Spanish Subject Pronouns

Beginner Spanish - Level A1


Subject pronouns are the words such as “I”, “you”, “he”, etc. They are the “subject”, as they carry out the verb in a sentence. They are also referred to as personal pronouns because they refer to people. Subject pronouns often replace a subject noun and can be classified several different ways: by person (first, second, or third person), number (singular or plural), gender (male or female), and formality (formal or informal).

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Spanish Subject Pronouns

What are subject pronouns and why do we use them? Subject pronouns in both Spanish and English are words used to replace a proper name. In English these sound like: I, you, he, she, we, they.

While learning Spanish, you will often see the subjects laid out in a chart like the one shown below. These subjects will always “live” in these same boxes in the chart and will never change locations. That way when we begin to work with verbs soon, you will always know which version of the verb belongs with which subject.

Memorizing these subject pronouns’ locations on the chart will allow you to know which form of the verb belongs with each subject once we start pairing them. 


Spanish Subject Pronouns

Yo = I (**unlike I in English, yo is only capitalized at the beginning of a sentence)

Nosotros = We (masculine, or a mixed gender group)

Nosotras = We (a group of only females)

 = You (this form of “you” is used in informal situations or with people that you know)

Vosotros = You all (this is used solely in Spain) (masculine or a mixed gender group)

Vosotras = You all (a group of only females)

Él = He

Ella = She

Usted = You (this form of “you” is used in formal situations as a show of respect or with strangers; it is often abbreviated "ud.")

Ellos = They (masculine, or a mixed gender group)

Ellas = They (all females)

Ustedes = You all (often abbreviated "uds.")

 Did you notice that all singular subjects are on the left side and their plural counterpart is directly across from them on the right?


How do Spanish subject pronouns work?

As stated before, these pronouns replace names so that we do not have to keep repeating proper names over and over in conversation. For example:

John is coming to the cookout at 5:00. He is bringing hamburgers.

See how the word “he” replaced the original use of “John”? 

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When is it appropriate and inappropriate to be familiar in Spanish?

As you have learned from previous modules, the Spanish language places an emphasis on formality when addressing specific peers. The lesson on Subject Pronouns briefly went over Tú, Usted, Ustedes, Vosotros, and Vosotras.

We know that they mean “you” … but why do we have to learn this?

In Spanish, the conjugation of verbs directly matches what subject pronoun you choose to use. Since we have not yet discussed verb conjugation, you may not understand this topic in full. You can look at the module on formality or the beginning -ar/-er/-ir conjugations for more information.

Here is more explanation on when to use each version of "you" with some quick acronymns for the singular ones: 

Usted - F.O.R.

F. Formal: when you are in a formal scenario
       Examples: business transaction, work, conference, meeting, etc.

O. Older: when you are speaking to someone older than you
      Examples: grandparents, older adults, senior citizens, etc.

R. Respect: when you are speaking to someone who deserves respect
     Examples: boss, manager, politicians, doctors, people with higher education,
                       people who you look up to, etc.


Tú - I.S.F.

I. Informal: when you are in an informal scenario
     Examples: hanging out with friends, at dinner, going out, meeting new people, relaxed
                       social settings

S. Similar: when you are of a similar age/ position
     Examples: Meeting strangers that seem your age, talking to your peers, meeting people
                       who have a similar level of achievement as yourself

F. Favorites: when you are around your favorite people
     Examples: Friends, close family, similar ages, and people you are really close to in


Ustedes is the plural conjugation for "you all." It identifies a group of individuals as a subject in the second person. However, unlike usted it can apply to BOTH formal and informal scenarios. The level of formality would depend on who you are talking to. Ustedes is used in many Spanish speaking countries, other than Spain, to identify an informal, plural subject group of “you.”

Vosotros/ Vosotras

People in Spain use the term vosotros / vosotras to indicate an informal, plural subject group of “you.” It has similar applications as those listed for Tú above. However, vosotros/as has vastly different verb conjugation rules than tú, usted, or ustedes.

Spanish Subject Pronouns

Below is a list of the Spanish Subject Pronouns. As you can tell, many of the pronouns match in number and gender of the subject. Another layer to correct subject pronoun usage in Spanish is the understanding of formality.
Spanish Pronouns

Use  when you are talking directly to a child, a relative, a friend, a peer, or a pet. It is classified as the informal second person singular.

Vos is used instead of tú in some countries, such as Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica.
In some countries, such as Bolivia, Chile, Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador, you may hear both tú and vos.
In some countries, such as Spain, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic, you will only hear tú.

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

Nosotros, Nosotras

Use nosotros or nosotras when speaking about a group that includes yourself.

The only difference between nosotros and nosotras is gender.

  • Nosotros is used to refer to a group of just men OR a group made up of men and women. Even if there are ninety-nine women and only one man in a group, you still use nosotros.
  • Nosotras is feminine and is only used when the entire group is female.

Vosotros, Vosotras

Vosotros and vosotras are used to speak directly to a group of people you are very familiar with.

Vosotros and vosotras follow the same rules for gender as nosotros and nosotras.


In Latin America, ustedes is used to speak directly to a group of people in both formal and informal situations.

In Spain, ustedes is used when talking to a group of people in a formal situation.

Let’s practice!

Replace the following subjects with the appropriate subject pronoun. Be sure to pay close attention to match the gender! Scroll down to see the answer key.

  1. John
  2. Beth
  3. Sarah and Michelle
  4. Tommy and I (I being a male)
  5. You (informal)
  6. You (formal)
  7. I
  8. Andrew and Garrett
  9. Jane and I (I being a female)
  10. Adam, Susanna, and you (this can have two answers – can you name them both?)


Answer key:

1. Él (he)

2. Ella (she)

3. Ellas (they)

4. Nosotros (we)

5. Tú

6. Usted

7. Yo

8. Ellos (they)

9. Nosotras (we)

10. Ustedes OR vosotros (both mean you all)

1. "El" means…
   a. He
   b. The
   c. She
   d. They

2. What subject pronouns are first person?
   a. I
   b. Ella
   c. We
   d. Both a. and c.

3. What subject pronouns are third person and singular?
   a. Él, Ella
   b. Yo, Nosotros
   c. Tú, Usted
   d. Vosotros, Vosotras

4. What subject does "nosotros" correspond with?
   a. We, can only ever apply to men
   b. We, can only ever apply to women
   c. We, can apply to a group of men or a mix of men and women
   d. We, can only apply to a group of mixed gendered individuals

5. What subject does "vosotras" correspond with?
   a. You all, can only apply to a group of men
   b. You all, can only apply to a group of women
   c. You all, can apply to a group of men or a mixed group
   d. You all, can only apply to a group of mixed gendered individuals

6. Are all subject pronouns applicable in a formal setting?
   a. Yes
   b. No

For numbers 7 - 12, match the Spanish subject pronoun to its English translation:

Choices: A. She       B. I         C. You all (formal, plural)      D. He     E. You (formal, singular)      F. We (masculine)
   7. Yo
   8. Él
   9. Usted
   10. Ustedes
   11. Ella
   12. Nosotros

(Scroll down for answers.)

1. b (El means "the"... whereas él with an accent is the subject pronoun "he")

2. d ("I" and "we" are both first person subject pronouns; "I" is singular and "we" is plural)

3. a (él and ella are both third person and singular)

4. c ("nosotros" means "we" and can apply to a group of men OR a mix of men and women)

5. b

6. b (not all subject pronouns are applicable in a formal setting; for example "tú" and "vosotros" are not)

7. B (yo = i)
8. D (él = he)
9. E (usted = you formal, singular)
10. C (ustedes = you all formal, plural) 
11. A (ella = she)
12. F (nosotros = we masculine or mixed gender)

1. What subject pronoun can your use the acronym F.O.R for?
   a. Vosotros
   b. Tú
   c. Ellos
   d. Usted

2. What subject pronoun can you use the acronym I.S.F for?
   a. Tú
   b. Yo
   c. Nosotros
   d. Ella

3. Where is the term "vosotros" used?
   a. Spain
   b. France
   c. All Spanish speaking countries
   d. Latin America

4. Can ustedes be used informally or formally?

  1. informally
  2. formally
  3. both
Match the scenario with the best form of "you" in Spanish:
    (Answers can be used more than once.)

5. Your best friend                                                                           A. Vosotros
6. A project meeting with your boss                                            B. Tú
7. A group of elders                                                                         C. Usted
8. A group of guys and girls your age in a bar in Panamá      D. Ustedes
9. A group of people your age in a bar in Spain                        E. Vosotras
10. A group of girls your age at the mall in Spain

Scroll down for answers.
1. d (the acronym F.O.R. can be used with "usted")

2. a (the acronym I.S.F. can be used with "tú")

3. a (the term "vosotros" is used in Spain to mean "you all")

4. a

5. B (your best friend should be referred to as "tú")
6. C (in a project meeting you should refer to your boss as "usted")
7. D (refer to a group of elders as "ustedes")
8. D (refer to a group of people your age at a bar in Panamá as "ustedes")
9. A (refer to a group of guys and girls your age at a bar in Spain as "vosotros")
10. E (refer to a group of girls your age at the mall in Spain as "vosotras")

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