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Direct Objects, personal a and direct object pronouns in Spanish

The direct object in Spanish

Direct objects are words or phrases that complement transitive verbs.  Meaning they receive the action of action verbs.  The direct object can be found by asking who? or what? of the verb.

– Here are some examples in English.

  • The cat chased the mouse.
  •  What did the cat chase?  The mouse.  Mouse is the direct object.
  • I hugged my mom.
  •  Who did I hug?  My mom. Mom is the direct object.

 

– The direct object can be found the same way in Spanish by asking ¿qué? or ¿a quién? of the verb.

  • El gato persiguió al ratón.
  •  ¿Qué persiguió el gato? El ratón.  Ratón es el objeto directo.
  • Abracé a mi mamá.
  •  ¿A quién abracé? A mi mamá. Mamá es el objeto directo.

The personal a

– In Spanish, when the direct object is a specific person or group of people, precedes the noun.

  • ¿Por qué no invitas a Elsa? 
  •  Why don’t you invite Elsa?
  • Tengo que llamar a mi amiga.
  •  I have to call my friend.

– It is omitted, however after the verb tener.

  •  Tenemos un hijo.  
  •   We have a (one) son.

– If more than one specific person is the object, the is required before each one.

  • Invitamos a Jorge y a Alicia.
  •  We’re inviting Jorge and Alicia.

– When is followed by the definite article el the two contract to al.

  • Llamaré al doctor.
  •  I’ll call the doctor.

 Direct object pronouns.

– The direct object pronoun replaces the direct object.  The forms can be seen below.

Singular
Plural
me menosus
teyouosyou
lohim, you, itlosyou, them (masc.)
laher, you, itlasyou, them (fem.)

– These pronouns are generally placed before the verb

  • ¿Nos cuentas de tu viaje?
  •  Will you tell us about your trip?
  • Ella no me llamó.
  •  She didn’t call me.

 

– Only the third person pronouns must agree in gender and number with the noun they replace.

  • Quiero el gato gris.
  •   Lo quiero
  • El niño comió los dulces.
  •  El niño los comió.
  • Pedí la ensalada.
  •   La pedí.
  • Los estudiantes borran las pizarras.
  •  Los estudiantes las borran.

 

– If an infinitive verb is used in the construction the direct object pronoun may either be placed before the conjugated or attached to the infinitive.

  • Tienes que buscar a tu hermana.
  •  You have to look for your sister.
  • La tienes que buscar.
  •  You have to look for her.
  • Tienes que buscarla.
  •  You have to look for her.
– Verbs in the command form have special placements for the pronouns.

Affirmative commands attach the pronoun to the end of the verb, adding an accent mark to the stressed verb.

  • Tómalo.
  •  Take it.
  • Llámame.
  •  Call me.

Negative commands require that the pronoun come before the verb.


  • ¡No lo toques!
  •  Don’t touch it!
  • No me molestes.
  •  Don’t bother me.

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