Indirect Objects

Objetos indirectos
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Objetos indirectos

An indirect object is a person that someone or something does something to indirectly. In the simplest sentences, the indirect object directly follows a verb + preposition, so it’s very easy to see the effect that the verb has on that person.

Por ejemplo…

Da unas flores a su amiga.   He’s giving flowers to his friend.
Hablo a José y Ana.   I’m talking to José and Ana.

Characteristics of indirect objects

  1. Are connected to the verb with the preposition a
  2. Cannot be removed without altering the meaning of the sentence
  3. Can be found by asking "to whom?"

Por ejemplo…

To whom is he giving flowers? His friend
To whom am I talking? José y Ana

Indirect object pronouns

In order to avoid repeating nouns in a series of sentences or when answering questions, both Spanish and English replace indirect objects with indirect object pronouns.

Por ejemplo…

To whom is he giving flowers? His friend her.
To whom am I talking? José y Ana them.

Le da unas flores.   He’s giving her flowers.
Les hablo.   I’m talking to them.

 En comparación…

Leo a mis hijos todas las noches.   I read to my kids every evening.
Les leo todas las noches.   I read to them every evening.

As you can see, the second version sounds much more natural, in both languages.

Spanish indirect object pronouns

1st person me  me   nos us
2nd person te you os you
3rd person le him, her, you, it les them, you

Indirect object pronoun placement

1) Like direct object pronouns, Spanish indirect object pronouns are usually placed in front of the verb.

Por ejemplo…

Le hablo.   I’m talking to him.
Les escribe.   He writes to them.
Te doy el pan.   I’m giving the bread to you.
Ella me contestó.   She answered me.

2) With infinitives, present participles, and affirmative commands, pronouns can either precede as above or get attached to the end – learn more.

Por ejemplo…

Le voy a decir.   I’m going to tell him.
Voy a decirle.  
Les quiero traer el regalo.   I want to bring the gift to them.
Quiero traerles el regalo.  

 Notes

Trouble deciding between an indirect object and a direct object? The general rule is that if the person is preceded by a preposition (with the exception of the personal a) that person is an indirect object. If the person is not preceded by a preposition, it’s a direct object.

When third person indirect and direct pronouns are used together, the indirect pronoun changes to selearn more.

Spanish quiz Indirect Object Pronoun Quiz

Think you’ve got it? Test yourself:

 Related lessons

Spanish lesson plans Spanish lesson plans

Learn French En français

Learn Italian In italiano

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Spanish indirect objects

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