Personal Pronouns in Spanish Grammar

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What are personal pronouns?

Personal pronouns (los pronombres personales) are small words such as yo, me, mí tú, te, tí, lo, …

They refer to people, things and concepts and can be used in place of a noun to avoid repetition.

There are three types of personal pronouns in Spanish: subject pronouns, object pronouns (direct and indirect) and prepositional pronouns.

Y qué necesitas?And you? What do you need? (subject pronoun)
Te llamo luego.I’ll call you later. (direct object pronoun)
Te cuento todo.I’ll tell you something. (indirect object pronoun)
Este regalo es para .This present is for you. (prepositional pronoun)

Read on to learn about each type of personal pronoun in detail.

Subject Pronouns in Spanish

Subject pronouns (los pronombres personales de sujeto) represent the person or thing that performs the verb.

Remember, Spanish usually omits subject pronouns because this information is shown in the verb ending.

(Yo) Tengo una novia.I’ve got a girlfriend.

There are only a few cases where use subject pronouns in Spanish:

  • for emphasis
Ella es muy simpática.She’s really nice.
  • as an answer to the question ¿quién?
¿Quién canta canciones? – Yo.Who’s singing songs? – Me.
  • in comparative sentences with que
Mi novia es más alta que yo.My girlfriend is taller than me.
  • in phrases with mismo, también and tampoco
Él también ha llegado tarde.He was late as well.

Overview of Spanish Subject Pronouns

Subject Pronoun Example
Singular 1st person yo Yo no tengo ni idea.I have no idea.
2nd person
¿Y qué necesitas?And what do you need?
Vos tenés razó are right.
3rd person él, ella,
Ella es la jefa.She’s the boss.
¿Usted necesita algo más?Do you need anything else?
Plural 1st person nosotros, -as Nosotras nos marchamos ya.We are leaving.
2nd person vosotros, -as
¿Vosotros sois de aquí?Are you from here?
3rd person ellos, -as

Ellos no tienen las llaves.They don’t have the keys.
Ustedes esperen fuera, por favor.Please wait outside.


The pronoun vos is used instead of or usted in many Latin American countries. This phenomenon is known as voseo.

tú cantas → vos cantás

Different regions have different conjugations for the vos form. We have an extra page where you can learn more about voseo.

Object Pronouns in Spanish

Object pronouns replace the object of the sentence; this is the thing or person that is acted upon by the verb.

Objects and object pronouns can be direct or indirect. We’ll cover this distinction in more detail further on, so for now, here’s a quick example to give you the general idea:

El profesor explicó la lección. → El profesor la explicó.The teacher explained the lesson. → The teacher explained it.
the lesson is being explained = direct object
El profesor explicó la lección a los alumnos.→ El profesor les explicó la lección.The teacher explained the lesson to the students. → The teacher explained the lesson to them.
the lesson = direct object; the students = indirect object

The good news is that direct and indirect pronouns are identical to each other, except for in the third person.

Person Direct Object Pronoun Indirect Object Pronoun Examples
Singular 1st person me ¿Me llamas luego?Will you call me later? (direct)
Me han dado la beca.They’ve given me the scholarship. (indirect)
2nd person te Te echo de menos.I miss you. (direct)
Te voy a contar algo.I’m going to tell you something. (indirect)
3rd person lo*/la le
Lo has visto?Have you seen it? (direct)
Dile que no.Tell her no. (indirect)
Plural 1st person nos Nos quieren mucho.They love us a lot. (direct)
Nos dieron botellas de agua.They gave us bottles of water. (indirect)
2nd person os Os colocan por grupos.Get into groups. (direct)
Os recomiendo visitar Asturias.I recommend you visit Asturias. (indirect)
3rd person los/las les
Los he invitado a todos.I’ve invited everyone. (direct)
Les he traído un regalo.I’ve brought them a present. (indirect)

*When the direct object is a male human in the singular, you will often hear the pronoun le, although lo is also correct.

**When a sentence includes both a direct and an indirect object pronoun, the latter becomes se to avoid alliteration. See below for more details.

Where to Place Spanish Object Pronouns in a Sentence

Spanish object pronouns come before the verb.

Susana me conoce desde hace años.Susana has known me for years. (direct object pronoun)
Me encanta cantar canciones.I love singing songs. (indirect object pronoun)

Object Pronouns with Verbal Periphrasis

With verbal periphrasis (verb + infinitive/gerund), object pronouns can come before the verb as normal, or we can attach them to the end of the infinitive or gerund.

Quiero cantar otra canción.I want to sing another song.
La quiero cantar. or: Quiero cantarla.I want to sing it.

Object Pronouns with the Imperative

We attach object pronouns to the end of an imperative.

¡Canta las canciones otra vez!Sing the songs again!
→ ¡Cántalas otra vez!→ Sing them again!

But if the imperative is negated, the object pronoun comes before the verb as normal.

No cantes las canciones más.Don’t sing the songs anymore.
→ No las cantes más.→ Don’t sing them anymore.

Order of Spanish Object Pronouns

If there are two object pronouns in the same sentence, the indirect object pronoun comes first.

El profesor nos explicó la lección.The teacher explained the lesson to us.
→ El profesor nos la explicó.The teacher explained it to us.
not: El profesor la nos explicó

If both pronouns are in the third person, the indirect pronoun le/les becomes se to avoid alliteration.

El profesor explicó la lección a los alumnos.The teacher explained the lesson to the students.
→ El profesor se la explicó.The teacher explained it to them.
not: El profesor les la explicó.

The rule indirect before direct also applies when attaching pronouns to the end of a verb in the infinitive, imperative or gerund. Sometimes we need to add an accent to preserve pronunciation.

Quiero comprar un regalo a Maria.
→ Quiero comprárselo.I want to buy a present for Maria. → I want to buy her it.

Not sure about the difference between direct and indirect objects? Keep reading for more info!

Direct Object vs. Indirect Object in Spanish

In sentences with two objects, recognising which is direct and which is indirect is relatively simple.

The general rule is as follows:

  • the direct object is a thing without a preposition
  • the indirect object is usually a person introduced by the preposition a

In fact, the logic is similar to English:

The teacher explained the lesson to the students.
El profesor explicó la lección a los alumnos.
direct object: the lesson/la lección; indirect object: the students/los alumnos

This is what the sentence looks like when we replace the nouns with the corresponding object pronouns:

The teacher explained it to the students.
→ El profesor la explicó a los alumnos. (direct object pronoun)
The teacher explained the lesson to them.
→ El profesor les explicó la lección. (indirect object pronoun)
The teacher explained it to them.
→ El profesor se la explicó. (indirect followed by direct)
remember: change le/les to se when it comes before lo/la/los/las


As always, there are some exceptions to this rule.

In some cases, the indirect object is a thing not a person (it’s still introduced by a though).

Le pongo nata a mi helado.I put cream on my ice cream.
direct object: nata; indirect object: mi helado

Direct Object with a

Sometimes, the direct object is a person introduced by a, meaning that it is indistinguishable from an indirect object.

La guitarra pertenece a Rubén. → Le pertenece la guitarra.The guitar belongs to Rubén. → The guitar belongs to him. (indirect object)
Conozco a Rubén. → Lo conozco.I know Rubén. → I know him. (direct object)

So how can we tell the difference?

Try substituting the the person with a thing. If you still need to use a, then you’ve got an indirect object. If a is no longer necessary before the thing, it’s a direct object.

Conozo a Rubén. → Conozco sus canciones. / Las conozco.I know Rubén. → I know his songs. / I know them.
no preposition necessary = conocer + direct object
La guitarra pertenece a Rubén. → La guitarra pertenece al colegio. / La guitarra le pertenece.The guitar belongs to Rubén. → The guitar belongs to the school. / The guitar belongs to it.
preposition a remains = pertenecer + indirect object

You can also take note of common verbs and whether they take a direct or indirect object after a.

List of Useful Verbs

Common Spanish verbs that take an indirect object:

contar (algo a alguien)tell (something to someone), dar (algo a alguien)give (something to someone), decir (algo a alguien)say (something to someone), pedir (algo a alguien)ask for (something from someone), regalar (algo a alguien)gift (someone with something), servir (algo a alguien)serve (something to someone), traer (algo a alguien)bring (something to someone)

You’ll notice here that the indirect object is often translated as to someone in English.

Common Spanish verbs that take a person as their direct object:

echar de menosto miss (someone), esperarto wait (for someone), invitarto invite (someone), llamarto call (someone), quererto love (someone), etc.

Prepositional Pronouns in Spanish

Prepositional pronouns (los pronombres preposicionales) are a type of object pronoun that come after prepositions (a, con, hacia, para, por, sobra, sin…).

Este regalo es para ti.This present is for you.

We also use prepositional pronouns with a before an indirect object. You may recognise this from phrases like a mí me gusta …

A me conoces muy bien.You know me really well.

Overview of Spanish Prepositional Pronouns

Prepositional Pronoun Example
Singular 1st person No os marchéis sin .Don’t leave without me.
2nd person ti
Todo eso es para ti.All of this is for you.
He venido por vos.I came because of you.
3rd person él, ella
El agua es para él.The water is for him.
Todos esperan por usted.Everyone is waiting because of you.
No cuentes con ello.Don’t trust him.
Marco solo piensa en mismo.Marco only thinks of himself.
Plural 1st person nosotros, -as No contéis con nosotras.Don’t trust us.
2nd person vosotros, -as Pueden ir con vosotros?Can they go with you?
3rd person ellos, -as
El aplauso es para ellas.The applause is for them.
Es un placer contar con ustedes.It’s a pleasure to count on you.
Están hablando entre .They are talking amongst themselves.


  • The preposition con is combined with and ti to create conmigo and contigo.
Me encanta escuchar música contigo.I love listening to music with you.
not: Me encanta escuchar música con ti.
  • We don’t use prepositional pronouns after entre and según. Instead, we use the subject pronouns yo and .
Entre y yo, no tengo ganas de ir a la fiesta.Between you and I, I don’t really feel like going to the party.
not: Entre ti y mí …