuman   se  se  

  • In much of latin america, the iberian «os» can stand in for «se» for second person plural. It is seen as a "genuine" form of spanish, somewhat like the preservation of "I" where in natural speech "me" would usually replace it in english. Some hypercorrection even occurs, as in: – Os di a ustedes las ultimas boletas. Where «Os» should properly be «Les».