Indirect Object Pronouns

Quick Answer

An indirect object pronoun (un pronombre de objeto indirecto) tells you to whom or for whom something is done.

The table below shows the different forms indirect objects can take in Spanish.

First personme  (to/for me)nos  (to/for us)
Second personte  (to/for informal you)os  (to/for formal you)
Third personle  (to/for it, him, her, formal you)les  (to/for them, formal you)

Notice that none of the indirect pronouns vary according to gender.

Finding the Indirect Object Pronoun

You can find the indirect object in a sentence by asking yourself to whom or for whom an action was done. For example, to find the indirect object in the following sentence , you could ask yourself For whom did Gabriel buy a rose? The answer is For Anita. Therefore, the indirect object is Anita, and the matching indirect object pronoun is le.

Gabriel le compró una rosa a Anita.
Gabriel bought a rose for Anita.
Gabriel le compró una rosa.
Gabriel bought a rose for her.

Using Indirect Object Pronouns and Indirect Objects Together

In Spanish, it's common for both an indirect object pronoun and the noun to which it refers to appear together. In the example below, Juan is the indirect object. The indirect object pronoun le can be used with the indirect object (as in the first example), or without it (as in the second example).

Samuel le tiró la pelota a Juan.
Samuel threw the ball to Juan.
Samuel le tiró la pelota.
Samuel threw the ball to him.

Because the third person indirect object pronoun is gender neutral, it is common to maintain the indirect object phrase in the sentence for clarification.

Even without a Juan, le still indicates to whom the direct object (la pelota) is thrown. However, because third person indirect object pronouns do not indicate gender, this sentence could also mean:

  • Samuel threw the ball to her.
  • Samuel threw the ball to it.
  • Samuel threw the ball to you.

To avoid confusion, Spanish speakers will often clarify to whom a pronoun refers by using both the indirect object and the indirect object pronoun.

Verbs that Take an Indirect Object

Below is a list of verbs that often take a person as an indirect object in Spanish.

comprar(le) algo
to buy something for someone
contar(le) algo
to tell something to someone
dar(le) algo
to give something to someone
decir(le) algo
to say something to someone
escribir(le) algo
to write something to someone
mandar(le) algo
to send something to someone
mostrar(le) algo
to show something to someone
pedir(le) algo
to ask something of someone
regalar(le) algo
to give (a gift) to someone
servir(le) algo
to serve something to someone
traer(le) algo
to bring something to someone

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