Subject Pronouns

Pronombres sujetos

The subject of a sentence is the person or thing which performs the action. Subject pronouns replace this person or thing. You must understand subject pronouns before you begin conjugating Spanish verbs, as the form of verbs changes for each one.

Por ejemplo…

Yo estoy listo.   I‘m ready.
Nosotros debemos salir.   We need to leave.

Characteristics of subject pronouns

  1. Serve as the subject of verbs
  2. May be singular or plural, masculine or feminine to agree with the noun (subject) they replace

Spanish subject pronouns

Spanish is what linguists call a "pro-drop" language, which simply means that the pronoun can be dropped. It’s not necessary for comprehension, the way it is in English, because the subject of the verb is evident from the conjugated verb. "I go" can be translated by yo voy or simply voy (from the verb ir – to go).

The different subject pronouns are determined by number and person.

  • Number is divided into “singular” (one) and “plural” (more than one).
  • Person includes “first person” (the speaker), “second person” (the listener), and “third person” (neither the speaker nor the listener).

Thus with two numbers and three persons, there are a total of six grammatical persons, each of which has at least one subject pronoun:

  Pronombres de sujeto
  singular   plural
1st person yo* I   nosotros
nosotras
we
2nd person   you   vosotros
vosotras
you
3rd person él
ella
he, it
she, it
  ellos
ellas
they
Ud. you   Uds. you

 * Note that yo is only capitalized at the beginning of a sentence.

Por ejemplo…

Yo voy a la fiesta.   I’m going to the party.
Sí, yo voy a la fiesta.   Yes, I’m going to the party.

In addition to "he" and "she," él and ella mean “it” when they replace a noun of that gender, so el libro (the book) becomes él and la manzana (the apple) becomes ella.

Spanish also has a neuter subject pronoun (ello) for referring to something non-specific.

  Nótese bien: There are several Spanish words for "you": learn more.

Nosotras, vosotras, and ellas mean we, you, and they respectively when all of the nouns (people and/or things) referred to are feminine. If there are any masculine nouns, the subject pronoun defaults to the masculine nosotros, vosotros, or ellos.

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