We are moving forward with our explanation of Direct Object Pronouns, so let’s take as our starting point the sentence we looked at last month:
El niño lee el libro.
The boy reads the book
El niño lo lee.
The boy reads it.
This sentence demonstrates what we have learnt so far; that a Direct Object Pronoun replaces the Direct Object (the thing that directly receives the action of a verb). In other words, in English ‘it’ replaces ‘the book’. We also saw that in Spanish, the equivalent of it goes in front of a verb. There are in fact three instances when the Direct Object Pronoun can be linked to the end of a verb itself, but we will look at those later.
In English we have several Direct Object Pronouns:
Me – us – you – him – her – it – them
We need to be clear in our minds that we are talking about Object Pronouns specifically here, because two of them are also used in English as Subject Pronouns (you and it) and one of them doubles up as a possessive adjective (her). If you didn’t understand that last sentence don’t worry too much; just remember that some of these words can have other uses. We tend to complain when Spanish words have duplicate uses and meanings, but in fact English is just as bad. It’s just that we don’t have to think about it so we don’t usually realise that we are doing it.
We can illustrate the use of these words in English with the verb ‘love’. For example:
‘I love you’ (‘I’ is the Subject Pronoun and ‘you’ is the Object Pronoun).
‘You love me’ (‘You’ is the Subject Pronoun and ‘me’ is the Object Pronoun).
From this example you can see that the word ‘you’ has two uses; as subject and object, whereas ‘I’ has to change to ‘me’ when used as an object.
You can go through all the different permutations yourselves to see how all of these words work, so I won’t clog up the rest of this article with examples. You may find it has the added benefit of making you feel all nice and loved!
I hear you ask, “How do we do all this in Spanish?” Well, here are the basic direct object pronouns:
Me – me/nos – us
Te – you/os – you
Lo – it/him/los – them (m)
La – it/her/las – them (f)
I would be lying to you if I didn’t admit that there are one or two complications here regarding the difference between people and things in the third person, but that deserves a longer explanation and will have to wait for now. In the meantime, here are some simple examples for you to cogitate on over the next month. Hopefully you will still be with me then!
El niño me ve.
The boy sees me.
El niño te ve.
The boy sees you.
El niño lo ve.
The boy sees it/him.
El niño la ve.
The boy sees it/her.
El niño nos ve.
The boy sees us.
El niño os ve.
The boy sees you (familiar plural).
El niño los ve.
The boy sees them (m).
El niño las ve.
The boys sees them (f).
Jane Cronin’s “Step by Step Spanish” articles are available as e-books at www.janecronin.eu where you can also obtain Jane’s “Step by Step Internet Spanish” course.