Indirect Object Pronouns

Indirect objects tell to whom or for whom something is done. Just like direct object pronouns replace direct objects, indirect object pronouns are the replacements for indirect objects, which are always personal nouns.

Below you can find the chart which separates the indirect object pronouns into 1st, 2nd, and 3rd person as well as singular or plural.

Notice that the English definition for each indirect object includes to/for since they always indicate where the object is going.

SubjectSingularPlural
1st personme  (to/for me)nos  (to/for us)
2nd personte  (to/for you informal)os  (to/for you informal)
3rd personle  (to/for it, him, her, formal you )les  (to/for them, formal you)

Notice that the 1st and 2nd person pronouns are the same as the direct object pronouns and that the 3rd person pronouns (le and les) do not indicate any gender.

In general the indirect object of a sentence will ALWAYS use an indirect object pronoun whether or not there is also an indirect object noun phrase. To find the indirect object phrase in a sentence, ask “to whom?” or “for whom?”

In the example below, a Juan is the indirect object phrase. The indirect object pronoun le is also used, but is not translated directly.

Le tiró la pelota a Juan.
He threw the ball to Juan.
 
Le tiró la pelota.
He threw the ball to him.
 

Even without a Juan, le still indicates to whom the direct object (the ball) is thrown, and is translated as to him. However, because 3rd person indirect object pronouns do not indicate gender, this sentence could also mean:

  • He threw the ball to her.
  • He threw the ball to it.
  • He threw the ball to you. (singular, formal)

Because the 3rd person indirect object pronoun is gender neutral, it is common to maintain the indirect object phrase in the sentence for clarification.

You can find the indirect object in the following sentence by asking for whom did he buy a rose? The answer is for me. So you will use the indirect object pronoun me. You can also write this sentence without the prepositional phrase a mí and it means the same thing.

Me compró una rosa a mí.
He bought a rose for me.
 
Me compró una rosa.
He bought a rose for me.
 

They told the story to whom? To us. So you will use the indirect object pronoun nos. You can write this sentence without the prepositional phrase para nosotros and it will mean the same thing as well.

Nos contaron la historia a nosotros.
They told the story to us.
 
Nos contaron la historia.
They told the story to us.
 

Common Verbs

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

SpanisEnglish
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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