Affirmative Sentences in Spanish Grammar

Introduction

Affirmative sentences (las oraciones afirmativas) declare an action or fact. They usually consist of at least a subject and a verb. In Spanish grammar, the subject generally comes at the beginning of the sentence, however, this order can be changed.

Learn about the word order in Spanish affirmative sentences with Lingolia’s grammar overview, then test yourself in the exercises.

Example

El perro coge la pelota.
La pelota la coge el perro.

Both sentences above are correct and mean “The dog catches the ball”. Note how, in the second sentence, the object pronoun la is repeated to preserve the meaning.

Make sure you don’t forget the object pronoun, though! Without it, the subject and object would be reversed and the sentence would say: “The ball catches the dog”.

La pelota coge el perro.
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Word Order

Normal word order in a declarative sentence is subject-predicate-object. If there is both a direct object and an indirect object, the direct object usually comes before the indirect object (in English, the reverse is true).

subject predicate direct object indirect object
Sandra ha mostrado el camino a sus amigos.Sandra showed her friends the way.

However, when the direct object has a supplement (e.g. a relative clause) attached to it, the indirect object usually comes first.

subject predicate indirect object direct object supplement
Ella ha mostrado a sus amigos el camino que lleva a su casa.She showed her friends the way that led to her house.

When objects are replaced by pronouns, then the object pronouns come before the verb: first the indirect object (me, te, se, os) and then the direct object (lo, la, los, las).

subject indirect object pronoun direct object pronoun predicate direct object indirect object
Sandra le ha mostrado el camino.Sandra showed them the way.
Sandra lo ha mostrado a sus amigos.Sandra showed it to her friends.
Sandra se* lo ha mostrado.Sandra showed it to them.

*The indirect object pronoun in the 3rd person is usually le/les. However, when le/les is directly followed by the pronoun lo, la, los or las, then we use se as the indirect object pronoun instead of le/les.

Example:
Ella les ha mostrado el camino.She showed them the way.
Ella se lo ha mostrado.She showed them it.

Putting the Object in Front

Sometimes the direct object or indirect object can be placed at the beginning of the sentence. In order to indicate that it is an object and not a subject, the object is repeated using the corresponding unstressed object pronoun.

Example:
Compro la fruta en el mercado.
→ La fruta la compro en el mercado.I buy fruit at the market. (direct object)
Dimos unos juguetes a los niños.
→ A los niños les dimos unos juguetes.We gave some toys to the children. (indirect object)

Putting the Verb in Front

Usually the subject comes before the verb. Under certain conditions, though, the verb can come before the subject:

  • when the sentence begins with an adverbial modifier
    Example:
    En ese momento entraron los invitados.At that moment, the guests came in.
  • in sentences using the passive “se”
    Example:
    Se construyen demasiadas casas en la costa.Too many houses were built along the coast.
  • in direct speech when the speaker is mentioned afterwards
    Example:
    «No sé lo que significa», dijo el niño. “I don’t know what it means”, said the child.

Emphasising Various Sentence Components

In Spanish, it is possible to emphasize part of a sentence by using the verb ser and transforming the rest of the sentence into a relative clause. The component we wish to emphasize accompanies the verb ser.

  • quien/quienes
    Example:
    Ana se comió el último trozo del pastel.Ana ate the last piece of cake.
    Fue Ana quien se comió el último trozo del pastel.It was Ana who ate the last piece of cake.
  • el/la/los/las/lo que
    Example:
    Me gusta hacer feliz a la gente.I like making people happy.
    → Hacer feliz a la gente es lo que me gusta.Making people happy is what I like.
  • with a preposition
    Example:
    Mañana quedaré con Ramón. Tomorrow I’m seeing Ramón.
    → Con Ramón es con quien/con el que he quedado mañana.It’s Ramón that I’m seeing tomorrow.

Adverbial Modifier

The adverbial modifier (el complemento circunstancial) can either come at the beginning of the sentence, in the middle, or at the end.

Example:
Mañana Carlos irá a montar en bicicleta.
Carlos irá mañana a montar en bicicleta.
Carlos irá a montar en bicicleta mañana.Charles will go cycling tomorrow.
  • When there are multiple adverbial modifiers in a row, locative modifiers come before temporal ones.
    Example:
    Alejandro estuvo viviendo en Londres en 1998.Alejandro was living in London in 1998.
  • Adverbial modifiers are arranged in a sentence according to their importance with the most important one coming last.
    Example:
    No ha podido ir al parque de atracciones a causa de su pierna rota.She couldn’t go to the theme park because of her broken leg.
    A causa de su pierna rota, no ha podido ir al parque de atracciones.Because of her broken leg, she couldn’t go to the theme park.