The action of the verb is received by a direct object pronoun. While whom/what/whatever the action of the verb is being done for is an indirect object pronoun. Learning indirect object pronouns in Spanish will help you master Spanish grammar and enable you to initiate conversations fearlessly.

An indirect object pronoun is who/whom/what the action of the verb is being done for. In this guide, we will focus on teaching you how to use indirect object pronouns in Spanish.

Let’s have a look at an example:

  • Quiero comprar flores para mi novia (I want to buy flowers for my girlfriend).

In this sentence, the action verb is “to buy”, the direct object would be “the flowers” and the indirect object is “my girlfriend”.

Knowing that an indirect object is always preceded by prepositions like “a” and “para,” as the action is intended for someone or something else, is a quick way to remember this.

Using the above example, we can replace the indirect object (the girlfriend) with the proper pronoun: Quiero comprarle flores (I want to buy her flowers).

If you are wondering how to learn Spanish grammar, then the best strategy is to understand a particular concept and try looking for its relevant examples. It will help you broaden your knowledge base.

Identifying indirect object pronouns in a sentence

Asking “for whom/what the action is being done for” can help you remember how to find the indirect object. Or who stands to gain from the primary action? Simply ask: Who is the main action for in complex sentences (or particularly long ones)?

Let’s clarify this one by looking at a relevant example

  • Él cocina la comida para su esposa. (He cooks the food for his wife).

Now we ask, who does he cook the food for? The answer is his wife (for her). Él le cocina la comida (He cooks her food).

Here the direct object here is “the food” since that receives the action of the verb “to cook”.

Let’s take a look at how indirect objects work for every personal pronoun.

Find Your Perfect Teacher

At italki, you can find your Spanish tutor from all qualified and experienced teachers. Now experience the excellent language learning journey!

Book a trial lesson

List of Indirect Object Pronouns

Personal PronounIndirect Object PronounEnglish
YoMeMe
TeYou
Él / Ella / UstedLeHim / Her / You (formal)
Nosotros / NosotrasNosUs
UstedesLesYou
Ellos / EllasLesThem

Now let’s explore some basic examples of an indirect object pronoun in action:

  • Carlos ha comprado un regalo a su hermana. (Carlos has bought a gift for his sister).
  • Carlos le ha comprado un regalo (Le = a su hermana). (Carlos has bought her a gift).

In order to make it simple for you to understand how and when to use indirect object pronouns appropriately based on the situation, it makes sense to divide them into singular and plural forms at this point. You can also seek guidance from Spanish tutors if you are finding it difficult to comprehend these concepts on your own. The Spanish teachers will help you understand these concepts with engaging instructional practices.

Singular

Personal pronounIndirect object pronounEnglish
YoMeMe
TeYou
Él / Ella / UstedLe / SeHim / Her / You (formal)

Some examples:

  • Mi padre me regaló una guitarra. (My father gave me a guitar).
  • Nosotros te queremos acompañar. (We want to accompany you).
  • Tú le dijiste que si (a él, a ella). You said yes (to him, to her)
  • Yo le tengo mucho respeto. (I respect you very much).

Plural

Personal pronounIndirect object pronounEnglish
Nosotros / NosotrasNosUs
Ustedes / Ellos / EllasLes / SeThem

Some examples:

  • Él nos llevará a la playa. (He will take us to the beach).
  • Ella les ayudará mañana. (She will help you (plural) tomorrow).
  • Carmen les hace la comida todos los días. (Carmen makes them meals every day).
  • Carlos y Ana nos acompañan al trabajo. (Carlos and Ana accompany us to work).

If you want to learn Spanish online, you need to enroll yourself with italki. Here, you can learn Spanish subjunctive, grammar, vocabulary, and sentences with fascinating teaching methods. Book yourself online and start learning Spanish today!

How to use Spanish indirect object pronouns in sentences

Depending on the shape of the action verb in the sentence, there are a number of situations in which the placement of indirect object pronouns will change.

Indirect object pronoun + a conjugated Verb

When the main verb is conjugated, we can only use the pronoun before the verb.

Pronoun (indirect object) + conjugated verb + complement

For example:

  • Mi hijo me regaló un vestido hermoso. (My son gave me a beautiful dress).
  • Les compraré la casa, es una oferta increíble. (I will buy the house, it is an incredible offer).

Indirect object pronoun + Infinitive verb

Usually, a conjugated verb comes before an infinitive verb when it appears in a sentence. You must be careful not to mistake this for the prior situation (conjugated verbs).

In this case, we can place the pronoun before the conjugated verb, or after the infinitive verb.

1. Pronoun (indirect object) + conjugated verb + infinitive verb + complement

2. Conjugated verb + infinitive verb + pronoun (indirect object) + complement

For example

English: Do you want to help us with homework?

  • Nos quieren ayudar con la tarea?
  • Quieren ayudarnos con la tarea?

Indirect object pronoun + progressive verb

It typically uses two verbs, one of which is conjugated and the other of which is in its progressive tense.

In this situation, we can either place the pronoun after the progressive verb or before the conjugated verb.

1. Pronoun (indirect object) + conjugated verb + progressive verb + complement

2. Conjugated verb + progressive verb + pronoun (indirect object) + complement

For example

English: They are doing us a great favor.

  • Nos están haciendo un gran favor.
  • Están haciéndonos un gran favor.

Indirect object pronoun + imperatives

For commands, we use the imperative mode and can add pronouns after the verb:

Verb (imperative) + pronoun (indirect object) + complement

For example

Entréganos el reporte antes del mediodía por favor. (Give us the report before noon please).

Recuérdame comprar comida para el perro. (Remind me to buy food for the dog).

Indirect object pronoun in the negative form

This form is relatively simple and straightforward. No + indirect object + verb

For example:

  • No nos hagas esto. (Do not do this to us).
  • Daniela no les dijo nada sobre la reunion. (Daniela did not tell them anything about the meeting).
  • Ellas no lo están haciendo bien. (They are not doing well).

Frequently asked questions

Q. What are the rules for indirect object pronouns in Spanish?

A. The indirect object pronoun is placed before the conjugated verb or attached to an infinitive like a direct object. The clarification is provided in Spanish by using the preposition a + noun or personal subject pronoun.

Q. What questions do indirect objects answer in Spanish?

A. Whereas direct objects answer the questions “what?” or “whom?” receives the action of the verb, indirect objects (IOs) answer “to whom?” or “for whom?” the action is done.

Q. How do you identify an indirect object?

A. You can find an indirect object by asking yourself “who or what is receiving the direct object?”

Learning indirect object pronouns in Spanish with direct object pronouns is beneficial. Your comprehension of Spanish’s direct and indirect objects completes the picture and brings you one step closer to fluency.

Direct pronouns, indirect pronouns, and Spanish demonstrative pronouns, all take you one step closer to becoming a fluent Spanish speaker. Practice them on a daily basis. Generate notes for yourself and eventually, you will become a pro at their uses and applications.

Want to learn a language at italki?

Here are the best resources for you!