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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 italicized.

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

Resources for further reading:

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

Direct Indirect English
me me "me"
te te "you"
lo le "you (formal)" / "him"
la le "you (fem.; formal) / "her"
nos nos "us"
os os "you (plural; Spain)"
los les "you (plural)" / "them"
las les "you (fem.; plural)" / "them (fem.)"

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

  1. You can put the indirect object pronoun, followed by the direct object pronoun, as two separate words before the verb. For example, Te lo voy a dar. I’m going to give it to you.
  2. You can attach the indirect object pronoun and the direct object pronoun onto the end of an infinitive. For example, 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.
  • I will give him it.
  • Hector gave them to you.
  • Hector gave you them.

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

Por ejemplo:

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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.

Both of which mean: "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.

Looking for more? Here are more lessons on Spanish pronouns:

See you soon! ¡Hasta pronto!

Mauricio Evlampieff: Rocket Spanish

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