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Overview

Telling a story can get tiring pretty quickly if you have to keep saying every person´s name over and over. This is where personal pronouns (subject pronouns) come in pretty handy. Personal pronouns replace a subject noun or name and they are classified several different ways: number (singular, plural), person (1st, 2nd, 3rd person), gender (male, female), and formality (formal or informal). Luckily, there is a handy chart that holds all this information. For more detail on when and how to use each pronoun, see the notes below.

¡Cuidado! If in doubt, don't use it! While personal pronouns can be used to replace a person's name, advanced and native speakers of Spanish rarely use them since the verb ending tells you who the subject is.

  Singular Plural
1st person yo (I)

nosotros (we, masculine)

nosotras (we, feminine)

2nd person

tú (you, familiar) 

vos (you, familiar) 

usted (you, formal)

vosotros (you, masculine)

vosotras (you, feminine)

ustedes (you, formal)

3rd person

él (he)

ella (she)

ellos (they, masculine)

ellas (they, feminine)

yo (I)

  • As you can see, it is not necessary to capitalize "yo" in Spanish like you capitalize "I" in English. It is, of course, capitalized at the beginning of a sentence.

tú (you, singular informal)

  • Spanish has two ways of speaking directly to someone: formally and informally. When you are talking directly to children, relatives, friends, peers, or pets, you should "tú," the informal address.

  • Tú carries a tilde to distinguish it from the possessive adjective "tu" meaning "your."

vos (you, singular informal)

  • Means the same thing as and is used instead of "tú"

  • Is used mainly in what is known as the Southern Cone of Latin America (Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay), so don't try to use it in Spain. People might look at you funny. For more information on the voseo, read this.

usted (you, singular formal)

  • Usted is used to directly address someone older, a person you do not know, a superior, or someone you would like to show a lot of respect.

  • You can abbreviate usted as "Ud." It should always be capitalized and with a period in the abbreviated form.

  • While categorized as a 2nd person pronoun, verbs in the Ud. form are conjugated as if they are 3rd person singular. More on this in the verbs lessons.

él, ella (he, she)

  • Use these pronouns in place of a person's name.

  • Él carries a tilde to differentiate it from the definite article "el" meaning "the."

  • No special notes about "ella" except a reminder that is pronounced like a (eh-yah).

nosotros, nosotras (we)

  • Use nosotros/as when speaking about a group of which you are a part.

  • The only difference between nosotros and nosotras is in gender.

  • Nosotros is masculine and is used to refer to a group of men only or a group mixed of men and women. (Even if there are 99 women and 1 man, still use the masculine form.)

  • Nosotras is feminine and is only used when the entire group is female.

vosotros, vosotras (you, plural informal)

  • Vosotros/as is used to speak directly to a group of people you are very familiar with (see tú)

  • Vosotros is used as the informal, or familiar, form of "you" plural in Spain. Most other Spanish-speaking countries do not use vosotros.

  • Vosotros/as follows the same rules as nosotros: all men and mixed groups: vosotros, all women: vosotras.

ustedes (you, plural formal)

  • Since vosotros is only used in Spain, ustedes is used to speak directly to a group of people in both formal and informal situations.

  • Ustedes is commonly abbreviated as "Uds."

  • While categorized as a 2nd person pronoun, verbs in the Uds. form are conjugated as if they are 3rd person plural. More on this in the verbs lessons.

ellos, ellas (they)

  • Ellos and ellas follow the same rules as nosotros and vosotros for gender: all men and mixed groups: ellos, all women: ellas

  • Use ellos/as when you are replacing more than one person's name or are talking about a group of people



For combinations of names and pronouns, note the following chart:
  • anything + yo = nosotros
  • anything + tú = ustedes/vosotros
  • anything + él, ella = ellos/ellas
  • 2+ names = ellos/ellas

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