Yellow background with watermelon, featuring the direct object pronouns in Spanish

Direct Object Pronouns in Spanish: What They Are and How to Use Them [With Examples]

Direct object pronouns in Spanish are little words that replace nouns so you don’t sound repetitive and unnatural.

The eight object pronouns in Spanish are me, te, lo, la, nos, os, los, and las.

Think of them like this: in English, we use direct object pronouns in sentences like “I bought it today” instead of “I bought a car today.”

In this blog post, you’ll learn how to use direct object pronouns in Spanish!


What Are Direct Object Pronouns in Spanish?

Spanish pronouns are words that substitute nouns.

For example, if you say “I like the apple” and you want to substitute “apple” for a pronoun, you’d replace “apple” with the pronoun “it.” The sentence then becomes “I like it.”

A direct object pronoun is an object pronoun that receives the action of the verb directly.

For example:

I am buying a watermelon (direct object). → I am buying it (direct object pronoun).

An object in Spanish is the person or thing that receives the action of a verb.

When we combine the concepts of pronoun and object, what we get is an object pronoun. On one hand, it substitutes a noun because it’s a pronoun and on the other hand, it receives the action of the verb because it’s an object.

What Are The 8 Direct Object Pronouns in Spanish?

There are eight direct object pronouns in Spanish:

Direct Object Pronouns
me me
te you
lo him, it, you (masculine, formal)
la her, it, you (feminine, formal)
nos us
os you all (informal)*
los them (masculine), you all (masculine/mixed, formal)*
las them (feminine), you all (feminine, formal)*

*Os (vosotros) is only used in Spain. In Latin American Spanish, los/las (ustedes) is used for both formal and informal contexts.

How to Use Direct Object Pronouns

Now that we know how to find the direct object in a sentence, let’s see how we can substitute them for direct object pronouns.

Using direct object pronouns with people

When using direct object pronouns with people in Spanish, simply replace the person with the appropriate pronoun, matching the gender and number, before the verb.

Take a look at these three examples:

Tu hermano odia nosotros Tu hermano nos odia. (Your brother hates us.)

María quiere yo María me quiere.  (María loves me.)

Yo quiero tú/ustedes Te quiero / Los quiero.  (I love you/you all.)

Note with the first sentences, you’d definitely get funny looks if you said them in a conversation because they need the direct object pronoun to sound natural.

Using direct object pronouns with items

Similarly, to use direct object pronouns with items in Spanish, just replace the item with the appropriate pronoun before the verb.

Now let’s look at a few more examples with items instead of people:

He comprado una casa. (I have bought a house.)

Ayer perdí mi teléfono. (I lost my phone yesterday.)

Estoy comiendo manzanas. (I am eating some apples.)

Juan no lee libros. (Juan does not read books.)

For these, we have four options: lo, la, los and las.

To know which one to use, you only need to look at the nouns and see what their gender and number is:

una casa (feminine singular)

mi teléfono (masculine singular)

manzanas (feminine plural)

libros (masculine plural)

Since we always put the pronoun in front of the verb, the correct direct object pronoun substitutions would be:

He comprado una casa Lhe comprado

Ayer perdí mi teléfono Ayer lo perdí

Estoy comiendo manzanas Las estoy comiendo

Juan no lee libros Juan no los lee

Perfect! You can now tell yourself you’re awesome because you’ve had your first practice with direct object pronouns.

Using direct object pronouns in sentences with infinitives or gerunds

Now, there’s one exception to the rules above: When a pronoun is replacing an object that follows a verb in its infinitive or gerund form, it can be placed before the conjugated verb or attached to the end of an infinitive or gerund:

Sentence: Quiero leer el libro. (I want to read the book.)
With direct object pronoun: Lo quiero leer. or Quiero leerlo. (I want to read it.)

Sentence: Estoy escuchando a* mi maestra. (I’m listening to my teacher.)
With direct object pronoun: La estoy escuchando. or Estoy escuchándola. (I’m listening to her.)

*Personal a; it’s added when the direct object of the sentence is a person or animal.

Direct Object Pronouns vs. Indirect Object Pronouns in Spanish

Object pronouns are divided into direct object pronouns and indirect object pronouns.

So what exactly is the difference between these two types of object pronouns?

Well, a direct object pronoun receives the action of the verb directly. Going back to the watermelon sentence, when you decide to buy a watermelon, you’re directly buying it. There’s nothing between the action of buying and the watermelon.

If you say “I am writing an email to Laura,” you aren’t writing Laura, you are writing an email. The email will then be the direct object, but Laura will be indirectly affected because she will be receiving that email, so she’s the indirect object.

If we were to replace all the nouns with pronouns, we would get something like the following:

I am writing an email (direct object) to Laura (indirect object). → I am writing it (direct object pronoun) to her (indirect object pronoun).

How to Combine Indirect and Direct Object Pronouns in Spanish

What do you do when you have a direct and indirect object pronoun in the same sentence?

Which one goes first?

Where do we put them?

Here are a few simple rules you need to follow:

1. The indirect object pronoun always goes before the direct object pronoun

When we have a double-object verb (a verb with a direct and an indirect object), 99% of the time the direct object will be a thing and the indirect object will be a person.

We should always put the person first, as in these examples:

Compré caramelos para ti. (I bought you some candies.) → Te los compré.  (I bought them for you.)

Envío una carta a mis amigos. (I send my friends a letter.) → Les la envío.  (I send it to them.)

However, there’s a little problem with the second example. Here’s how you can fix it:

2. Use se when there’s a third person direct object pronoun and a third person indirect object pronoun

You’d do this like so:

le lose lo
le lase la
le losse los
le lasse las
les lose lo
les lase la
les losse los
les lasse las

This is done to avoid having pronoun combinations with awkward pronunciations.

So, going back to our previous example, “Les la envío” should be instead “ Se la envío .”

Don’t get overwhelmed by this, though. It’s as easy as always substituting le or les and leaving the rest as it is.

Here you have two more examples:

Él compró unas pulseras (direct object) a su hija (indirect object). (He bought some bracelets for his daughter.) Él se las compró. (He bought them for her.)

Envié dinero (direct object) a mis padres (indirect object). (I sent money to my parents.) Se lo envié. (I sent it to them.)

For more on indirect object pronouns see our post here:

Direct object pronouns are tiny words, but they greatly impact Spanish sentences.

Not only do you need them to express yourself with correct grammar, but you’ll also encounter them daily when chatting with native speakers.

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Once you get the hang of ’em, you’ll be using direct object pronouns in Spanish daily, too!

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