9.1 Two Object Pronouns Used Together

When two object pronouns are used together, the indirect always precedes the direct. If meaning still remains unclear, the mnemonic device I-D (indirect, direct) may be helpful in remembering their order.

Pablo nos las dice. Pablo tells them to us (tells us them).
Mi hermano me lo contó. My brother told it to me.

Of the three types of non-prepositional object pronouns (reflexive, indirect, direct), although all three are never present in the same clause, their order is reflexive, indirect, direct (mnemonic device: R-I-D):

Guillermo se las bebió. Guillermo drank them up.

When Spanish finds two object pronouns in the third person, the indirect (the first one) changes to se. If the context is not clear, a prepositional phrase clarifies the meaning of the indirect object, If, for example, the meaning of Se la digo is not apparent in context, any of the following prepositional phrases can be added to clarify the meaning of the se: a Ud, a él, a ella, a Uds., a ellos, a ellas.

The two object pronouns are never separated (unless there are two verbs and one pronoun clearly refers to one verb, while the other does to another, eg., Me ayuda a comprenderlo [“He  helps me to understand it”]). If an infinitive or present participle is present, the pronouns either precede the conjugated verb or are attached to either of the former.

Va a dármelo. He’s going to give it to me.
Me lo va a dar. He’s going to give it to me.
Está diciéndomelo. She’s telling it to me.
Me lo está diciendo. She’s telling it to me.

In written Spanish, there is a slight preference that the pronouns be attached to the infinitive (or present participle).

Last revised on June 18, 2021.

9.2 Prepositional Object Pronouns

These tend not to cause comprehension difficulty, as all are the same as subject pronouns, with two exceptions, the meanings of which are deducible:

Es para mí. It’s for me (myself).
Es para ti. It’s for you (yourself). (fam. s.)

Note above the two possible translations. Spanish also employs prepositional reflexive pronouns, all of which correspond to the English “-self” or “-selves.” The prepositional reflexive pronouns have a different third person pronoun.

myself
ti yourself (fam.)
himself, herself, yourself (form.), itself
nosotros/-as ourselves
vosotros/-as yourselves (fam.pl.)
themselves, yourselves (form. [fam.pl. in L.A.])

Note the multiple meanings of , which are determined by the subject to which the pronoun refers.

Esto en sí no es difícil. This in itself is not difficult.
Guillermina lo repite para sí. Guillermina repeats it to herself.

may be followed by a form of mismo for emphasis or clarification.

Lo hacen por sí mismas. They’re doing it for (by) themselves. (fem.)
Lo repetí para mí mismo. I repeated it to myself.

The necessity for the prepositional reflexive pronoun object () as well as the simple prepositional pronoun object (él, ella, etc.) can be seen in the following contrast:

Eloísa lo compró para ella. Eloísa bought it for her.
Eloísa lo compró para sí (misma). Eloísa bought it for herself.

In the first example, Eloísa bought something for another person. Without the existence of , Spanish would not be able to express that “She bought it for herself.” Similarly:

Rolando lo trajo para él. Rolando brought it for him.
Rolando lo trajo para sí (mismo). Rolando brought it for himself.

When combined with preposition con, mí, ti and become conmigo, contigo (as previously seen) and consigo. The third persons singular and plural (all expressed by consigo) take on a reflexive meaning:

Gerardo está enojado consigo. Gerardo is angry with himself.
Siempre llevan al perro consigo. They always take the dog along with them (themselves).

Vocabulario básico

Verbos:

despedir (i)- to dismiss, to fire; despedirse de- to say good-bye to, to take leave of
disfrutar (de)- to enjoy
enfadarse- to get angry
enojarse- to get angry
gastar – to spend (money); to waste (time)
gozar (de)- to enjoy
ingresar- to join
reírse (i) (de)- to laugh (at)
romper(se)- to break
sangrar- to bleed
sonreír (i)- to smile

Sustantivos:

la barba- beard
el bigote- moustache
el cerebro- brain
el corazón- heart
el cuello- neck (cognate: collar)
la edad- age
la enfermedad- illness (cognate: infirmity)
el/la jefe/-a- boss, chief
la muela- tooth, molar
la muñeca- doll; wrist
el pecho- chest
el pulmón- lung (cognate: pulmonary)
la sangre- blood (cognate: sanguine)
el ser humano- human being

Adjetivo:

capaz*- capable

Preposiciones con objetos (Prepositions with Object):

conmigo- with me
contigo- with you (fam. s.)
consigo- with him (himself), with her (herself), with you (yourself) (form. s., form. pl. [fam. pl. in L.A.])

Expresiones:

a despecho de- in spite of
a pesar de- in spite of
en balde- in vain
hacerse daño – to hurt oneself
pese a- in spite of (lit.)

*The –az ending corresponds to word ending in English “-acious.” (The word “capacious” exists, with a slightly different meaning, in English.) Therefore, audaz = audacious, locuaz = loquacious, etc. Likewise, the suffix -oz corresponds to English “-ocious,” giving atroz = atrocious, precoz = precocious, etc.

Last revised on June 18, 2021.

9.3 Pronoun Summary

Study the different sets of Spanish pronouns for purposes of comparison. Focus especially on the third persons (singular: el, ella, Ud; plural: ellos, ellas, Uds.). If necessary, see sections 2.8, 6.1, 7.1, 7.4, and 9.2, which explain each type of pronoun.

Subject Reflexive Direct Indirect Prepositional Prepositional ReFlexive
yo me me
te te ti ti ti
él se lo/le e él
ella se la le ella
Ud. se lo/la/le le Ud.
Nosotros/as nos nos nos nosotros/-as nosotros/-as
vosotros/as os os os vosotros/-as vosotros/-as
ellos se los/les les ellos
ellas se las les ellas
Uds. se los/las/les les Uds.

 

Last revised on June 18, 2021.

9.4 Verbs That Take Indirect Object Pronouns

One of the more confusing, high-frequency verbs in Spanish for the non-native speaker to form as well as to comprehend is gustar, which generally translates as “to like.” However, the object liked is the grammatical subject of the sentence, for gustar literally translates as “to be pleasing.” Note the word order flexibility in the Spanish sentences:

A Donaldo le gusta nadar.

Or

Le gusta nadar a Donaldo.

Or, somewhat less common:

Nadar le gusta a Donaldo.

Donald likes swimming.

As gustar normally refers to objects, it is used almost exclusively in the third person. When the object liked is plural, you will see a plural verb:

Le gustan los deportes. She likes sports.

If the meaning of le is not obvious in context, a prepositional phrase clarifies:

A ella le gustan los deportes. She likes sports.

Although English does not have the verb “to gust,” it has its approximate opposite, “to disgust” (the more exact translation of which is the less harsh “to displease.”) To translate literally that something is “displeasing” (or “pleasing”) to someone may help to understand this construction. As many other Spanish verbs function in the same manner, it is important to recognize what is the subject (look for subject-verb agreement) and what is the indirect object (look at the pronoun or, if clarified, the prepositional object pronoun):

Nos gusta bailar el tango. We like to dance the tango.

In the above sentence, no clarification is ever necessary. If, however, one wanted to emphasize what the subject is in English, the phrase a nosotros could be added, most likely at the beginning of the sentence, but also at the end.

The sentence Le gusta el merengue is ambiguous out of context. If clarification were needed, a prepositional phrase would be added, such as:

A Ud. le gusta la música merengue. You like merengue music.

¡Ojo! When gustar is used in the first or second person, which is not the norm, it carries a sexual or romantic connotation: –¿Te gusto? (“Do you like me?” [Literally, “Am I (sexually, romantically) pleasing to you?”])

 

Other common verbs and expressions that function like gustar are:

aburrir to be boring, to bore
agradar to be pleasing
caer bien/mal to like/ dislike someone; to make a good/bad impression on someone
dar asco to be disgusting, to be repulsive
disgustar to be displeasing, to be annoying (false friend)
doler (ue) to hurt, to ache, to be painful
encantar to like very much, to love
faltar to be lacking, to be missing
interesar to be interested in, to interest
sentar (ie) bien/mal to sit well with/ not sit well with, to agree/disagree with

Vocabulario básico

Verbos:

cazar- to hunt
jubilarse- to retire
pescar- to fish
relajarse- to relax

Sustantivos:

el caballo- horse
el cuerpo- body (false friend)
el deporte- sport
el dolor- pain, sorrow
el equipo- team, set (of equipment)
el juego- game, set (of something)
la mitad- half
la oveja- sheep
el partido- game, match, political party
el pavo- turkey
la pelota- ball
la pesca- fishing
la vaca- cow

Adjetivos:

caribeño- Caribbean
gratuito- free (at no cost) (false friend)
libre- free (unoccupied; unrestrained)

Adverbio:

gratis- free (at no cost)

Expresiones:

a partir de- as of, from (such a date)
dar un paseo- to take a walk (ride)
montar en bicicleta- to ride a bicycle
montar a caballo- to ride a horse

Last revised on June 18, 2021.