When do we use ‘lo’ la’ and ‘le’ and where do we put them? – Direct and Indirect Object Pronouns

  • Google+ icon
  • LinkedIn icon
  • 1239 views

Direct object pronouns- replace the direct object:

e.g María ha comprado una bicicleta- María la ha comprado (as the bicycle is the direct object, which has been replaced by la). Therefore, all you need to do is just pop the right pronoun depending on gender and whether it is masculine or feminine (lo, los, la ,las) in front of the verb- e.g lo tengo- I have it (referring to a masculine object).

Indirect object pronouns- stand for the person (or object) who receives something as a result of the action:

e.g ¿Mandaste una carta a Gabriela ayer? - ¿Le mandaste una carta? (Le is referring to Gabriela who is the one receiving the letter)

Below, is a table showing which pronouns are used to replace particular nouns:

Direct object pronouns:

Lo – for only masculine people and things

¿Dónde está el libro? Yo no lo tengo.

Los – for masculine plural people and things

Esos libros eran buenos, pero yo no los compré

La-  for only female people and things

¿Ves a mi hermana? No, no la veo.

¿Mi pluma? No la tengo

Las- for feminine plural people and things

¿Has visitado a mis amigas? Sí, las visité ayer.

Indirect object pronouns:

Lefor people (singular and can be feminine or masculine)

Le dimos los buenos días

Les – for people (plural)

Les conté la noticia

Placement:

Generally the direct and indirect object pronouns are placed before the verb (eg no lo tengo), however, as with most things in Spanish, there are exceptions! The exceptions require the pronoun to be attached to the end of the verb, but only when it is in the following forms:

If the accompanying verb is an infinitive

e.g. Me gusta ese coche. Quiero comprarlo

If the accompanying verb is in the gerund

e.g  El español es el mejor idioma en todo el mundo, por lo tanto seguiré estudiándolo.

If the accompanying verb is an imperative (affirmative commands only)

E.g ¡ábrelo! / ¡cómelo! / ¡dame el libro!

The use of se (the tricky bit!)

Firstly, it sounds wrong to even try to say ‘lelo’ (this should never be seen) in Spanish when two personal pronouns of the third person come together, so simply, one pronoun has to change and that is the indirect object pronoun.

For example, if we wanted to say he gives it (el libro) to her, (literally le lo da) we have to change the indirect to se, becoming ‘Se lo da.’ as phonetically, it is much better.

Another example is if we wanted to say he gives (los libros) to them, it become ‘Se los da.’ (los because the books are masculine plural). 

Sophie  H. GCSE Spanish tutor, A Level Spanish tutor

About the author

is an online A Level Spanish tutor with MyTutor studying at Exeter University

Still stuck? Get one-to-one help from a personally interviewed subject specialist.

95% of our customers rate us

Browse tutors

We use cookies to improve your site experience. By continuing to use this website, we'll assume that you're OK with this. Dismiss

mtw:mercury1:status:ok