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Direct Vs Indirect Objects In Spanish

Many languages have very specific grammar rules to differentiate not only between a subject and object, but also to distinguish between a direct and indirect object. Although it might not be the easiest grammar rule to understand, when it comes to Spanish, it is crucial to conveying the message you want to. Let's take a look at how to properly identify direct and indirect objects in Spanish.

Jul 26, 2016 12:00 AM
Comments · 3

Something else: I am afraid even Spanish teachers get confused by the fact that for personal objects, direct and indirect objects are identical. (Last year I spent two weeks in a language school in Madrid. At one point I asked whether a specific noun had to be replaced by "lo" or by "le"; all the teachers were discussing the question for a whole day and could not agree on the answer.) In this case, you are writing:

Esta idea sedujo al professor (IO)

But my dictionary tells me that seducir is transitive (i.e. takes a direct object) and it has the following example:

La sedujo y luego la abandonó

See here:

So what kind of object does seducir have, direct or indirect?

July 12, 2017

Hola Harald.

Firstly, I am sorry for answering your question so late, but I didn´t receive any notification from italki.

You say: " If we want to use the correct personal pronouns, in most cases we have to know whether an object is direct or indirect. How do we know? "

The action of the verb (transitive or intransitive) is what decides, if we use a Direct or Indirect Pronoum. There are verbs that use both.

By the other hand, the object could or not be part in the action of the verb.

Yo vi a mi hermana en el cine --> Yo la (direct pronoun) vi en el cine ~ Doesn´t matter if she is concious of the action of the verb "ver"

Elena besó a Juan--> Elena lo/le besó ~ When the object is masculine and singular we use the directo pronoun 'lo' but also we can use the indirect pronoun 'le'. Only in this case we don´t make 'leísmo'.

Elena dio un beso a Juan --> Elena se (le - indirect pronoun) lo (direct pronoun) dio. ~ In this sentence Elena is conscious of the action of the verb 'dar'

(Yo) pedí al camarero la cuenta --> (Yo) se(le - indirect pronoun) la (direct pronoun) pedí ~ Perhaps the waiter didn´t have notive about my request.

"Esta idea sedujo al profesor (IO)" -  'al profesor' is a Direct Object (DO) --> Esta idea lo/le sedujo ~ 'camarero' is masculine singular, therefore we can use 'lo' or 'le'.

'Seducir' is a transitive verb so it is necessaary a direct object to get a full meaning.

If I say: Esta idea sedujo. Whom? - ¿A quién? --> Al profesor

Please if you have any question, send me a message, I am happy to discuss about this subject.




June 6, 2018

Hi Antonio,

You explained the use of personal pronouns well. However, I have a problem with your article. Everything in this article depends on the distinction between direct and indirect object. If we want to use the correct personal pronouns, in most cases we have to know whether an object is direct or indirect. How do we know? Your explanation (which I have seen in other places as well) reads like this:

"In grammatical terms, a direct object of a verb is a noun or a pronoun that is being directly acted upon by a person or thing by way of a verb"

Sorry, but I think this is crap. What does it mean "to act directly upon"? For example, "Veo al amigo" does not act upon the friend at all; the friend might not even notice that I see him. The action takes place in my eyes and my brain only. On the other hand, in "Doy un regalo al amigo" something happens to the friend: He receives a gift. Yet in the first case the object is direct, in the second case it is indirect. Can you explain why the first action is more direct to the friend than the second? I guess you can't.

In my opinion there is no way to decide *semantically* which objects are direct and which are indirect; you just have to learn by heart for every verb which types of object are possible with the verb.

July 12, 2017
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