le/les vs. lo/los & la/las

le/les vs. lo/los & la/las


When using indirect object pronouns when do you use le, lo, or la? Or is there even a difference?

Example: Is it; A quién le escribe Clara la carta? or A quien la escribe Clara la carta?

updated SEP 26, 2017
posted by kamackgirl

2 Answers


Hi Kamackgirl,

A quién le escribe Clara la carta?

A quick grammatical breakdown of your sentence:

escribe Verb - describes an action or state–in this case the act of writing. It is conjugated in the first person singular which means that a single person is performing the action (i.e. writing) and is being spoken of as though they were neither the speaker nor a person being spoken to.
Clara Subject - describes the person or entity performing the action. In this case, it is Clara who is performing the action of writing.
la carta Direct Object - describes the person or thing which directly receives the action of the verb. In this case a letter receives the action of writing (i.e. the letter is what is written).
A quién Indirect object - describes to whom or for whom the action described is directed. Because this is a question, the interrogative "A quién" asks "to whom" or "for whom" is the letter written.

All that being said, in Spanish, you will find that if a sentence includes an indirect object the indirect object pronoun quite frequently accompanies the verb. It might help to realize that the indirect object pronoun (le) in your sentence above, is simply a restatement of the indirect object "a quién." A helpful hint you can use tell the difference between an indirect object (or direct object if it happens to refer to a person) from the subject of the sentence is to note that the object is preceded by the preposition "a" (i.e. a quién).

In regards to the use of direct object pronoun "la" here, it could be used, but only to replace or restate the direct object, "la carta," as in:

Replaced by Direct Object Pronoun:
A quién le escribe Clara la carta ? A quién se la escribe Clara
To whom did Clara write the letter? ?To whom did Clara write it to?
Restated as Direct Object Pronoun:
A quién le escribe Clara la carta ? A quién se la escribe Clara la carta
To whom did Clara write the letter? ? To whom did Clara write the letter?

If you are confused by these topics, you might have a look at the reference articles for each of these topics (links provided above). Hope this helped and best of luck smile

updated OCT 10, 2011
edited by Izanoni1
posted by Izanoni1

Le and les are indirect pronouns.

Lo, la, los and las are direct pronouns.

Object Pronouns

updated OCT 10, 2011
posted by Jeremias
SpanishDict is the world's most popular Spanish-English dictionary, translation, and learning website.