Indirect object nouns and indirect object pronouns
Indirect object nouns
In a sentence, an "indirect object noun" is the "receiver" of an action. It answers the question "to whom or for whom" the action is done. In the example shown in the photo below, the indirect object answers this question: ¿A quién le compra David unos boletos? (To whom does David buy tickets?), which is "a mí". The indirect object pronoun is marked in blue and bold in the photo.
Indirect object pronouns
- "Indirect object pronouns" are words that replace "indirect object nouns". Spanish speakers often use the indirect object pronoun and the indirect object noun in the same sentence. The indirect object noun is used to emphasize or clarify "to whom" the pronoun refers. The indirect object pronoun is often used without the indirect object noun when the person for whom the action is being done is known. The chart below shows the indirect object pronouns marked in blue. The indirect object pronouns that refer to the indirect object nouns are:
|me = (to, for) me||nos = (to, for) us|
|te = (to, for) you (familiar)||os = (to, for) you all (familiar)|
|le = (to, for) you (formal); him; her||les = you all (formal); them|
- Since "le" and "les" have multiple meanings, "a" + [noun] or "a" + [pronoun] is often used to clarify to whom the indirect object pronouns refer. The clarifiers are marked in blue in the charts below and the IOP equivalent to the clarifiers are marked in blue and bold. Note that the direct object noun is underlined.
|Clarifier (Singular)||IOP||Clarifier (Plural)||IOP|
|a mí||me||a nosotros; a nosotras||nos|
|a ti||te||a vosotros; a vosotras||os|
|a usted||le||a ustedes||les|
|a él||le||a ellos||les|
|a ella||le||a ellas||les|
Ella les vende ropa.
She sells clothing (to them or to you all?).
Ella les vende ropa a ellos.
She sells clothing to them.
Yo le presto una camisa.
I loan a shirt (to you or to him or to her?).
Yo le vendo una camisa a Luis.
I loan a shirt to Luis.
Placement of the indirect object pronouns
- Indirect object pronouns usually precede the conjugated verb. In negative sentences, place the pronoun between "no" and the conjugated verb. Note: The IOP is marked in blue and bold, the indirect object noun is marked in blue, and the direct object noun is underlined.
Te compro un abrigo. = I buy you a coat.
No te compro nada. = I don't buy you anything.
- When the infinitive or present participle is used, there are two options for indirect object pronoun placement: before the conjugated verb, or attached to the infinitive or present participle. When a pronoun is attached to a present participle, an accent mark is added. Note: The IOP is marked in blue and bold, the indirect object noun is marked in blue, and the direct object noun is underlined.
¿Vas a comprarle un regalo a Carla? OR ¿Le vas a comprar un regalo a Carla? = Are you going to buy a gift for Carla?
Estoy mostrándoles las fotos a ellos. OR ¿Les estoy mostrando las fotos a ellos. = I am showing the photos to them.