Direct Object Pronouns in Spanish

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  • 0:01 What Is a Direct object?
  • 2:07 What Are the Direct…
  • 5:38 Object Pronouns in Action
  • 8:15 Applications & Review
  • 9:00 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Chris Travis
In this lesson, we are reminded of the difference between direct and indirect objects. We also discuss how to form the direct object pronouns and begin to put them into use in simple constructions.

What is a Direct Object?

The direct object pronouns in Spanish serve the exact same function as they do in English, and it is not too difficult to identify them as needed. It is a bit more complicated to put them into use. This lesson provides that essential introduction, leaving more complex applications to subsequent lessons. Let's consider the sentence 'She wants the apples' (Ella quiere las manzanas).

In both English and Spanish, the direct object is that which receives the direct action of the verb. It answers the question of what or who is affected by the verb. Sometimes in class, I even say 'What gets verbed?' If the verb is to eat, then 'What gets eaten?' By now, you are sure of the answer: the apples (las manzanas).

What about the indirect object? Well, there isn't one, yet. If we say 'She buys the apples for Marcos,' then Marcos becomes our indirect object. But, let's stay with that which receives the direct action of the verb. What is the direct object of the following sentences?

He buys the car on Monday.

She gives books away.

I like/love you.

They read stories to the children.

One of these sentences has an indirect object as well, so be careful! That's right, our direct objects are car, books, you, and stories. All of these objects got, well, 'verbed.' The stories are read TO the children, so 'children' is an example of an indirect object. In Spanish:

Él compra el coche el lunes.

Ella regala libros.

Yo te quiero.

Ellos leen cuentos a los niños.

What Are the Direct Object Pronouns?

As with English, the pronoun takes the place of the noun. We use them to make things flow, to make them easier, to avoid wordy repetition. Instead of car, books, you, and stories we use it, them, you, and them. Let's take a look at our list of direct object pronouns in Spanish and then see them in action. Los objetos directos en Español: me, te, lo, la, nos, os, los, las. Let's take a second to try to memorize them.

me, te, lo, la, nos, os, los, las

me, te, lo, la, nos, os, los, las

me, te, lo, la, nos, os, los, las

If we're substituting a pronoun to take the place of el coche for the first sentence, which one do we choose? Él compra el coche el lunes becomes Él lo compra (He buys IT). We chose lo because it is masculine and singular. It is the third-person, singular form. What about Ella regala libros? In this case, we would choose los to stand for los libros: Ella los regala. 'I love you' was Yo TE quiero and for 'They read stories:' Ellos LOS leen.

But wait, why was it LOS leen? How do we know it could not just be LAS leen or LO leen? We have to go back to the original direct object, which was cuentos (stories): LOS cuentos. Therefore, we choose los. Help me fill out the column of direct object pronouns that correspond to the particular objects. We will use the verb 'to see' to help us out. Yo veo:

Original Sentence Direct Object Pronuons
Yo veo los perros (I see the dogs). Yo los veo (I see them).
Yo veo las amigas (I see the friends). Yo las veo (I see them).
Yo veo a Juan (I see Juan). Yo lo veo (I see him).
Yo veo a ustedes (I see you all). Yo los veo (I see you).
Yo veo la flor (I see the flower). Yo la veo (I see it).

You may have noticed that there is a distinct possibility of ambiguity. I see him is yo lo veo, but that lo could refer to almost anything that happens to be masculine and singular. If I was talking about a book, un libro, it would also be yo lo veo. In this case we base our understanding on the context. If you just asked someone whether they see the book, and they say yo lo veo, I think we know what they mean!

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