Quick Answer

Direct object pronouns don't always go in the same place in a sentence. Their placement depends on things like the mood of the sentence (such as indicative or imperative) and whether the sentence is affirmative or negative.

Indicative Sentences

The indicative is one of three moods in Spanish. It's typically used for making factual statements or describing obvious qualities of a person or situation.

Simple Verbs and Perfect Verbs

In indicative sentences with one simple verb, the direct object pronoun comes before the verb.

Yo la veo.
I see her.
Carmen no lo lee.
Carmen doesn't read it.
Manuel la tiene.
Manuel has it.
María no los tiene.
Maria doesn't have them.
Mi hermano las compra.
My brother buys them.

Direct object pronouns also come before the conjugated verb in sentences that use perfect tenses.

No la he visto.
I haven't seen her.
Los he comprado.
I've bought them.

Infinitives and Present Participles

In indicative sentences that use infinitives or present participles, you can either attach the direct object pronoun to the end of the verb or put it before the first conjugated verb. Check out these examples.

Yo la estoy limpiando.
I'm cleaning it.
Yo estoy limpiándola.
I'm cleaning it.
Lo voy a comprar.
I'm going to buy it.
Voy a comprarlo.
I'm going to buy it.

Note the accent on limpiándola. This is used to preserve the stress on the correct syllable.

Imperative Sentences

The imperative mood is used for giving commands in Spanish. With sentences in the imperative, the placement of direct object pronouns depends on whether the command is affirmative or negative.

  • Direct object pronouns are always attached to the end of affirmative commands.
  • Direct object pronouns always go between the negative word (no, nunca, etc.) and the verb in negative commands.

Check out these examples.

Affirmative Commands

Read it.
Take it out.

Negative Commands

No lo leas.
Don't read it.
Nunca la saques.
Never take it out.

Note the addition of the accent to the affirmative command forms. You can find more about adding accents when using direct object pronouns here!

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