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ESL Object Pronouns: Games & Exercises

Instructor: Yolanda Reinoso Barzallo

Yolanda holds a CELTA Cambridge, a Juris Doctorate, and a Master of Public Administration. She is a published author of fiction in Spanish.

This lesson introduces students to object pronouns and provides exercises and games to help students practice both direct and indirect object pronouns.

Taking Fluency to a Higher Level

How repetitious and boring would the English language be without object pronouns? Consider this paragraph:

Mary is my friend. Today is Mary's birthday and I want to give Mary a gift. Mary's favorite dessert is cheesecake, so I can give Mary a cheesecake.

Have your students count the number of times the name 'Mary' is used in the preceding passage to illustrate that repetition is boring. Then explain that object pronouns can be used as substitutes for nouns to avoid repetition and increase fluency. Demonstrate as follows:

Mary is my friend. Today is her birthday and I want to give her a gift. Mary's favorite dessert is cheesecake, so I can give her a cheesecake.

Next discuss the two different types of object pronouns: direct object pronouns and indirect object pronouns.

Direct Object and Indirect Object Pronouns

Object pronouns are words we use to refer to the 'object' that receives an action. Objects can receive the action directly (direct objects) or indirectly (indirect objects).

To illustrate, in the clause 'I can give Mary a cheesecake', we have 'cheesecake' as the direct object of the verb 'give' because it receives the action directly. To know how to identify the direct object, students can ask the questions 'What?' or 'Who?' The question in this case is 'What can I give?'

In this same clause, 'Mary' is the indirect object of the action. To know how to identify the indirect object, students can ask the questions 'To/for whom?', or 'For what?' The question in this case is 'To whom do I want to give a cheesecake?'

Personal Pronouns and Object Pronouns

Finally, help your students learn the object pronouns associated with each personal pronoun. Use a table such as the following:

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