Spanish Direct & Indirect Object Pronouns

Now that you’ve learned about direct and indirect object pronouns, what happens if you want to use them together?

The sentences that follow are examples of both object pronouns being used together. The direct object is in bold, while the indirect object is underlined.

• Does Hector give them to you? - ¿Te los da Héctor?
• They ask us for it. - Ellos nos lo piden.
• I need to give it to him tomorrow. - Necesito dárselo mañana.

To refresh your memory, the direct and indirect object pronouns that you will use in combination are as follows:

Indirect object pronouns

Direct object pronouns

me

   

te

   

se

(this is le normally)

lo, la

nos

   

os

   

se

(this is les normally)

los, las

When you combine the direct and indirect object pronouns in a sentence, you have two options.

• You can put the indirect object pronoun, followed by the direct object pronoun, as two separate words before the verb.
- such as, “Te lo voy a dar.” I’m going to give it to you.


• You can attach the indirect object pronoun and the direct object pronoun onto the end of an infinitive.
- such as, “Voy a dártelo.” I’m going to give it to you.

(Note that you must add an accent on the infinitive ending to preserve the correct pronunciation.)

Which Object Comes First?

In English, you can switch the order of the direct and indirect objects. For example:

• I will give it to him.orI will give him it.
• Hector gave them to you.orHector gave you them.

In Spanish, on the other hand, the indirect object pronoun will ALWAYS come before the direct object pronoun.

Por ejemplo:

Mi profesor me enseña a hablar español.

My professor teaches me to speak Spanish.

Mi profesor me lo enseña.

Do Mary and John finish first?

Nos arreglan los boletos de avión.

They arrange our plane tickets for us.

Nos los arreglan.

They arrange them for us.

Paula te repara la computadora.

Paula repairs the computer for you.

Paula te la repara.

Paula repairs it for you.

Jorge le pide los libros a Carla.

George asks Carla for the books.

Jorge se los pide.

George asks her for them.

Why Does ‘Le’ Change to ‘Se’?

As with so many irregularities in the Spanish language, the change of the indirect object pronoun in the third person makes pronunciation easier.

• Try saying, “Le lo voy a dar.”
• Now, try saying, “Se lo voy a dar.”I’m going to give it to him.
• Can you hear why le changes to se?

Por ejemplo:

Les servimos la comida.

We serve them the food.

Se la servimos.

We serve them it.

Le muestra las casas.

He shows her the houses.

Se las muestra.

He shows her them.

Les explicamos los chistes a Uds.

We explain the jokes to you.

Se los explican.

They explain them to you.

To Whom? Clarifying “Se”

The word “se” can refer to any number of indirect pronouns: him, her, it, them, you…. Just as it is recommended to add a clarification after “le,” if your audience does not know to whom you are referring, it is also recommended to add a clarification after the use of “se” if the indirect object is not clear.

To do so, use “se” as you normally would, then append one of the following to the end of your sentence:

• a Ud.
• a él
• a ella
• a Uds.
• a ellos
• a ellas

Por ejemplo:

¿A quién le servimos la comida?

To whom do we serve the food?

Se la servimos a él.

We serve it to him.

¿A quién le muestra él la casa?

To whom does he show the house?

Se la muestra a ellos.

He shows it to them.

¿A quién les explicamos los chistes?

To whom do we explain the jokes?

Se los explicamos a Uds.

We explain them to you.


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