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A Helpful Guide to Clear All Your Doubts About Spanish Pronouns

A Helpful Guide to Spanish Pronouns
There are a variety of pronouns in Spanish that are used differently in different contexts. Penlighten here provides you with a helpful guide to Spanish pronouns.
Penlighten Staff
Last Updated: Mar 9, 2018
Did You Know?
In Spanish, in many situations, the pronouns can be omitted. This is because the language contains verbs that are extensively conjugated, and their endings help clearly identify who performed the action and when the action was performed.

Unlike English, Spanish grammar is slightly more complicated. Do not, by any means, misunderstand the word 'complicated'. It simply means that the parts of speech in this language have extensive classifications and the way they are used in different scenarios could indicate very different meanings overall. Pronouns are an intrinsic part of Spanish grammar (obviously), and are categorized into various types. You would be aware of the universal snippet of knowledge that pronouns are used in place of nouns. Their functioning too, is almost the same as in English, however, in Spanish, they are hugely influenced by the gender. You will understand this better with the help of the following paragraphs, which enlist Spanish pronouns with examples.
List of Spanish Pronouns
Subject Pronouns
Subject pronouns in Spanish are nothing but personal pronouns. They are used as a subject of the verb. Mostly (as already stated above), their presence may not be required, since the conjugated verb indicates the person directly. 

Singular Plural
Yo (I) Nosotros/as (We)
Tú/Usted [familiar/formal] (You) Vosotros/as/Ustedes (You)
Él/ella (He/she) Ellos/as (They)
Sí (Himself/herself/yourself/themselves/yourselves) Sí (Himself/herself/yourself/themselves/yourselves)

Examples

Yo quiero el chocolate. (I want chocolate.)

Ella es muy bonita. (She is very pretty.)

✤ Ellos son de Chile. (They are from Chile.)

The 'usted' here is used as a formal 'you', the usage is different in Spain and Latin America.
Indirect Object Pronouns
As the word indicates, they are used as indirect objects of the verbs. You can add a prepositional phrase in order to emphasize on the meaning of the sentence. It is not mandatory, of course.
Singular Plural
me (to me) nos (to us)
te (to you) os (to you)
le (to him/her/it/you) les (to you/them)
se (to himself/herself/yourself/themselves/yourselves) se (to himself/herself/yourself/themselves/yourselves)

Examples

✤ ¿Le hablas? (Are you talking to her?)

✤ ¿Le hablas a ella? (Are you talking to her?)

Now, in the examples above, note that the first one does not have a prepositional phrase while the second one does (a ella). It indicates that the person receiving the action is a female. In the first example, this is not clear.
Direct Object Pronouns
They are used as direct objects of the verb, that is to say, they are used when a pronoun is required for the direct object of the verb. A prepositional phrase can be added here as well.

Singular Plural
me (me) nos (us)
te (you) os (you)
lo (him/it/you) los (you/them)
la (her/it/you) las (you/them)
se (himself/herself/yourself/themselves/yourselves) se (himself/herself/yourself/themselves/yourselves)

Examples

✤ La conozco bien. (I know her well.)  

 La conozco a ella bien. (I know her well.)

In case the verb is implied, a prepositional phrase is mandatory.
Double Object Pronouns
They are used in a sentence where the direct and indirect object pronouns are needed for the same verb. That is why they are called 'double object'. Another important point to remember here is that in such cases, the indirect object pronoun always comes first. Also, if both, the direct and indirect object pronouns occur for the third person, i.e., if the first letter is 'l' (le, les, lo, los, la, las), the indirect object pronoun is replaced with 'se'.

Examples

Nos lo vendieron. (They sold it to us.)

✤ Se lo di a ellos. (I gave it to them.)
Reflexive Pronouns
They are used with reflexive verbs and when the subject and object are the same person. To be more precise, when they work with reflexive verbs, they indicate that the person is performing the action on himself.

Singular Plural
me (to/for/from myself) nos (to/for/from ourselves)
te (to/for/from yourself) os (to/for/from yourselves)
se (to/for/from himself/herself/itself/yourself) se (to/for/from yourselves/themselves)

Examples

✤ Me lavo. (I wash myself.)
The pronoun should match the subject in number and person.

✤ Se hablaba. (She was talking to herself.)

The pronoun 'se' is used to represent the reflexive verb. For example, lavarse, despertarse, etc.
Demonstrative Pronouns
In simple words, they 'demonstrate' or 'point out' something. In English, we use the words 'this', 'that', 'here', 'there' for this purpose. In Spanish, there is a third distinction too. Also, as opposed to demonstrative adjectives, demonstrative pronouns, in their masculine and feminine forms, use accent marks. They are not mandatory, however.

Singular Plural
Éste [masc]/Ésta [fem]/ Esto [neu] (this) Éstos/Éstas (these)
Ése [masc]/Ésa [fem]/Eso [neu] (that) Ésos/Ésas (those)
Aquél/Aquélla/Aquello [mas/fem/neu] (that over there) Aquellos/Aquellas (those ones over there)

Examples

Éste es mi plato favorito. (This is my favorite dish.)

Ésos son mi ropa. (Those are my clothes.)

Aquéllas allá son muy bonitas. (Those ones over there are very pretty.)
Possessive Pronouns
They indicate possession. They refer to people or objects possessed by other people or objects. They are normally preceded by articles.

Singular Plural
El mío [masc]/La mía [fem] (mine) Los míos/Las mías
El tuyo [masc]/La tuya [fem] (yours) Los tuyos/Las tuyas
El suyo [masc]/La suya [fem] (his/hers) Los suyos/Las suyas
El nuestro [masc]/La nuestra [fem] (ours) Los nuestros/Las nuestras
El vuestro [masc]/La vuestra [fem] (yours) Los vuestros/Las vuestras
El suyo [masc]/La suya [fem] (theirs) Los suyos/Las suyas

Examples


✤ Tu reloj es rojo y el mío es verde. (Your watch is red and mine is green.)

✤ Éste es tuyo. (This is yours.)

✤ Ésta casa es la nuestra. (This house is ours.)

✤ Éste es mi edificio, aquél es los suyos. (This is my building, that one is theirs.)
Interrogative Pronouns
They are used in questions, of course.

Singular Plural
¿Quién? (Who) ¿Quiénes?
¿A quién? (Whom) ¿A quiénes?
¿Qué? (What) ¿Qué?
¿Cuál? (Which one) ¿Cuáles?
Dónde (Where) Dónde
Cuándo (When) Cuándo
Cómo (How) Cómo
Cuánto/a (How much, how many) Cuántos/as

Examples

✤ ¿Quién es usted? (Who are you?)

✤ ¿A quién podemos hablar? (Whom can we speak to?)

✤ ¿Cuál es tu problema? (What is your problem?)

✤ ¿Cuándo vienes? (When are you coming?)

✤ ¿Dónde estabas? (Where were you?)
Prepositional Object Pronouns
They are used as objects of the preposition. They are similar to subject pronouns, except for 'mí', 'tí', and 'sí'. Do not miss the accent marks, otherwise the words signify totally opposite meanings.

Singular Plural
Mí (me) Nosotros/as (us)
Ti/Usted [familiar/formal] (you) Vosotros/as/Ustedes (you)
Él/ella (him/her) Ellos/as (them)

Examples

✤ Me gustaría salir contigo. (I would like to go out with you.)

✤ A mí me gusta el dulce. (I like the sweet.)

✤ ¿Es para ella? (Is it hers?)
Reciprocal Pronouns
They are used to express reciprocal actions. Do not confuse them with reflexive pronouns. In case of the latter, the person who performs the action and the person who receives it are one and the same. Reciprocal pronouns use the same plural forms, and are used to express reciprocal actions. For instance, check the sentences 'We feed ourselves' and 'We feed each other'. Prepositional phrases can be used in sentences in order to distinguish between the two.

Examples

✤ Nos miramos. (We look at ourselves.) [Normal]

✤ Nos miramos a nosotros mismos. (We look at ourselves.) [Prepositional phrase for reflexive usage]

✤ Ella y yo nos miramos el uno al otro. (We look at each other.) [Prepositional phrase for reciprocal usage]
Relative Pronouns
They form the beginning of a clause that answers the noun or gives more information about the same.

Examples

✤ Ella me dijo que ella era de Nueva York. (She told me that she is from New York.)

✤ La chica cuyo cabello es rubio es mi amigo. (The girl whose hair is blonde is my friend.)
Indefinite Pronouns
They refer to things or people that are random, rather, not specific.

Algo (anything/something) Alguien (anyone/someone)
Nada (nothing) Nadie (No one/nobody)

Examples

✤ Nada es perfecto en la vida. (Nothing is perfect in life.)

✤ ¿Es alguien en casa? (Is anyone home?)
Other Points to Remember
  • Negative words are used along with negative pronouns in some sentences in order to form a double negative.
  • This kind of usage would be incorrect in English. In Spanish however, the situation demands so.
  • As you must have already noted above, demonstrative pronouns have three classifications. In English, we use 'this' and 'that'. In Spanish, we have 'this', 'that', and 'over there'.
  • 'Se' is one pronoun that is brilliantly versatile yet confusing. It substitutes as the passive voice, functions in the reflexive usage, and varies between being masculine or feminine and singular or plural.
  • Many pronouns function better when attached to a verb rather than stand-alone.
  • The function of 'it' is relatively simpler in English than in Spanish. In the latter, it can be translated using a number of words.
  • In certain special situations, like when parts of the body are used as direct objects, a definite article is used and an indirect object pronoun indicates the person in question.
Spanish grammar, with all its behemoth of complexity, is highly pleasing as well as challenging to learn. The above article covers only the pronouns, and even then, it is only a gist of the subject. A lot of other examples have various other usages where this part of speech is concerned. Once you start to learn the language, there is really no stopping you, for there is so much to learn. In fact, you can learn about Spanish adjectives too. All the best!
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