How to simplify pronouns in Spanish

language learning Spanish

a tribute o my frinds since grade school-Feb-02-2021-07-27-11-40-PMDirect and indirect object pronouns often trip up students of Spanish. But identifying objects and using pronouns can be simple, if you know how to break down a sentence. Let’s look at this through an example!

For direct object pronouns:

I play the guitar.
Toco la guitarra.

First, identify the verb and ask yourself who does that action. Who plays the guitar? I do because “I” and “play” go together. Since “I” is the subject that goes along with the verb, “I” is unlikely to also be the object of the same sentence (unless I’m playing the guitar for myself).

What about the rest of the sentence? The only thing left is “the guitar.” To identify a direct object, ask yourself who or what the verb is referring to. What do I play? I play the guitar. So, the guitar is the direct object. In Spanish, then, “yo” is the subject and “tocar” is the verb (“toco”). The direct object is “la guitarra.”

Let’s say we already know we’re talking about a guitar and don’t want to repeat that word. We want to say, “I play it,” where “it” is referring to the guitar. This is where pronouns come in. The most common direct object pronouns in Spanish are:

  • lo: for something masculine and singular, like “el libro”
  • la: for something feminine and singular, like “la guitarras
  • los: for something masculine and plural, like “los bizcochos”
  • las: for something feminine and plural, like “las casas”

The less-commonly used direct object pronouns are:

  • me (me)
  • te (you)
  • nos (us)
  • os (you all)

Since “la guitarra” is feminine and singular, we’ll use the pronoun “la.” We’re done with the word “guitarra” now, because it’s being replaced by its pronoun. That means that the elements we have in this sentence are “toco” (subject and verb) and “la” (direct object pronoun). The only thing left to do is put these two components in the correct order: pronoun, then conjugated verb:

La toco.

For indirect object pronouns:

Sometimes, in addition to a direct object, there is also an indirect object. For example:

I play the guitar for you.

Toco la guitarra para ti.

The indirect object answers the question “to/for whom?” or “to/for what?” Here are the indirect objects and their corresponding pronouns:

  • me: a/para mí (to/for me)
  • te: a/para ti (to/for you [informal])
  • nos: a/para nosotros (to/for us)
  • os: a/para vosotros (to/for you all)
  • le: a/para él, ella, usted (to/for him, her, you [formal])
  • les: a/para ellos, ellas, ustedes (to/for them, you all)

If you are using a first or second person pronoun (me, te, nos, or os), you don’t need the indirect object, because those pronouns can only refer to certain people. For example, in the sentence “Te traigo la bandeja” (“I bring you the tray”), “te” could only refer to “you.” However, if you use a third person pronoun (“le” or “les”), you may want to include the indirect object as well to clarify what you’re saying. For instance, in the sentence “Le traigo la bandeja,” it’s unclear to whom I am bringing the tray. It could be to my mother, to my friend Samuel, or to any number of third person singular indirect objects. I can clarify by stating, “Le traigo la bandeja a Samuel.” 

So, if we go back to our original sentence, we can replace “la guitarra” with “la” and “para ti” with “te.” To rephrase this sentence, we put the pronouns first—indirect and then direct—followed by the conjugated verb.

Te la toco.

As you can see, once you’ve identified the subject, verb, and direct/indirect nouns, you can simply replace those objects with their corresponding pronouns and put the elements in the correct order. Pronouns don’t have to be difficult!


There’s a good reason Spanish is the most-taught second language in America: it’s by far the most useful. Whether it’s for school, business, travel, or simply for everyday life, Spanish rewards anyone willing to put in the effort to learn it.  And with the right teacher, learning it can be a breeze!  That’s where Cambridge Coaching comes in. We offer customized private Spanish tutoring at all levels, from the newest beginners to the most advanced speakers. Our Spanish tutors are exceptional teachers - they are PhD candidates and teaching fellows at NYU, Columbia University, and Harvard University, published authors, and language professionals. Tell us about your goals, and we’ll help you get there in no time.

Contact us!

What’s That Sound?: Diphthong (Diptongo), Hiatus (Hiato), and Understanding Spanish Syllables

The Language Tutor: Everyday Immersion

The Language Tutor: Doubt Not the Dictionary


Kristina recently completed her PhD in Latin American, Iberian, and Latino Cultures at CUNY. She holds an MPhil in Comparative Literature (Trinity College Dublin) and a BA in English and Latin American and Latino Studies (Fordham).


academics study skills MCAT medical school admissions SAT expository writing college admissions English MD/PhD admissions writing LSAT strategy GMAT GRE physics chemistry math biology graduate admissions ACT academic advice interview prep law school admissions test anxiety language learning MBA admissions premed career advice personal statements homework help AP exams creative writing MD study schedules Common Application test prep summer activities computer science history philosophy organic chemistry secondary applications economics mathematics supplements PSAT admissions coaching grammar research 1L law statistics & probability legal studies psychology ESL CARS SSAT covid-19 dental admissions logic games reading comprehension engineering USMLE Spanish calculus mentorship parents Latin case coaching verbal reasoning DAT PhD admissions excel political science AMCAS English literature French Linguistics MBA coursework Tutoring Approaches academic integrity chinese medical school Anki DO STEM Social Advocacy admissions advice algebra astrophysics biochemistry business classics diversity statement genetics geometry kinematics letters of recommendation mechanical engineering mental health presentations quantitative reasoning skills study abroad technical interviews time management work and activities 2L IB exams ISEE MD/PhD programs adjusting to college algorithms art history artificial intelligence athletics business skills careers cold emails data science first generation student functions gap year information sessions international students internships linear algebra logic networking poetry resume revising science social sciences software engineering tech industry trigonometry 3L AAMC Academic Interest DMD EMT FlexMed Fourier Series Greek Health Professional Shortage Area Italian Lagrange multipliers London MD vs PhD MMI Montessori National Health Service Corps Pythagorean Theorem Python Sentence Correction Shakespeare Step 2 TMDSAS Taylor Series Truss Analysis Zoom acids and bases amino acids analysis essay architecture argumentative writing art art and design schools art portfolios bibliographies biomedicine brain teaser campus visits cantonese capacitors capital markets cell biology central limit theorem centrifugal force chemical engineering chess chromatography class participation climate change clinical experience community service constitutional law consulting cover letters curriculum dementia demonstrated interest dental school dimensional analysis distance learning econometrics electric engineering electricity and magnetism enrichment escape velocity european history evolution executive function finance freewriting fun facts genomics graphing harmonics health policy history of medicine history of science hybrid vehicles hydrophobic effect ideal gas law induction infinite institutional actions integrated reasoning intermolecular forces intern investing investment banking lab reports linear maps mandarin chinese matrices mba medical physics meiosis microeconomics mitosis music music theory neurology neuroscience object-oriented programming office hours operating systems organization outlining pedagogy