Indirect Object Pronouns
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 person||me (to/for me)||nos (to/for us)|
|Second person||te (to/for informal you)||os (to/for formal you)|
|Third person||le (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.
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).
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.
|to buy something for someone|
|to tell something to someone|
|to give something to someone|
|to say something to someone|
|to write something to someone|
|to send something to someone|
|to show something to someone|
|to ask something of someone|
|to give (a gift) to someone|
|to serve something to someone|
|to bring something to someone|
Thirsty for more grammar? Check out out articles on direct object pronouns, indirect object placement and using direct and indirect object pronouns together.