Unidad 1: Los conceptos que debes saber

4. Las oraciones: el sujeto y el predicado

Before we begin our discussion on sentence structures, we want to remind you of another unique characteristic to Spanish question and exclamation formation. In contrast to English punctuation, Spanish punctuation requires that we mark the beginning of the question and/or exclamation with an open question mark ”¿” or open exclamation mark “¡” and close at the end. ¿Cómo? or ¡Qué gusto!

a) La oración

A sentence is set of words that is complete in itself, typically containing a subject and predicate, conveying a statement, question or exclamation, and consisting of a main clause and sometimes one or more subordinate clauses.

a.1 El sujeto

As in English, Spanish sentences require a subject. These may be proper nouns (specific names such as Elsa, Emilio, la doctora Paz) or common nouns (the children, the people, the schools). One may replace the proper or common noun with a subject pronoun. If it is obvious as to who is the subject based on the verb conjugation, you do not need to write the subject pronoun.

The subject pronouns are divided into three groups: first, second and third person pronouns. The word person in this case does not necessarily mean a human being. It is a grammatical term that can refer to any noun. In the following chart are the subject pronouns in English and in Spanish grouped by person.

The “person” has a number: singular or plural.

Person singular Subject pronoun Pronombre personal Person plural Subject pronoun Pronombre personal
1st I yo 1st we nosotros/as
2nd you 2nd you vosotros/as
3rd he, she, it él, ella, usted 3rd they ellos/ellas/ustedes

The personal pronouns have gender in Spanish: masculine, feminine and neuter. Masculine is used as neuter (without a gender) in “nosotros” and “vosotros” when both males and females comprise a group.


  1. What do the numbers 1st, 2nd, 3rd in the column persona mean? Persona or person refers to the perspective one takes as the subject. First (primera) person includes myself (whether I am speaking about myself or speaking about others and me). Second (segunda) person addresses one or more people in a friendly, familiar way. Third (tercera) person addresses one or more people in a formal, polite way in Spanish which is different than in English. However, as in English, the third person also refers to another person or other people as in he, she, you or they.
  2. What does número mean? Número or number refers to the quantity within the subject. Are we communicating about one or many? Singular or plural?
  3. There are several pronouns mentioned in third person. Do they mean the same thing? No, usted and ustedes mean you (formal), while él = he; ella = she; ellos/ellas = they. You will see that the 3rd person singular pronouns share a verb conjugation and that the 3rd person plural pronouns share another verb conjugation.

Practiquemos: Which subject pronoun would you use when talking about the following people?

  1. Mi amigo_____________________
  2. Mi amigo y yo _________________
  3. Pedro y Juan__________________
  4. María, Lorena y yo ___________________
  5. Myself (mí mismo) ___________________

Tú, usted, vosotros, ustedes… Which you is used?

You know that each of the words above means “you”. Which one you use is a matter of familiarity with the person you are addressing. Putting your best foot forward starts with a proper introduction. When addressing someone you do not know, always use usted (singular) or ustedes (plural—addressing more than one person you do not know). When speaking with someone of title always use the usted form. Regardless of who the person is in terms of title, if you do not know them as a friend, then the best rule of thumb is to use usted. If you are talking to a friend, then you will use the more friendly familiar form, .

The chart below will help you organize your thoughts on which “you” you will choose.

Singular Plural Regions Target Audience
Friendly/familiar Vosotros Spain Friends, family, children, classmates
Ustedes Latin America/regions other than Spain Same as above
Polite/formal Usted (Ud.) Ustedes (Uds.) Spain Anyone you do not know (this includes employees in stores, restaurants etc); people who have earned a title; elders; your instructors, etc.
Usted (Ud.) Ustedes (Uds.) Latin America/regions other than Spain Same as above


  1. Will I offend someone if I use “tú” by mistake? No, many heritage speakers appreciate the fact you are making an effort to speak with them. You should still strive to use the polite forms with all those you meet.
  2. Does Uds. and ellos / ellas mean the same thing? ________________
  3. Define the difference as to when one would use Uds. in contrast with
    ellos/ellas: ____________________________

a.2 El predicado

The subject in the sentences is who is doing the action. The predicate is the action and some extra information. The verb is the core of the predicate. A sentence cannot exist if we don’t have a subject and a conjugated verb.

Verbs that are not conjugated are known as the INFINITIVE form of the verb. In English, we recognize the infinitive form of the verb because the word has “to” before the action: to sing, to drink, to live. We recognize the infinitive of the verbs in Spanish by the ending: “AR”, “ER” or “IR” at the end of the verb infinitive: cantar, beber, vivir.

A conjugated verb is the core of a sentence. It defines the action that the subject is doing: I am, you are, she is… yo soy, tú eres, ella es. The person that does the action is known as the subject of the sentence. A conjugated verb is the six possible forms of the verb for each one of the 6 persons (primera, segunda, tercera, en singular y en plural).

El modo, the mood: a category or set of categories of a verb that indicates the attitude of the speaker toward what is being said, as in expressing a fact, a question, a possibility, a wish, or a command. The following definitions will help you organize your thoughts and recall on the moods in Spanish:

Indicative: is defined as an action that is actual, factual and certain.

    • Several tenses that you will learn throughout your courses which are:
      • Present
      • Preterit
      • Imperfect
      • Present perfect
      • Past perfect
      • Future
      • Future perfect
      • Conditional
      • Conditional perfect

Imperative: is based on commands and giving orders.

    • There is one tense
    • The timeframe is the present
    • One commands someone to do something at this moment (the present.)

*The imperative mood only has one tense or time—present—which makes sense when you think about if you give someone a command you want them to do the action now (in the present.)

Subjunctive: is defined as something that is uncertain, doubtful, hypothetical; based on the emotions, wishes, wants, hopes, needs of one subject toward the actions of another subject.

    • Several tenses that you will learn throughout your courses which are:
      • Present
      • Imperfect
      • Present perfect
      • Future (literature based)
      • Past perfect (pluperfect)

A progressive form also exists in each tense which serves to give emphasis to the time frame in which an action is happening or was happening. When thinking about something you are doing at this moment, you will communicate it using the present progressive.

a.2.1 Las conjugaciones en el modo indicativo, en el tiempo presente en verbos regulares.

Conjugando verbos regulares en el presente del indicativo.

Remember there are three categories of verbs AR, ER, and IR verbs. When they are left in their unconjugated form, they are referred to as infinitives. Many verbs are regular, in other words they follow a specific pattern of conjugation. Let’s review the patterns of the verbs in the indicative mood in the present tense.

In the following charts you will see 1era for primera (first) in the persona column. The term 2da refers to segunda (second) for second person and 3era refers to tercera as in third person in terms of grammar.

AR verbs:
Persona Singular Las
Plural Las
1era yo o nosotros (as) amos
2da as vosotros (as) áis
3era él, ella, Ud. a ellos,
ellas, Uds.
Hablar (to speak)
Persona Singular Persona Plural
1era hablo 1era hablamos
2da hablas 2da habláis
3era habla 3era hablan
ER verbs:
Persona Singular Las
Plural Las
1era yo o nosotros (as) emos
2da es vosotros (as) éis
3era él, ella, Ud. e ellos, ellas, Uds. en
Comer (to eat)
Persona Singular Persona Plural
1era como 1era comemos
2da comes 2da coméis
3era come 3era comen
IR verbs:
Persona Singular Las
Plural Las
1era yo o nosotros (as) imos
2da es vosotros (as) ís
3era él, ella, Ud. e ellos,
ellas, Uds.
Vivir (to live)
Persona Singular Persona Plural
1era vivo 1era vivimos
2da vives 2da vivís
3era vive 3era viven

The endings for er and ir verbs are the same with exception of the 1era and 2da persona plural.


Why are we learning the “vosotros” forms? I never had to know these in my other Spanish classes before now?

The vosotros form is used in Spain and has a variation in some of the southern Latin American countries. Although, the vosotros form is not used in all the Spanish speaking countries, it merits being taught and learned so as to recognize it in spoken and written communication. As you know cultural awareness goes beyond learning discrete cultural points. Knowing the cultural rules governing communication within Spanish is a factor in your success. Vosotros and its correct use indicate the speaker understands one of the cultural variations.

Practiquemos: Fill in the verbs in the present indicative tense.

En España, la persona que ___________ (cumplir) años _________ (invitar) a sus amigos a tomar algo el día de su cumpleaños. Por ejemplo, ellos ______ (desear) invitar a sus compañeros de la universidad a tomar un café o una cerveza y si se ______ (reunir) (get together) para estudiar, a veces ______(llevar) algo para comer. Es decir, la persona que tiene el cumpleaños es la persona que ______ (pagar). Ellos ______ (beber) algo y los amigos ______ (hacer) un brindis por la persona que ________ (celebrar) su cumpleaños. En su día, la persona __________ (recibir) regalos y es típico abrir cada regalo inmediatamente, en el momento de recibir cada uno y no más tarde, todos juntos (together). En América, en algunos países como México, Venezuela o Colombia cuando una persona ______(cumplir) años, los amigos invitan al que cumple años a comer o beber. ¡Es diferente! Pero en los dos continentes se abren los regalos inmediatamente.

a.2.2 Conjugando verbos irregulares en el presente del indicativo.

The Irregular verbs have a pattern that varies from the verbs above. Many common verbs are irregular and some of them have a unique pattern such as tener (to have), ser (to be), estar (to be), or ir (to go). These are commonly used verbs in Spanish that you must know well.

P. Personal Tener Ser* Estar Ir*
yo tengo soy estoy voy
tienes eres estás vas
él,ella,usted tiene es está va
nosotros/as tenemos somos estamos vamos
vosotros/as tenéis sois estáis vais
tienen son están van

*Single syllable verbs in the present tense indicative do not have written accents. There are no accents in ser and ir.

As you recall irregular verbs will have some type of pattern whether it be a change in the ending in the “yo” form or a spelling or orthographic change in the root (la raíz). Whenever you learn a new verb, look for similarities in the pattern with another verb. Common irregular verbs in the INDICATIVE MOOD in the PRESENT TENSE are noted below as part of your review.

1. The first group of irregularities that we will review are the verbs that change only in the “yo” form and follow the pattern in the other forms.

“GO verb” group: the “yo” form ends in “go”, or there is a “medial g” placed before the regular yo “o”.

Hacer (to do/to make) à hago, haces, hace, hacemos, hacéis, hacen

Salir (to go out/leave) à salgo, sales, sale, salimos, salís, salen

Poner (to put/place) à pongo, pones, pone, ponemos, ponéis, ponen

Valer (to be worth) à valgo, vales, vale, valemos, valéis, valen

Oír * (to hear) à oigo, oyes, oye, oimos, oís, oyen

*In the case of oír we have an extra irregularity produced by the phonetic rules.

Another pattern that exists in the “GO verbs” is when the root ends in a vowel. In this case we use “ig” instead of only the “g” as in:

Caer (to fall) à caigo, caes, cae, caemos, caéis, caen

Traer (to bring) à traigo, traes, trae, traemos, traéis, traen

Decir* (to say or tell) à digo, dices, dice, decimos, decís, dicen

*Again we find another exception produced by the phonetic in decir:

Another pattern in the “yo” form occurs in the verbs with an infinitive that ends in “ucir” or in “cer”. In these cases we need to add a “Z” before the “C” in the root.

Conducir (to drive) à conduzco, conduces, conduce, conducimos, conducís, conducen

Traducir (to translate) à traduzco, traduces, traduce, traducimos, traducís, traducen

Producir (to produce) à produzco, produces, produce, producimos, producís, producen

Conocer (to know *) à conozco, conoces, conoce, conocemos, conocéis, conocen

*Conocer also means to be acquainted with a person, place or familiarity with a person or place.

Several verbs have a similar change to that of “conocer”, such as ESTABLECER—to establish, OFRECER—to offer, MERECER—to deserve and AGRADECER—to thank.

Write the conjugation of MERECER. As you do so, pay attention to the spelling.

singular    plural   
yo nosotros (as)
vosotros (as)
él, ella, Ud. ellos, ellas, Uds.
2. The second group of irregular verbs has stem or root changes in all forms except nosotros and vosotros.

A graphic of a boot.One factor that makes an irregular verb “irregular” is that the root changes. This is also referred to as a stem change. To provide you with a visual for this concept, you may hear the term “boot verb” as demonstrated in the shaded cells with the verb “empezar”.

yo empiezo nosotros empezamos
tú empiezas vosotros empezáis
él/ella/Ud. empieza ellos/ellas/Uds. empiezan

The BOOT VERBS (stem changers) change in the root but the endings are the same as they would be for AR, ER or IR verbs. The stem change applies to all forms except NOSOTROS and VOSOTROS.

In the example above, empezar is a BOOT verb that changes the “e” to “ie” in the root.

Other BOOT verbs that follow the pattern of empezar are:

Pensar (e à ie) — to think

Comenzar (e à ie) — to begin

Cerrar (e à ie) –- to close

Querer* (e à ie) — to want, wish, love

Entender (e à ie) to understand

Preferir* (e à ie) — to prefer

*Remember the endings for AR, ER and IR verbs are the same as you learned already

VENIR (to come) is a common BOOT verb that has one conjugation similar to the “go” verbs and some conjugations similar to the stem changing verbs.

Singular Plural
yo vengo nosotros (as) venimos
vienes vosotros (as) venís
él, ella, Ud. viene ellos, ellas, Uds. vienen

Do you recognize a similar pattern to that of TENER? The difference between tener and venir occurs within the nosotros and vosotros forms as tener is an ER verb and venir is an IR verb.

The following BOOT verbs change the “o” to “ue” in the root. Again the endings are all the same as the regular AR, ER, IR endings.

Poder (o à ue) — to be able/can

Singular Plural
yo puedo nosotros (as) podemos
puedes vosotros (as) podéis
él, ella, Ud. puede ellos, ellas, Uds. pueden

Other BOOT verbs (o à ue) are ACORDAR—to remember, VOLVER—to return and DORMIR—to sleep.

The following are other types of BOOT verbs. Write the correct conjugations—pay attention to the changes.

JUGAR A (u à ue) — to play a game or sport.

Jugar is always followed by the preposition “a”.

Singular    Plural   
yo nosotros (as)
vosotros (as)
él, ella, ud. ellos, ellas, Uds.

SERVIR (eà i) —to serve

Singular    Plural   
yo nosotros (as)
vosotros (as)
él, ella, ud. ellos, ellas, Uds.

Observa video 2.1.6 and listen to the song about BOOT verbs (stem changing). It may help you recall the patterns.

¡Escribamos nuestras tarjetas! To help you learn these verbs and practice, you may choose to write flash cards. This is another strategy to help you master the information you are learning. If you choose to create them, you don’t need to write all the conjugations, you only need to write the infinitive or the verb in English, the infinitive of the verb in Spanish and the type of conjugation: regular AR, irregular, regular AR except with the yo form like hacer, boot verb (eài), etc.

¡Practiquemos! Conjugate the verbs in the present indicative.

Elisa __________ (escribir) en su página de Facebook. Hoy yo ____________(conducir) a la universidad. Yo ________ (volver) a la vida en una residencia, el horario de las clases y a la comida de las cafeterías. ¡Ay Dios mío! ¡Pobre de mí! Pero, yo me_________ (sentir) mal por mi madre. Mi madre _______ (llorar) al pensar en el momento de despedirnos.

Afortunadamente, yo ____________(conocer) a muchas personas. Mi compañera de cuarto __________ (jugar) al tenis en el equipo de la universidad. Yo _________ (tener) mucha tarea con cinco clases y un trabajo entonces no ________ (hacer) ningún deporte.

Mi amiga y yo _________(tener) unas clases juntas. Las clases ________ (comenzar) el martes entonces nosotras ________(poder) preparar el cuarto y ver a otros amigos.

Mi horario es muy bueno. ________(tener) clases a las 9:30, a las 10:30 y las 11:30. Luego nosotras ___________ (almorzar). A veces, mi amiga no ____________ (almorzar) porque ________ (tener) que ir a un partido (game) de tenis.

Mi amiga ___________ (preferir) sus clases en la mañana. Yo también ___________ (preferir) las clases en la mañana durante la primavera pero durante el invierno, el clima _________ (ser) muy frío entonces yo __________ (querer) las clases en la tarde. Cuando _________ (nevar—it snows), yo ________(dormir) como un oso (bear).

Ahora yo __________ (hacer) mi maleta (pack my suitcase) y _________ (poner) unos cuadernos y unas plumas en mi mochila. Mis padres __________ (querer) ir de compras para la comida. Siempre ellos __________ (pensar) que yo no como en la universidad. No es verdad. En el primer año, se ________ (decir—“they say”) que los estudiantes ________ (regresar) a casa con 15 libras (pounds) más. Yo __________(creer) que es el peso de los libros, la tarea y los préstamos estudiantiles.

b) Escribamos oraciones completas: sujeto + predicado.

We just reviewed each of the elements of a sentence, now it is the time to write complete sentences.

Recuerda que:

  • Las oraciones están formadas por el sujeto y el predicado.
  • El sujeto es el que hace la acción que el verbo indica.
  • El predicado está formado por el verbo CONJUGADO y su complemento (información adicional).
  • El verbo está CONJUGADO de acuerdo al MODO (la actitud del hablante) y al TIEMPO (en qué momento ocurre)
  • El verbo CONJUGADO es la parte más importante de la oración, se lo conoce como el núcleo del predicado. Sin verbo CONJUGADO no hay oración.

As in English, in Spanish we have three types of sentences:

1. Declarative sentences: used to express any statement positive or negative that ends in a period.

Subject + verb + extra information.

Beth speaks English and Spanish. à Beth habla inglés y español.

Rocío doesn’t speak French. à Rocío no habla francés.

2. Exclamatory sentences: used to express great emotions such as excitement, surprise, happiness and anger. They start and end with an exclamation point.

Subject + verb + extra information!

The dog is pretty! à ¡El perro es bonito!

We eat empanadas! à ¡Nosotros comemos empanadas!

3. Interrogative sentences: used to ask questions. The elements of the sentence change a little. We often have a question word, then the conjugated verb and then the subject. Questions always start and end with a question mark.

¿Question word + subject + verb + extra information?

What is your name? à ¿Cuál es nombre?

Who is he? à ¿Quién es él?

Another way to present a question is with the ¿Verb + subject + extra information?

Do you have my pen?–> ¿Tienes mi pluma?

Are you Mr. Salas?–> ¿Es Ud. el Sr. Salas?

Hagamos preguntas

Know the question words! The entire list of interrogatives or question words follows these tips on sentence formation.

Los Interrogativos or interrogative pronouns are words that introduce a question. Questions in Spanish will start with an opened question mark and will close with a question mark. All the interrogative pronouns in Spanish use the orthographic stress. Learn the meanings of the interrogatives that follow as it will make answering the questions easier knowing what is being asked.

Observa el video 2.1.7 para repasar los interrogativos.

Los Interrogativos Interrogative pronouns Ejemplo Example
¿Qué? What? ¿Qué estudia Rosa? What does Rosa study?
¿Cuál? Which/What? ¿Cuál es tu clase favorita? What is your favorite class?
¿Cuáles? Which/What? ¿Cuáles son sus clases favoritas? What are his favorite classes?
¿Por qué? Why? ¿Por qué no estudias? Why don’t you study?
¿Cómo? How? ¿Cómo está Ud.? How are you?
¿Cuándo? When? ¿Cuándo es tu clase de español? When is your Spanish class?
¿Dónde? Where? ¿Dónde viven ellos? Where do they live?
¿Adónde? To where? ¿Adónde vas? (To) Where are you going?
¿De dónde? From where? ¿De dónde es él? Where is he from?
¿En dónde? In where? ¿En dónde queda Cádiz? (In) where is Cadiz?
¿Quién? Who? ¿Quién enseña la clase de historia? Who teaches the history class?
¿Quiénes? Who(pl)? ¿Quiénes viven en esta casa? Who lives in this house?
¿Cuánto/a? How much? ¿Cuánto cuesta el libro? How much does the book cost?
¿Cuántos/as? How many? ¿Cuántas clases hay? How many classes are there?

Identify who your subject is and conjugate the verb for that first. A question may ask “Do you read books or do you watch movies?” By conjugating the main action in the sentence such as “read” or “watch”, you are capturing some of the other words in the question such as “do you read”. This means you do not translate the “do you” part of the question. It is all captured in the correct conjugation ¿Lees los libros o miras las películas?

  1. State who the subject is
  2. Extra information
    • Is he intelligent? à¿Es él inteligente?
    • Is she special? à¿Es ella especial?

In Spanish, you don’t need to change the order of the sentence to make a question; you only need to change the voice intonation. You will see both versions of word order for questions.

es inteligente. ß Affirmation

¿Él es inteligente? or ¿Es él inteligente? ß Interrogation

TAREA: Write in Spanish 10 questions, other than those above, that you will use to get to know another classmate.

Contestemos las preguntas: While we know that in our native language, sometimes a simple one word answer is sufficient to reply, we would like you to stretch your abilities and respond in complete sentences.

Knowing how to respond in terms of the subject conversion from questions to answers will lead to your success in communicating. In the chart below you will find a comparison of questions and answers. While the column noted with “you generally answer with” gives an option for the answer, it is possible to divert from these possible replies with another reply. For example, if someone asks “¿Trabaja él en Geneseo?” “Does he work at Geneseo?”, we suggested the reply have “él” in it. It is possible to reply, “No, but they work at Geneseo” as you are pointing out others in the vicinity. The point is to give beginning language learners some structure and then to progress from there to communicate well.

If a question is asked with You generally answer with
él or ella él or ella
Ud. yo
vosotros (as) nosotros (as)
ellos or ellas ellos or ellas
Uds. nosotros (as)

c) La concordancia

La concordancia means the subject and verb agreement according to person and number. There are other ways in which the Spanish language applies the concept of agreement (gender and number) to articles and adjectives.

c.1 ¿Cuáles son los artículos definidos e indefinidos?

Definidos e indefinidos What is the “e”? It is a conjunction; a word used to connect clauses, sentences or to coordinate words in the same sentence. “And” is a conjunction in English, “Y” is the equivalent in Spanish. “E” means “y = and” when a “Y” is followed by another word that begins with “i” or the sound “i” such as with “hijo”, we break up the two sounds by replacing the “y” with “e”. Estudio negocios y idiomas à Estudio negocios e idiomas. Now you have the sounds “eh” followed by “i” and can clearly hear the separation.

Definite and Indefinite Articles

Los artículos definidos Los artículos indefinidos
Singular Plural Singular Plural

Observa y estudia las notas 2.1.8 en el PowerPoint de la plataforma en línea. After you have studied the notes you will able to fill in the reasons for inclusion or omission in the following chart. Be aware to note when they are omitted for certain situations. Remember you must work on the material at home and bring the completed chart to class to be able to work with your peers reviewing the material and participating in conversations and exercises in class.

The reason to use or omit:

Los artículos definidos: hablan de algo conocido y puede ser identificado. Los artículos indefinidos: hablan de algo no conocido o que no puede ser identificado.

Apliquemos las razones y los artículos

Fill in the correct definite or indefinite article in the reading below. If no article should be used, write an X on the line. Be prepared to explain your reasons for your answers in class.

_______(1) lunes son muy ocupados. Tengo ________(2) clase de __________(3) inglés a ________(4) 9:30. Estudiamos ________(5) poco de _________(6) literatura de Shakespeare. Él tiene ________(7) docenas (dozens) de obras. Después voy a ________(8) clase de español a _________(9) 10:30. Es ________(10) mi clase favorita. Veo a ________(11) profesora Maradona que siempre habla _________(12) idioma. Ella es de ________(13) España. __________ (14) estudiantes en ________(15) español hacen toda __________(16) tarea. Hay _________(17) cosas que no entiendo pero puedo hacer ________ (18) preguntas. Si leo ___________(19) libro y veo __________(20) videos antes de ir a ________(21) clase, tengo ________(22) éxito.

Luego, como _______(23) almuerzo con mis amigos y voy a _______(24) biblioteca para estudiar ________(25) verbos. Voy a ________(26) reunión del club español con _______(27) Don Pato quien es de ________ (28) Ángeles, California para aprender más. Por _______(29) noche, tengo _________(30) biología. Quiero ser _________(31) médico y por eso pienso ir a _______(32) Universidad de Rochester. Es difícil porque cuesta _______(33) miles de dólares pero vale ________(34) pena.

_______(35) martes a _________(36) 1:00 tengo _________(37) laboratorio de __________(38) biología donde hago ________(39) experimentos. A ________(40) 4:00, voy a ________(41) historia. Estudiamos _________(42) período de _________(43) Renacimiento en __________(44) Europa. Es _______(45) período muy interesante.

c.2 Los adjetivos

Adjectives are another aspect of Spanish grammar that requires agreement (gender and number) with the nouns they describe.

Describing others: When you want to describe someone, you will use adjectives that correspond to the gender and number of the person(s). Remember all nouns in Spanish have a gender: feminine, masculine and neuter and are either a number (singular or plural). Adjectives must agree with the gender and number of the noun.

If talking about a male (one person who is male) or an object that is masculine in gender à choose adjectives that end in “o” or “e” (singular and masculine.)

If talking about more than one male or objects that are masculine in gender àchoose adjectives that end in “o” or “e” and add “s” to indicate plurality and the masculine gender.

If talking about a female (one person who is female) or an object that is feminine in gender à choose adjectives that end in “a” or “e” (singular and feminine.)

If talking about more than one female or objects that are feminine in gender àchoose adjectives that end in “a” or “e” and add “s” to indicate plurality and the feminine gender.A graphic of a woman in front of a movie camera.

A graphic of a finely dressed man on a red carpet, surrounded by stars.Brad Pitt es guapo, romántico y paciente.

Los niños son cómicos, inteligentes y simpáticos.

Angelina Jolie es bonita, cómica, inteligente y alta.

Las chicas son altas, trabajadoras y responsables.

As you can observe, there are some adjectives that ends in “e”. These adjectives apply to nouns that are female or male.

For example:

  • Inteligente: adjetivo neutro:
    • Ella es inteligente. Él es inteligente.
    • Ellas son inteligentes. Ellos son inteligentes.

There are some nouns that apply for males or females. In these cases the article is a key element that tells us if the noun is female or male.

For example:

  • El artista / La artista
  • El presidente* / La presidente*
  • El indígena / La indígena

*Se acepta ya por la RAE la forma femenina y masculina.

Apliquemos: Fill in the correct adjective in the column that corresponds to the nationality for each subject. The nationality needs to agree in gender and number with the subject provided. As you complete this exercise, try to recall where the country is located on a globe or world map. Remember you may have to look up nationalities if you do not recall them to complete this exercise.

In Spanish we don’t write the nationalities with a capital letter: mexicanos, nicaragüenses, etc…

Subject Country of Origin Corresponding Adjective
La paella España La paella es española
Diego Rivera México
El petróleo Venezuela
Unos estudiantes Nicaragua
Las minas de cobre (copper) Chile
Las ruinas incaicas Perú
El café Colombia
Los indígenas Bolivia
Las tortugas en las Islas Galápagos Ecuador
El bosque—el Yunque Puerto Rico
Las artesanías Costa Rica

d) Las estructuras gramaticales: recordemos algunas estructuras verbales

You may recall that Spanish has diferent kinds of grammatical structures to help us express a thought. The structures can be classified as follows:

Grammatical structures:

  • The two verb rule.
  • Present progressive.
  • Ir + a + infinitive.
  • Tener + que + infinitive.
  • Deber + infinitive.
  • Gustar and similar verbs.

The two verb rule: These structures are formed by the combination of two verbs. If two verbs are used consecutively without a break in the subject or a conjunction (and, but, or), the first verb is conjugated and the second one stays in the infinitive. When two verbs are walking, the first does the talking. The verb that tells you the most is the first one because it is broken out by the subject. (The first verb means more in a sense.)

Think about the whole point of this book. Yo puedo hablar en español. Yo puedo escribir en español. Yo puedo comprender español. Yo puedo entender otras culturas.

¡Yo puedo tener muchas oportunidades siendo bilingüe!

Also we studied some structures where the verbs require a preposition between the conjugated verb and the infinitive as “ir + a + infinitive” = Vamos a estudiar en casa de Juan. Other verbs require a conjuntion as “tener + que + infinitive” = Tiene que estar en casa.

To the list of verbs above we will add one more verb for now that always needs a preposition. The first one that we will study is “jugar”. In the next section we will study the other one.

Juego al (a el) fútbol todas las mañanas.

Juego a las muñecas (dolls) con mi amiga Beth.

Jugar always is followed by the prepositon a. The contraction of the preposition a and the article “el” = “a + el”= “al”. This helps separate the sounds and is similiar to English when we say a bird vs an owl.

Present progressive: In English, we have the present progressive and past progressive forms. In Spanish, we have the progressive form in all the tenses. The progressive forms in Spanish are only used for emphasis, for instance, to emphasize that an action is taking place at a particular moment, as opposed to another time, or to stress the continuity of the action. In English, the progressive tenses are used far more frequently and they are used for habitual actions, to state general truths, or to indicate that an action is happening at a specific moment. The formula for the Spanish progressive forms is:

Auxiliar verb estar (conjugated in the tense needed) + the gerund (The “ing” form equivalent).

¡Estamos saliendo ahora mismo! à We are leaving right now!

The gerund cannot stand alone as it is not a conjugated verb. To form the gerund, take the root + “ando” in AR verbs. Take the root + iendo in the ER and IR verbs: hablar à hablando. beber à bebiendo, vivir à viviendo.

To express the concept of an action in progress you need the verb “estar” conjugated in the tense that the action is happening (present, past, future) plus the gerund. Again we are applyng the two verb rule: when two verbs are walking, the first does the talking. In the progressive forms the first always is “estar” and the second part is a gerund.

When a verb is not conjugated it is called a verbal in English or verboide in Spanish. Until now we know two different types of verboides: gerund and infinitive. Later we will study the third one.

A graphic of a person and a cat sleeping.The progressive forms work as a structure: Estar (conjugated) + (gerund).

Ella está durmiendo.

She is sleeping.

El gato está durmiendo.

The cat is sleeping.

Ir + a + Infinitive: As you recall, in Spanish, there are two ways to express the future. One is conjugating the verb in the future tense, and the other, more basic form used mostly in spoken Spanish, expresses plans (future actions). The structure “ir + a + infinitive” will help us express the future, using the verb conjugation in present tense.

So far we’ve been reviewing conjugations in the indicative mood, at the present time. The construction “ir + a + infinitive” is extremely useful since you know the conjugation of the verb to go in the indicative mood in the present tense. With this knowledge we can express any action in the future, without knowing the conjugations for the true future tense.

Voy a nadar en la tarde. à I’m going to swim in the afternoon.

Pedro y Dulce van a bailar hoy. à Pedro and Dulce are going to dance today.

¿Qué van a hacer Uds. hoy? à What are you going to do today?

Rosa va al cine. à Rosa is going to the movies.

The preposition “a” comes after ir when you want to say that someone is going to a place. When a is followed by the masculine definite articleà a + el (definite article) the contraction al is mandatory.

Tener + que + infinitive: Sometimes adding a preposition or a conjunction after the conjugated verb changes the meaning significantly. An example is the verb “have” that we already studied: TENER:

Yo tengo 20 años.

Mi hermano tiene una casa.

Nuestros hijos tienen muchos juguetes (toys).

If we use Tener + que + infinitive, the meaning is HAVE or HAS TO. In English and in Spanish we use this structure to express the idea of it being necessary to do something. It is a responsibility.

Tengo que estudiar las estructuras en español. à I have to study the Spanish structures.

Vosotros tenéis que leer la novela. à You (all) have to read the novel.

¡No tengo que hacer tarea hoy!. à I do not have to do homework today!

Deber + Infinitive: Spanish also has another structure to express obligation, but in this case it is a DUTY. We use the verb Deber + infinitive. As with the verb tener, the verb deber changes in meaning with or without the preposition. The verb deber without the preposition means to owe; an example is:

Juan debe estudiar à Juan must study

Margarita debe ir al doctor. à Margarita must go to the doctor.

Juan debe pagar la mátricula. à Juan must pay the tuition.

Deber has a completely different meaning when coupled with the prepositionde”. In this case the structure deber + de + infinitive express possibility or supposition (Must be).

Deben de ser las nueve. à It must be around 9:00 o’clock

Los chicos deben de tener quince años. à The boys must be about 15 years old.

Gustar and similar verbs: Another important structure is GUSTAR which allows us to indicate something or someone is pleasing to a person. It has 4 components and works differently than the traditional Spanish sentence structure. The subject actually is placed after the form of gustar (gusta or gustan depending on the number of things pleasing to someone). Observe the components below:

Person that is pleased
(Indirect object-optional)
Indirect Object Pronoun Gustar*
Conjugated in Third person
Something or Action
that is pleasing
A mí me gusta el libro
A ti te gustan los libros
A él, a ella, a usted le gusta cantar
A nosotros nos gusta cantar y bailar
A vosotros os gustan las clases
A ellos, a ellas, a ustedes les gusta el chocolate

*Remember: for actions or singular things we use gusta; for plural things we use gustan.

To analyze the structure gustar and how it works, remember some basic grammar elements. A sentence is the expression of a thought formed by the subject and the predicate. The predicate is formed by the core (conjugated verb) and the complement (extra information).

  • Sentence: Noah speaks Spanish to Trevor.
    • Subject: person, animal or thing that does the action (conjugated verb): Noah
    • Predicate: Core: action (verb conjugate): speaks
      • Complement: Extra information: Spanish to Trevor

Sometimes it is not so simple to find the subject in a sentence at first glance. Look for the verb to help you determine who? or what? does the action.

Verb (core of the predicate): speaks

Who speaks Spanish? Noah is the answer!

Noah is the subject of our sentence.

Noah is doing the action.

The complement in the predicate is the extra information. The extra information is a word (or words) that is needed to complete the meaning of a sentence. Sometimes this includes the direct and indirect complements, also known as direct or indirect objects.

The indirect object tells to whom or for whom something is done. To identify the indirect object we only need to askto/for whom” or “to/for what” the action is done:

To whom does Noah speaks? To Trevor

Trevor is the indirect object.

The direct object receives the action of a verb. It answers the questions “what or who” about the verb.

What does Noah speak? Spanish

Spanish is the direct object.

Let’s see more examples:

  • John watches TV
    • Subject: who watches? John.
      • Predicate: watches TV.
      • Core: watches.
        • Complement: TV.
          • Direct Object: what does he watch? TV.
          • Indirect Object: there is no indirect object.

As you see, not all sentences need to have a direct and indirect object. You find sentences with none, both, or only with one. Let’s see other examples:

  • John writes his girlfriend
    • Subject: Who writes? John.
      • Predicate: writes his girlfriend.
      • Core: write.
        • Complement: his girlfriend.
          • Direct Object: what does he write? There is no direct
          • Indirect Object: to whom does he write? To his girlfriend.

Now it is your turn: Identify the elements by dissecting the sentences and noting the parts that correspond below.

  • John gives his sister a gift.
    • Subject:
      • Predicate:
      • Core:
        • Complement:
          • Direct Object:
          • Indirect Object:
  • John sees the house.
    • Subject:
      • Predicate:
      • Core:
        • Complement:
          • Direct Object:
          • Indirect Object:
  • John sings a song to his baby.
    • Subject:
      • Predicate:
      • Core:
        • Complement:
          • Direct Object:
          • Indirect Object:

Bearing in mind the components of a sentence, let’s return to the structure gustar. This structure indicates some activity or activities (with the verb in infinitive) or a thing(s) that is/are pleasing to a person. This structure doesn’t have a conventional formation: sujeto + predicado (verbo + complemento). We start with the indirect object pronoun that agrees with whom is receiving joy or pleasure.

Sentence: Me gusta el chocolate

We can start the sentence with the indirect object pronoun, or we have the option to start by emphasizing or clarifying who is the indirect object. We will review this point later. For now we are going to start with the indirect object pronoun, which is a pronoun that receives the action of the verb.

GUSTA means something is pleasing.

What is pleasing? The chocolate!

The subject is the chocolate, the thing which provokes pleasure:

The subject for the verb “gustar” is after the verb. This is what was meant by looking at the verb to determine who your subject is. With the verbs that work like “gustar” such as importar, fascinar, doler, disgustar, molestar, aburrir, etc, the subject is after the conjugated verb.

Comprendamos los pronombres de objeto indirecto en el video 2.1.9. In this video we will understand how the direct object pronouns work in English and in Spanish.

To find an Indirect Object we need to answer “to/for WHOM” or “to/for WHAT” the subject is pleasing.

Indirect Object Pronouns
(you, informal)
(you all, informal)
[Spain only]
(him, her, or you formal)
(them or you all formal)

To whom the chocolate is pleasing?

¿A quién le gusta el chocolate?

A mí à indirect object.

Me à indirect object pronoun

The indirect object pronouns represent the indirect object in the sentence, who receives the consequences of the actions.

(A mí) me gusta el chocolate.

The third person le/les will become “se” if followed by “lo, la, los or las”.

Remember the structure “gustar” is not following the conventional form sujeto + predicado (verbo + complemento) à the structure is backwards: complement indirecto + verbo + sujeto.

  • Oración: (A mí) me gusta el chocolate.
    • Predicado: me gusta
    • Core: gusta
      • Complement: me
        • Objeto Indirecto (¿A quién gusta el chocolate?): a mí
        • Pronombre de Objeto Indirecto: me
          • Sujeto: el chocolate

If we would like to use the conventional form writing sujeto + predicado (verbo + complemento), we need to change the sentence Me gusta el chocolate to El chocolate me place. The meaning doesn’t change, we are expressing the same idea with another verb, and in this case the sentence follows the conventional form.

  • Oración: El chocolate me place (a mí) .
    • Sujeto: el chocolate
      • Predicado: me place
      • Core: place
        • Complement: me
          • Objeto Indirecto (¿A quién place el chocolate?): a mí
          • Pronombre de Objeto Indirecto: me
Estructura del verbo “gustar” Hace la acción
Complemento (opcional) (negacion) obligatorio Verbo sujeto
(a mí) (no) me gusta
  • nombre singular
  • infinitivo (acción)
  • infinitivos (acciones)
(a tí) te
(a él / ella /
(a nosotros / nosotras) nos gustan
  • nombre plural
(a vosotrol / vosotras) os
(a ellos / ellas / ustedes) les
Pronombres de objeto indirecto recibe la sonsecuencia de la acción

Me gusta el chocolate.

El chocolate me place.

Indirect Object Pronouns
(you, informal)
(you all, informal)
[Spain only]
(him, her, or you formal)
(them or you all formal)

In the sentence Me gusta el chocolate, I have the option to emphasize to whom the chocolate is pleasing using the optional part of the structure: a mí me gusta el chocolate.

As you can see in the sentence, we have the indirect object pronoun “me” and also have the indirect object “a mí”. That is the reason why it is optional, we really don’t need to have the indirect object pronoun and the indirect object, but we use the indirect object for emphasis.

A graphic of hot chocolate with marshmallows.In the case of the third persons in the singular or in the plural, we use the indirect object pronoun and the indirect object to clarify… let’s see the following example:

Le gusta el chocolate

To whom is the chocolate pleasing? ¿A quién le gusta el chocolate? le à indirect object pronoun

Who is the indirect object?

I don’t know who the indirect object is. It can be “ella, él or usted” Who is it? I need to clarify. I need to use the optional section of the structure to specify who it is:

A ella le gusta el chocolate, a Juan no le gusta el chocolate o a usted le gusta el chocolate.

In summary, with the structure gustar and similar verbs such as importar, fascinar, interesar, molestar, aburrir, disgustar, etc, always use the indirect object pronoun before the verb. In case we want to emphasize we can use the optional part of the structure, which is the indirect object as with the first and second persons (singular and plural). For the third person (singular and plural) the optional section has the function to clarify who the indirect object is.

The verbs that we studied are regular verbs, but now we will study an irregular one “DOLER”. It changes the “o” to ue” in the root. Again the endings are all the same as the regular ER endings. Let’s see the following examples:

+ Doler: to hurt, to ache:

¿A ustedes les duele correr y caminar?

A ellos les duelen los pies (feet).

As you notice “doler” is irregular. It changes the “o” to ue” in the root, the endings are all the same as the regular ER endings. Like “poder or dormir”.

With all this information you can complete the following chart using the structure gustar and similar verbs with the verb: DOLER. Don’t forget for actions or singular things we use DUELE, for plural things we use DUELEN. The structure DOLER indicates something or someone is hurting a person and has the four components as a similar verb that follow the structure GUSTAR.

TAREA: For homework apply what you learned about the new verbs and write 10 questions in Spanish using the “tú” form that you might use to get to know your future roommate better. You may include things like, “Do you like to sleep late? “Do you like to study in the dorm room?” “What things do you have for the dorm room or apartment?” “What will you do on the weekend?” “Do you have to work?” “What are your duties?” And also what he or she likes to do. Think about how you would answer these questions for yourself so you are prepared to answer these questions in partner activities.

d.1 Los pronombres: de objeto indirecto (POI), objeto directo y los reflexivos

As you remember, the subject and the predicate are two parts of the sentence. The subject is who is doing the action. The predicate has the core: conjugated verb and the complement (extra information). An Indirect Object is part of the complement, it is extra information. The function of the Indirect Object is to indicate to whom or for whom an action is done. You have already learned the Indirect Object Pronouns with “La estructura gustar y verbos similares.” The Indirect Object Pronouns are not exclusive of this structure. We can find indirect objects in several situations, for example:

  • Sentence: Marie reads to her baby.
    • Subject: Marie
      • Predicate: reads to her baby.
      • Core (conjugated verb): reads
        • Complement (extra information): to her baby.
          • Indirect object (Marie reads to or for whom?): to her baby.

We can also use the Indirect Object pronouns and say: Marie reads to him.

Let’s see our example in Spanish:

  • Oración: María lee a su bebé.
    • Sujeto: María
      • Predicado: lee a su bebé.
      • Núcleo (verbo conjugado): lee
        • Complement (Información extra): a su bebé.
          • Objeto Indirecto (¿A quién lee María?): a su bebé.

Podemos usar el pronombre de objeto indirecto (POI): María le lee.

Indirect Object Pronouns
(you, informal)
(you all, informal)
[Spain only]
(him, her, or you formal)
(them or you all formal)

The Indirect Object Pronoun precedes a conjugated verb or follows attached to an infinitive or a gerund. The two options are correct.

María le lee. ß POI before conjugated verb “lee”.

María le tiene que leer. ß POI before conjugated verb “tiene”.

María tiene que leerle ß POI attached to infinitive “leer”.

María le está leyendo ß POI before conjugated verb “está”.

Está leyendo is in present progressive.

María está leyéndole. ß POI attached to the gerund “leyendo”.

Está leyendo is in present progressive; it is the verb expression and cannot be separated.

Are you wondering why there is a written accent mark (an orthographic accent)? à leyéndole.

It is because the natural stress on the word leyendo is on the second “e”, since the word ends in a vowel (Review Unit 1.2: La acentuación en español). When we add the extra syllable “le”, we need to indicate where the natural stress was on the original word with el acento ortográfico à leyéndole.

Veamos otros ejemplos:

For each one of the following examples write the subject of the sentence (who is doing the action), the action (core of the predicate) and the Indirect Object (to whom or for whom the action is done).

Yo le canto una canción.



Objeto Indirecto: _____________

Pronombre de objeto indirecto: _______

Ella os enseña español.



Objeto Indirecto: ________________

Pronombre de objeto indirecto: _________

Juan les lee un cuento.



Objeto Indirecto:_______________

Pronombre de objeto indirecto: ________

Geneseo nos prepara para ser bilingües.



Objeto Indirecto:______________

Pronombre de objeto indirecto: ________

Unfortunately the English verbs that require an indirect object pronoun, are not always the same in Spanish.

The following verbs are commonly used with indirect object pronouns:

Español Inglés Español Inglés
contar ( o-ue) To tell hablar to speak
contestar To answer mandar to send
dar* To give ofrecer to offer
escribir To write pagar to pay
explicar To explain preguntar to ask a question
gritar To shout, scream regalar to give a present

*Dar irregular verb

Practiquemos: Write complete sentences using five of the verbs above with the different POI.






An indirect object pronoun (IOP) can be emphasized or clarified by using a phrase introduced by the preposition “a,” just as we studied with the structure “gustar.” As you remember, the emphasis or clarification is optional.

For emphasis
or clarification
a mí me
a ti te
a él, a ella, a usted le (se)
a nosotros/as nos
a vosotros/as os
a ellos, a ellas, a ustedes les (se)

Some examples:

  • Le escribo un email a Juan.
  • Tengo que escribirle un email a Juan.
  • ¡Nos va a escribir un autógrafo a nosotras!
  • Debe escribirnos un autógrafo a nosotras.
  • Quiero escribirte una carta a ti.
  • Te quiero escribir una carta a ti.

Now use five other verbs from above and write complete sentences but clarify or emphasize the IOP.






Using indirect and direct object pronouns are not the only way we avoid repetition and redundancy in Spanish. Being aware of all the information that verbs tell us, can also eliminate the need for a stated subject.

d.2 En español evitamos la redundancia.

As you know conjugations in Spanish often let us know who the subject is. We can use the conjugated verb without the personal pronoun and still know who the subject is. That is not possible in English:

In Spanish these are clear. In English, there are many possibilities for the subject.

  • Corres à the subject is “tú”  
    • run à I run, you run, they run, we run ….
  • Bebo à the subject is “yo”
    • drink à I drink, you drink, they drink, we drink…
  • Bailáis à the subject is “vosotros”
    • dance à I dance, you dance, they dance…

Notice how in English “run, drink, dance” cannot stand alone. Many of the verbs in Spanish can stand alone and from them you know who is doing the action.

Spanish speakers do not like redundancy. It is a cultural aspect. When you use the personal pronouns all the time, Spanish speakers can interpret it as pretentious: yo corro, yo hablo, yo bebo, yo, yo, yo.

Let’s read the next email with personal pronouns and without them:

Hola Mariana:

¿Cómo estás ? Yo estoy muy contenta. Yo tengo una gran noticia para ti. Yo estoy siguiendo tu consejo. Yo empiezo mis clases de español. Yo quiero ser una doctora bilingüe. tienes razón, es importante que un doctor pueda hablar con todos sus pacientes. Yo sé que en los Estados Unidos el español es el segundo idioma más hablado. eres mi ejemplo. estudias negocios, tus padres son de Chile y estudias una especialización en español. Nosotras vivimos en un mundo global, nosotras debemos de ser bilingües o trilingües. ¿ puedes imaginar estudiar francés o árabe?

¿ qué piensas, a ti te gusta la idea de ser trilingüe?

Un abrazo:


Hola Mariana:

¿Cómo estás? Estoy muy contenta. Tengo una gran noticia para ti. Estoy siguiendo tu consejo. Empiezo mis clases de español. Quiero ser una doctora bilingüe. Tienes razón, es importante que un doctor pueda hablar con todos sus pacientes. Sé que en los Estados Unidos el español es el segundo idioma más hablado. eres mi ejemplo. Estudias negocios, tus padres son de Chile y estudias una especialización en español. Vivimos en un mundo global, debemos de ser bilingües o trilingües. ¿Puedes imaginar estudiar francés o árabe?

¿Qué piensas, a ti te gusta la idea de ser trilingüe?

Un abrazo:


Answer the following questions after analyzing the two emails:

  1. ¿Cuántos pronombres personales se pueden evitar escribir? ____________
  2. En el segundo correo electrónico qué uso tiene “” y “a ti”, ¿Son utilizados para enfatizar o para clarificar?_______ ¿Por qué?_____________________
  3. En la oración: “Ella necesita estudiar otros idomas” ¿El pronombre personal se utiliza para enfatizar o para clarificar?______¿Por qué?_________________

In conversations we frequently use pronouns to avoid redundancy, but before we can apply these terms, let’s study what is the direct object is.

Comprendamos los pronombres de objeto directo en el video 2.1.10. In this video we will understand how the direct object pronouns work in English and in Spanish.

d.3 Los pronombres de objeto directo (POD)

After studying the video, we now know what a direct object pronoun is in English and in Spanish. Recognizing the direct object pronouns, now we realize how often we use them in English. With this concept clear we are able to analyze the function of the direct object in the sentence. The direct object indicates who or what receives the action. The direct object is the person or thing that is directly affected by the action of the verb. It is part of the predicate.

  • Sentence: Josefina writes a letter.
    • Subject: Josefina
      • Predicate: writes a letter.
      • Core (conjugated verb): writes
        • Complement (extra information):
          • Direct object (What does Josefina write?): a letter.

In the following chart, you will see the personal pronouns, the indirect object pronouns (IOP) and the direct object pronouns (DOP) for each one of the grammatical persons. As you can see the IOP and DOP are the same except in the 3rd person.

Person Personal Pronouns Indirect Object Pronouns Direct Object Pronouns
1era singular yo me me
2da singular te te
3ra singular él, ella, usted le (se) lo* / la
1era plural nosotros/as nos nos
2da plural vosotros/as os os
3ra plural ellos, ellas, ustedes les (se) los* / las

The DOP identifies the gender of the direct object in the third person. That is the reason why we find two direct object pronouns for the 3rd person singular: lo (masculine) or la (feminine) and two for the 3rd person plural: los (masculine) or las (feminine).

The difference between the Direct and the Indirect Object Pronouns is in the third person:

Direct Object Pronouns: Identify gender: “ lo or la” and number: “los or las”

Indirect Object Pronouns: identify only number: “le or les”

The direct object pronouns follow the same placement rules as the indirect object pronouns, before the conjugated verb or attached to the verbal.

  • Josefina lo tiene que escribir.
  • Josefina tiene que escribirlo.
  • Josefina lo está escribiendo.
  • Josefina está escribiéndolo.

Remember, why do we use the orthographic stress? Write the reason here: ______________________________________

  • Oración: Josefina escribe una carta.
    • Sujeto: Josefina
      • Predicado: escribe una carta.
      • Núcleo (verbo conjugado): escribe
        • Complement (Información extra):
          • Objeto Directo (¿Que escribe Josefina?): una carta. ß Gender: feminine

Podemos usar el Pronombre de Objeto Directo: Josefina la escribe.

In this case, the gender of “carta” is feminine, but imagine that Josefina writes a book:

What is the gender of the word “libro”? _________________________________________.

Now re-write the sentence using the correct direct object pronoun that corresponds to “libro”: __________________________________________________________________

The following verbs in Spanish frequently take a direct object:

Español Inglés Español Inglés
amar to love odiar to hate
ayudar to help querer to want; to love
detestar to detest respetar to respect
esperar to wait for* ver to see
invitar to invite visitar to visit
necesitar to need golpear to hit

*Esperar also can mean to hope, in that case we don’t need a DOP.

A graphic of two figures with speech bubbles above their heads.In conversations we frequently use direct object pronouns to avoid redundancy, as in the next examples:

Pedro: Hola Juan, ¿Está todo listo para la fiesta de tu hermano? ¿Tienes las invitaciones?

Juan: Sí, acabo de enviarlas.

Pedro: ¿Sabes si Laura va a la fiesta?

Juan: No sé, la voy a invitar esta noche. La voy a ver en casa de mis padres.

Pedro: ¿Tienes el regalo para tu hermano?

Juan: Sí, lo tengo aquí.

Pedro: ¡Aquí está mi regalo! ¿Lo puedo poner con el tuyo?

Juan: ¡Claro!

Practiquemos los pronombres de objeto directo. Examine the following email sent by Miguel and Marimar to their friends Noah and Trevor. In this case Miguel and Marimar avoid redundancy by not using the subject pronouns, but they were not able to use Direct Object Pronouns. In purple you will find the Direct Objects, please apply the Direct Object Pronouns to avoid redundancy. Re-write the message in the lines below replacing the direct objects with the direct object pronouns.

A black-and-white map of Panama.

Queridos Noah y Trevor:

Estamos muy contentos en Panamá. Vimos el Canal de Panamá. Visitamos el Canal de Panamá por la tarde y es increíble. Esta obra impresionante une el océano Atlántico con el océano Pacífico es todo un símbolo de la ingeniería humana. Queremos sacar una foto del Canal de Panamá; Vamos a sacar la foto mañana. Vamos a enviar la foto a ustedes. Cuando ustedes vean la foto estamos seguros que van a venirnos a visitar en Panamá.

Un abrazo:

Marimar y Migue


The following conversations don’t sound correct because there is a lot of redundancy. Please, change the conversations using the direct object pronouns as in the example below where you keep the verb structure together and either place the direct object pronoun before the first verb or after the infinitive.

¡Tienes una canción nueva en tu celular! ¿Puedo escuchar la canción nueva? La puedo escuchar o puedo escucharla_________________

¿Cuándo vas a pintar el baño de azul? Mañana voy a pintar el baño. _____________________________________________

¿Dónde quieres poner el sofá? Quiero poner el sofá en la sala. ___________________________________________

Tienes tu teléfono. ¿Puedo usar tu teléfono? ___________________________________

¡Hace frío! ¿Por qué no cierras la ventana? Quiero la ventana abierta. ____________________________________________

¿Compras un microondas hoy? No, voy a comprar un microondas mañana. _________________________________________________

¿Quieres una nueva televisión? ¡Claro que quiero una nueva televisión! ________________________________________________

¡Amo* a mi novio! Amo tanto a mi novio que no puedo vivir sin él. ___________________________________________

*El verbo amar en español. In Spanish, we use the verb “amar” only with people: ¡Amo a mi novio! In English it is common to use the verb love with objects or concepts: I love Spanish! I love chocolate! In these cases in Spanish, we use the structures that work like gustar: ¡Me fascina el español! ¡Me encanta el chocolate!

You studied how to use the indirect and the direct object pronouns separately. Let’s study how we can use the direct and the indirect object pronoun in the same sentence.

d.4 Las oraciones con objeto directo e indirecto

A sentence always has a subject and a verb. It may contain a complement (extra information: direct object or indirect object or both). In the following example, the sentence has both the direct and the indirect object. Analyze each one of the components of the sentence:

The subject is who is doing the action.

The indirect object tells to whom or to what or for whom or for what the action is done.

The direct object is the person or thing that is directly affected by the action and answers the question what or whom receives the action.

Canto una canción a ti*

* Never use “a yo” or “a tú” we use “a mí” or “a ti”.

  • Núcleo: canto
  • Sujeto: ¿Quién canta? Yo
  • Complemento: Objeto Indirecto: ¿A quién canto una canción? A ti.
    • Pronombre O. I. : te à se refiere a ti.
  • Objeto Directo: ¿Qué canto? Una canción.
    • Pronombre O. D.: la à se refiere a una canción.
Indirect Object Pronouns Direct Object Pronouns
me me
te te
le (se) lo / la
nos nos
os os
les (se) los / las

When we use both an indirect and a direct object pronoun in the same sentence, the indirect object pronoun goes first and then the direct object pronoun:

Canto una canción a ti à Te la canto.

Leo un libro a vosotros à Os lo leo.

Although the real-life application of this concept occurs via answers to questions, practice the concept by rewriting the sentences using the direct and indirect object pronouns. In class, we will practice with questions.

  1. Juan escribe una carta a mí. _____________________________
  2. Rosario compra un regalo a ti. ___________________________
  3. La profesora enseña los pronombres a Rosa.__________________
  4. Ellos ayudan a estudiar el vocabulario a nosotros. _______________
  5. Yo vendo mi coche a vosotros. ____________________________
  6. Eduardo compra el café a ustedes. _________________________

Let’s analyze your answers for sentences 3 and 6:

3. La profesora enseña los pronombres a Rosa.

  • Núcleo: enseña
  • Sujeto: ¿Quién enseña? La profesora
  • Complemento:
    • Objeto Indirecto: ¿A quién enseña? A Rosa
      • Pronombre O. I. : le
    • Objeto Directo:¿Qué enseña? los pronombres
      • Pronombre O.D. : los
  • La profesora le los* enseña (That does not sound right—keep reading to find out why.)

6. Eduardo compra el café a ellas.

  • Núcleo: compra
  • Sujeto: ¿Quién compra? Eduardo
  • Complemento:
    • Objeto Indirecto: ¿A quién compra? A ellas
      • Pronombre O. I. : les
    • Objeto Directo:¿Qué compra? el café
      • Pronombre O.D. : lo
  • Eduardo les lo* compra (That does not sound right either.—Keep reading to find out why.)

*The word “lelo” in Spanish means stunned, slow, or loony! We don’t want to call any one “lelo!”

To avoid this problem when you use both the indirect and direct object pronouns with the 3rd person (singular o plural), the indirect object pronoun le” and “les” becomes “se”.

La profesora se los enseña. Eduardo se lo compra.

¡Nunca use LELO o LELOS o LELA o LELAS!  Always use “se” when you have an indirect object pronoun (le or les) and direct object pronoun (lo, los, la, or las) in the same sentence. ¡No queremos tener lelos!

Don’t forget that the direct and the indirect object pronouns either precede a conjugated verb or are attached to the infinitivo o gerundio.

La profesora se los enseña.

Eduardo se las compra.

La profesora se los va a enseñar.

Eduardo se las va a comprar.

La profesora va a enseñárselos.

Eduardo va a comprárselas.

When we use the indirect and direct object pronouns before the conjugated verb we have two words. When we use them attached to the infinitive, it is only one word. When we attach the indirect and direct object pronouns to the infinitive an orthographic stress is required on the syllable before the combined direct and indirect object pronouns:

Enseñárselo, comprárselo, regalárselo, preparárselo…

Practiquemos los pronombres de objeto indirecto y directo en el video 2.1.11. After this video you will be ready to do your homework.

TAREA: Write a dialogue between you and your best friend in Spanish about school and home by including 10 questions and answers with the goal of using the indirect and direct object pronouns, but also to apply all your Spanish knowledge. Use the different verbs that take a direct or indirect object, practice the structures, use your vocabulary and review your question words. The dialogue needs to have 10 questions with answers.


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Yo puedo: segundos pasos Copyright © by Elizabeth Silvaggio-Adams & Ma. Del Rocío Vallejo-Alegre is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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