What is a direct object?
A direct object (D.O.) is something or someone that certain verbs (transitive verbs) act upon:
- I read a book. Q: What did I read? DO: a book
- I drove a car. Q: What did I drive? DO: a car
- I will call Ana. Q: Who will I call? DO: Ana
What is a tonic or disjunctive pronoun?
A tonic or disjunctive pronoun is a stressed form of a personal pronoun that is only used in certain contexts. In Spanish, they are:
- a mí
- a ti
- a él/ella/ud
- a nosotros
- a vosotros
- a ellos/ellas/uds
Marcos helps me
Marcos me ayuda
me - me. Note that we can use the direct-object pronoun me to replace the disjunctive pronoun a mí. Direct object pronouns always appear before the conjugated verb
Guillermo calls you every day
Guillermo te llama todos los días
you - te. Note that this direct-object pronoun replaces the disjunctive pronoun a ti (i.e. Guillermo te llama a ti)
I don't see him at the back of the restaurant
No lo veo al fondo del restaurante
him, it, you (Ud) - lo. Note that this direct-object pronoun replaces masculine nouns such as:
- the phrases a él and a usted
- a masculine noun (e.g. el libro)
- someone's name (e.g. a Marcos)
I didn't receive the letter. I didn't receive it
No recibí la carta. No la recibí
her, it, you (formal, feminine) - la. Note that this direct-object pronoun replaces feminine nouns such as:
- the phrases a ella and a usted
- a feminine noun (e.g. la carta), or
- a person (e.g. María)
They helped us buy a house
Ellos nos ayudaron a comprar una casa
us - nos. Note that this direct-object pronoun replaces the disjunctive pronoun a nosotros(as). Also note that the direct-object pronoun is placed between the subject and the verb
I called you (vosotros) this morning
Os llamé esta mañana
you (vosotros) - os. Note that this direct-object pronoun replaces the disjunctive pronoun a vosotros(as)
I sold the books. I sold them
Vendí los libros. Los vendí
them, you (plural) - los. Note that this direct-object pronoun replaces the disjunctive pronouns a ellos and a ustedes, or replaces a plural masculine noun (e.g. los libros), or replaces several names (e.g. Marcos y María)
I helped them (fem)
Yo las ayudé
them (fem), you (plural, fem) - las. Note that this direct-object pronoun replaces the phrases a ellas and a ustedes, or replaces a plural feminine noun (e.g. las casas), or replaces several feminine names (e.g. María y Carla)
We met them (fem) at the party
Nosotros las conocimos en la fiesta
party - la fiesta. Note that the direct-object pronoun (e.g. las) usually goes between the subject and the verb
We are going to see him soon
Vamos a verlo pronto
Note that when a full verb phrase is used, the direct-object pronoun may be attached at the end of the infinitive. It is also acceptable to say Nosotros lo vamos a ver
We saw him at the movie theater
Lo vimos en el cine
movie theater - el cine
Pancho does not have very good sight, therefore he doesn't see me
Pancho no tiene muy buena vista, por eso no me ve
sight - la vista. Note that when using a negation, the direct-object pronoun goes in between no and the verb (e.g. no me ve)
Pronombres de Objeto Directo
- me (yo)
- te (tú)
- lo, la (él/ella/ud)
- nos (nosotros)
- os (vosotros)
- los, las (ellos/ellas/uds)
What is an indirect object?
An indirect object (I.O.) is a noun or pronoun for which the verb's actions are intended and answers the questions "to whom" and "for whom":
- I make Jaime lunch. IO: for Jaime DO: lunch
- I sent Marta a letter. IO: to Marta DO: a letter
- to me
- to you
- to him/her
- to us
- to you
- to them
Pronombres de Objeto Indirecto
- me (yo)
- te (tú)
- le (él/ella/ud)
- nos (nosotros)
- os (vosotros)
- les (ellos/ellas/uds)
He bought me these books.
He bought me them.
Él me compró estos libros.
Él me los compró.
to me - me. Note that the indirect-object pronoun goes before the direct-object pronoun
Rosa bought you these apples.
She bought you them
Rosa te compró estas manzanas.
Te las compró
to you - te
We bought these chairs for Rafael.
We bought these chairs for him.
We bought them for him
Nosotros compramos estas sillas para Rafael.
Nosotros le compramos estas sillas.
Nosotros se las compramos
to him, to her, to you (ud) - le. Note that when the indirect object pronoun le is followed by the direct-object pronouns lo, la, los or las, you must change le to se
I did not buy this desk for my son.
I did not buy him this desk.
I did not buy it for him
No compré este escritorio para mi hijo.
No le compré este escritorio.
No se lo compré
desk - el escritorio
They did not send us the letters.
They never sent them to us
Ellos no nos enviaron las cartas.
Nunca nos las enviaron
to us - nos
I didn't buy these pens for Marcos and Pamela
I didn't buy these pens for them
I didn't buy them for them
No compré estas plumas para Marcos y Pamela
No les compré estas plumas
No se las compré
to them, to you (plural) - les
They sent you (vosotros) a letter.
They sent it to you (vosotros)
Ellos os enviaron una carta.
Os la enviaron
to you (vosotros) - os
TO GIVE (Preterite)
- I gave
- You gave
- He/She gave
- We gave
- You gave
- They gave
DAR (Tiempo Pretérito)
- Yo di
- Tú diste
- Él/Ella/Ud dio
- Nosotros dimos
- Vosotros disteis
- Ellos/Ellas/Uds dieron
Remember that the conjugations for dar in the preterite tense are irregular
I gave the book to Miguel
Le di el libro a Miguel
Note that we repeat the indirect object pronoun le despite the fact that we still say a Miguel. The indirect object pronoun is always used whether or not the actual object is stated
I bought the book from Miguel
Le compré el libro a Miguel
Note that the word comprar, as well as a few similar words (e.g. robar, quitar), often uses the preposition a to denote the person from whom the item is being purchased, rather than using de. Confusingly, this sentence could also mean that you are buying the book "for" Miguel, depending on context.
The sad part is that he never knew his grandfather
Lo triste es que nunca conoció a su abuelo
Note that the word lo is used as a neuter article to indicate "the ___ part." Another common example is lo bueno ("the good part")
The part about eating made me hungry
Lo de comer me dio hambre
the part about - lo de. Note that the phrase lo de is used to denote "the part about", or "all this business about"
He doesn't understand how handsome he is
Él no entiende lo guapo que es
how (to express degree) - lo. Note that the use of the neuter lo here has nothing to do with gender. You would also say Ella no entiende lo guapa que es.
She tells me she is American, but I don't believe her
Me dice que es americana, pero no le creo
to tell - decir. Note that the word decir means "to say" when there is no indirect object (such as me), but "to tell" when there is an indirect object
TO SAY/TELL (Preterite)
- I said
- You said
- He/She said
- We said
- You said
- They said
DECIR (Tiempo Pretérito)
- Yo dije
- Tú dijiste
- Él/Ella/Ud dijo
- Nosotros dijimos
- Vosotros dijisteis
- Ellos/Ellas/Uds dijeron
Did they tell you where the bathroom is?
¿Te dijeron dónde está el baño?
they said/told - dijeron. Note that decir is irregular in the preterite tense
I don't care if you come or not
(A mí) no me importa si vienes o no
I care - me importa. (Literally "It is important to me.") Note that this verb works similarly to verbs like gustar, because the object of "care" in English becomes the subject of the Spanish importar
Apparently, she doesn´t care
Por lo visto, (a ella) no le importa
apparently - por lo visto. Literally, por lo visto translates to "by that which is seen"
What is a reflexive verb in Spanish?
Verbs that reflect back to the subject doing the action. Although these verbs can often be used in a non-reflexive context, they are most generally used to show that the noun is acting on itself and are very commonly used among Spanish-speakers
What are the reflexive pronouns in Spanish?
- me (yo)= myself
- te (tú)= yourself
- se (él/ella/ud)= himself, herself, yourself
- nos (nosotros)= ourselves
- os (vosotros)= yourselves
- se (ellos/ellas/uds)= themselves, yourselves
I shave my grandfather
Yo afeito a mi abuelo
to shave - afeitar
I help my grandfather shave himself
Yo le ayudo a mi abuelo a afeitarse
to shave oneself - afeitarse. Note that since my grandfather is both the shaver and the recipient of the shaving, we use the reflexive pronoun se
My aunt bathes her baby
Mi tía baña a su bébé
to bathe - bañar
We bathe (ourselves) every day
Nosotros nos bañamos todos los días
to bathe oneself - bañarse. Note that this sentence construction is actually indistinguishable from "we bathe each other". We can usually know which connotation is meant by context!
I am going to approach the handsome man
Voy a acercarme al hombre guapo
to approach - acercarse a
I could never get used to the cold
Nunca pude acostumbrarme al frío
to get used to - acostumbrarse a
Her baby looks so much like her
Su bébé se parece tanto a ella
to look like - parecer(se) a
I fell asleep at 8:00
Me dormí a las 8:00
to fall asleep - dormirse. Note that "to fall asleep" is dormirse, while "to sleep" is simply dormir
Paulo and Luisa went to bed at eight forty-five
Paulo y Luisa se acostaron a las nueve menos cuarto
to lie down, to go to bed - acostarse
No, my grandpa doesn't have hair anymore
No, mi abuelo ya no tiene cabello
hair - el cabello, el pelo. Note that the use of cabello or pelo depends on the region
Before eating, we have to buy food and cook it
Antes de comer, tenemos que comprar la comida y cocinarla
before - antes (de)
What is the difference between the words sé and se?
sé is the conjugation of saber in the first person singular (yo sé = "I know")
se is the reflexive pronoun for the third person singular (él, ella, ud) or plural (ellos/ellas/uds)
What is the difference between the words té and te?
té means "tea"
te is the reflexive pronoun for the second person singular (tú)
We brush our hair before going to bed
Nos cepillamos el cabello antes de acostarnos
to brush oneself - cepillarse. Remember that body parts are usually not possessive, so we do not say nuestro cabello. The possession is shown by the reflexive pronoun nos
They comb themselves every day
Ellos se peinan todos los días
to comb onself - peinarse. Note that peinarse is often used to mean "to brush", but only refers to hair
After bathing, I am going to shave
Después de bañarme, yo me voy a afeitar OR Después de bañarme, yo voy a afeitarme
after - después (de). Note that with a composite verb like voy a + infinitive, you can place the reflexive pronoun in between the subject and the conjugated verb
We are going to say goodbye at the restaurant
Vamos a despedirnos en el restaurante
to say goodbye - despedirse. Notice that despedir means "to fire" while despedirse means "to say goodbye". Although many verbs have a similar meaning to their reflexive counterparts, others have rather different meanings
The noise woke me up
El ruido me despertó
to wake (someone) up - despertar
Jaime wakes up early on Mondays
Jaime se despierta temprano los lunes
to wake (oneself) up - despertarse
We had so much fun at your party last weekend!
¡Nos divertimos tanto en tu fiesta el fin de semana pasado!
to have fun, to enjoy oneself - divertirse
We were unable to lift that table
No pudimos levantar esa mesa
to lift - levantar
We were unable to get up this morning because we went to bed very late last night
No pudimos levantarnos esta mañana porque nos acostamos muy tarde anoche
to get up - levantarse. Note that levantarse means to physically get up (e.g., out of bed), while despertarse means "to wake up"
I washed my car yesterday
Ayer lavé mi carro
to wash - lavar
Pablo and Mariana, did you wash your hands already?
Pablo y Mariana, ¿ya se lavaron las manos?
to wash oneself - lavarse
My friends call me Memo, but my name is Guillermo
Mis amigos me llaman Memo, pero mi nombre es Guillermo
to be called - llamarse. Remember that the usual way of saying "My name is __" is Me llamo ___, or "I call myself ___"
You need to hurry up because I'm in a hurry
Tienes que apurarte porque tengo prisa
to hurry up - apurarse; apresurarse
Sandra never puts on makeup, and she is very pretty anyway
Sandra nunca se maquilla, y es muy bonita de todos modos
to put on makeup - maquillarse
My mom worries about me every day
Mi mamá se preocupa por mí todos los días
to worry about - preocuparse por
My niece is worried
Mi sobrina está preocupada
worried - preocupado
José's aunts complain about his girlfriend because she is not very nice
Las tías de José se quejan de su novia porque no es muy simpática
to complain about - quejarse de
You are always buying yourself clothes
Siempre estás comprándote ropa
clothes - la ropa. Note that you can add the reflexive pronoun to the end of a present participle (-ando or -iendo), but you must put an accent mark on the appropriate syllable to maintain the right inflection
TO PUT (Preterite Tense)
- I put
- You put
- He/She put
- We put
- You put
- They put
PONER (Tiempo Pretérito)
- Yo puse
- Tú pusiste
- Él/Ella/Ud puso
- Nosotros pusimos
- Vosotros pusisteis
- Ellos/Ellas/Uds pusieron
I put the shoes in my room before going to bed last night
Puse los zapatos en mi cuarto antes de acostarme anoche
I put (preterite) - puse. Note that this is an irregular preterite conjugation of the verb poner
Marcos doesn't want to put on those clothes
Marcos no quiere ponerse esa ropa
to put on, to wear - ponerse. Remember that the non-reflexive counterpart of ponerse is poner "to put, to place"
She became red due to the embarrassment
Se puso roja de vergüenza
to become (+ adj) - ponerse, hacerse
Valentina became furious when she couldn't go out
Valentina se puso furiosa cuando no pudo salir
furious - furioso
I want to become a doctor
Quiero llegar a ser médico
to become (through effort) - llegar a ser. This phrase is used when referring to what someone wants to become or what someone became (e.g. profession, a superlative)
I don't want to sit there; I want to sit over there
No quiero sentarme allí; quiero sentarme allá
to sit (down) - sentarse
She looks very beautiful with that dress on
Ella se ve muy guapa con ese vestido puesto
to look (to be seen as)- verse. Note that this is the reflexive form of the verb ver ("to see")
They gave me the key
Ellos me dieron la llave
key - la llave
Fernanda is only three years old, and she already dresses herself on her own
Fernanda sólo tiene tres añitos y ya se viste sola
to dress oneself - vestirse. Note that vestir changes the -e- to -i- in most present tense conjugations
I have sort of a big mouth, right?
Tengo la boca un poco grande, ¿verdad?
mouth - la boca. Remember that body parts and articles of clothing are denoted by articles rather than the possessive (e.g. la boca, not mi boca)
I have very long arms, don’t you think?
Tengo los brazos muy largos, ¿no crees?
arm - el brazo
He slept late today
Él durmió tarde hoy
he/she/it slept (preterite)- durmió. Note that dormir changes its stem from -o- to -u- in some forms of the preterite, making it slightly irregular
My arm fell asleep. Will you help me move it?
Se me durmió el brazo. ¿Me ayudas a moverlo?
Note that the construction Se me durmió demonstrates a lack of agency or intention by the subject of the sentence and is a construction that is used very often in Spanish
Rosa always loses her keys
A Rosa siempre se le pierden las llaves
to lose - perder. Note the lack of agency on the part of the subject. It is as though "the keys always lose themselves from her", in order to shift responsibility away from Rosa
Does your arm hurt?
¿Te duele el brazo?
to hurt - doler. Note that doler is part of the group of irregular verbs whose stem changes from -o- to -ue- in the present tense
I will go down soon, I just need to do some things first
Bajo pronto, sólo tengo que hacer unas cosas primero
to go down - bajar
I am worried because little Mariana has a high fever
Estoy preocupada porque Marianita tiene una fiebre alta
fever - la fiebre
My fever went down
Se me bajó la fiebre
Note that we use the definite article la to denote "my" fever, and we use the reflexive pronoun me to denote that I was the one affected. Mi fiebre ha bajado would sound too direct and awkward
Jimena married Eduardo yesterday
Jimena se casó ayer con Eduardo
to marry - casarse con
He is the priest that married my aunt and uncle
Ése es el cura que casó a mis tíos
priest - el cura, el sacerdote, el padre. Note that ése has an accent because it refers to a person who you've been talking about, but whose name you have omitted (e.g. ése es mi primo vs. quiero ese lápiz)
Do you know a cure for the fever?
¿Conoces una cura para la fiebre?
cure - la cura. Do not confuse this with el cura ("priest")
I broke my ankle last Tuesday
Se me rompió el tobillo el martes pasado
ankle - el tobillo. Again, rather than saying Me rompí el tobillo, we use indirect object pronouns to clarify that this was not intentional
My head hurts; I don't know what I did last night
Me duele la cabeza; no sé qué hice anoche
head - la cabeza
When I went to the supermarket, I saw a girl with a very pretty face
Cuando fui al supermercado, vi a una niña con una cara muy bonita
face - la cara
David has a very big neck, right?
David tiene un cuello muy grande, ¿verdad?
neck - el cuello
We have very small fingers
Tenemos los dedos muy pequeños
finger - el dedo
I didn't bite you! It was Jorge!
¡No te mordí! ¡Fue Jorge!
to bite - morder
She bites with her teeth
Ella muerde con los dientes
tooth - el diente
My forehead gets hot when I have a fever
Mi frente se pone caliente cuando tengo fiebre
forehead - la frente. Do not confuse this with el frente, which means "a (military) front"
Look at her lips!
¡Mira sus labios!
lip - el labio
The little boy always sticks out his tongue
El niñito siempre saca la lengua
tongue - la lengua. Also note that to say "to stick out (one's tongue)" you must use sacar, which means "to take out" in other contexts
The baby has little chubby cheeks
El bebé tiene mejillitas gorditas
cheek - la mejilla, el cachete. Although mejilla is a more standard way of saying "cheek", certain regions say cachete
I can't believe that I forgot about you
No puedo creer que me olvidé de ti
to forget - olvidarse de
What are you all laughing about?
¿De qué se están riendo?
to laugh about - reírse de. Note the irregular form of the present participle riendo
Why are you smiling so much?
¿Porqué estás sonriendo tanto?
to smile - sonreír. Note that sonreír has a similar present participle to reirse ("to laugh"), but it is not reflexive
She has a pretty smile
Ella tiene una sonrisa bonita
smile - la sonrisa
We hurt ourselves yesterday, and now we can't walk
Nos lastimamos ayer, y ahora no podemos caminar
to hurt oneself, to get injured - lastimarse
It is very important to me
Es muy importante para mí
important - importante. Remember that we could have also said Me importa mucho
The teacher got angry with me
El maestro se enojó conmigo
to get angry (with) - enojarse (con), enfadarse (con)
When I get angry, I count from one to ten
Cuando me enojo, cuento de uno a diez
to count - contar. Note that contar undergoes an -o- to -ue- stem change in the present tense, like the verb doler
Can I count on you to help me buy clothes for my boyfriend?
¿Puedo contar contigo para ayudarme a comprarle ropa a mi novio?
to count on - contar con
That bag is very big
Esa bolsa es muy grande
(hand) bag - la bolsa (de mano) , el bolso
She put all the food in the bag
Ella metió toda la comida en la bolsa
to put in - meter en
Marcos has a big nose
Marcos tiene una nariz grande
nose - la nariz
I don't believe you that Victor broke his friend's nose, because he never picks a fight with anyone
No te creo que Victor le rompió la nariz a su amigo, porque él nunca se mete con nadie
to pick a fight with - meterse con. Note that this literally means "to put oneself in with"
Juan hurt his wrist last week
Juan se lastimó la muñeca la semana pasada
wrist - la muñeca. Note that muñeca also means "doll"
Carmen and Pablo's ears hurt
A Carmen y a Pablo les duelen las orejas
ear - la oreja
Who hurt their leg?
¿Quién se lastimó la pierna?
leg - la pierna
Do you remember my cousin Maria José? She's the one who is going to marry Rodrigo
¿Te acuerdas de mi prima Maria José? Es la que va a casarse con Rodrigo
to remember - acordarse de. For a non-reflexive alternative, you may also use the synonym recordar
You (Uds) always make fun of little Andrés. It is not very nice
Ustedes siempre se burlan de Andresito. No es muy simpático
to make fun of - burlarse de
What time did you (Uds) leave the party?
¿A qué hora se fueron de la fiesta?
to leave - irse. Note that by simply making the verb ir ("to go") reflexive, we transform the verb to mean "to leave"
Whose leg hurts?
¿A quién le duele la pierna?
whose - ¿a quién? Remember that ¿de quién? is still used to ask "whose" when talking about possession (e.g. "Whose book is this?"). Also note the difference between doler "to hurt" and lastimarse "to get hurt"