Spanish Indirect Object Pronouns


An indirect object is the person or thing for whom an action is being or has been performed, usually indicated in English by the words “to” or “for.”

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The indirect object pronouns indicate the noun to who and for whom and action is intended. It also represents the action by which or to which is being done.

Yo le doy clases                             I give him classes.

Yo le compro el vestido                 I buy the dress from him.

Yo no le escribo la carta                 I do not write the letter for him.

The indirect object pronoun le is placed before the verb that is conjugated. If the word “no,” is present, it is written before the indirect object pronoun le.

There are several meanings for the word le: to him; to her; to you (formal sing); and of les: to them (masc. The indirect object pronoun. Le means: to him, to her, to you, and les: to them (masc. Fem.) to you (by adding these in most cases however, you can use them to emphasize the indirect object pronoun.

El me trae la comida a mí,             He brings me the food.

Le (to him, to her, to you) is clarified by adding a mí, a ella, a él , or a Ud; Les (to them, to you formal pl) is clarified by adding a ellos, a ellas, a uds.

All forms of indirect object pronouns

Luis me da el libro (a mi)  Luis gives the book to me  
Te da   (a ti)  to you
Le da  (a el)  to him       
Le da(a ella)  to her 
Le da     (a ud.)  to you
Luis nos da el libro(a nosotros) Luis gives the book to us.
Os da      (a vosotros)  to you (you all)
Les da     (a ellos)       to them (masc)
Les da  (a uds.)  to them (fem)

Note all the meanings of le: to him; to her; to you (formal singular) les: to them (masc + fem) to you (formal plural.)

Indirect object pronouns in the attached position.

  1. Señorita escríbale una carta. Miss, write to her a letter.
  2. Para escribirle necesito papel.     To write to him, I need paper.

The indirect object pronouns are attached to affirmative commands just like the direct object pronouns. Indirect object pronouns are written before negative commands, and conjugated verbs, the same as with direct object pronouns.

If a conjugated verb is followed by an infinitive, the indirect object pronoun may be written either before the conjugated verb or attached to the end of the infinitive.

Laura no le quiere hablar.   Laura does not to talk to him.

Laura no quiere hablarle.     Laura does not want to talk to him.

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Common European Framework of Reference for Languages

The CEFR is an international standard used to describe language ability. Here are specific details of the CEFR for this topic.

General Explanation:

Can understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment). Can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters. Can describe in simple terms aspects of his/her background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need.

Specific Capabilities at this Level

I can write short, simple notes and messages relating to matters in areas of immediate needs. I can write a very simple personal letter, for example thanking someone for something.
Spoken Production:
I can use a series of phrases and sentences to describe in simple terms my family and other people, living conditions, my educational background and my present or most recent job.
Spoken Interaction:
I can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar topics and activities. I can handle very short social exchanges, even though I can’t usually understand enough to keep the conversation going myself.
I can read very short, simple texts. I can find specific, predictable information in simple everyday material such as advertisements, prospectuses, menus and timetables and I can understand short simple personal letters.
I can understand phrases and the highest frequency vocabulary related to areas of most immediate personal relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local area, employment). I can catch the main point in short, clear, simple messages and announcements.