Quite a few months ago I wrote a couple of articles about Direct Object Pronouns, using as examples the words ‘lo’, ‘la’, ‘los’ and ‘las’ meaning ‘it’ and ‘them’.  We saw how they can link to the ends of verb infinitives to make up a longer word, like:

Voy a cocinarlo (I’m going to cook it)

Quiero comprarlas (I want to buy them). 

At that stage I kept things simple in two ways.  Firstly, we only looked at ‘it’ and ‘them’ and avoided ‘me’, ‘you’, ‘him’, ‘her’ and ‘us’ and secondly, we stuck to examples with infinitives of verbs, where we were able to simply tack ‘lo’, ‘la’, ‘los’ and ‘las’ onto the ends of the words.

Now that we’ve learnt a bit more about verbs and particularly how to conjugate them (that is, change their endings) in the present tense, we can now expand in these two directions.  We are now going to learn more direct Object Pronouns and also find out where they should go in sentences.  I would imagine this might take more than one article, as we are going to take this fascinating subject step by step and try and make sure no-one gets left behind.

First and foremost, let’s remind ourselves about what we are talking about; in other words, what does Direct Object Pronoun actually mean?  To answer this question, let’s look at this sentence:

“The boy reads the book”.

In this sentence boy is the subject and book is the Direct Object.  In other words, the thing that receives the action of the verb ‘reads’.   The word ‘book’ can be replaced by the pronoun it, giving us the sentence:

“The boy reads it”.

We would change a sentence in this way if we already knew what ‘it’ referred to.  In English we call the words that replace Direct Objects in this way Direct Object Pronouns.

One main difference between Spanish and English is in the word order:

“The boy reads the book” in Spanish is “El niño lee el libro”, with the same order as in English.  However, when we say:

“The boy reads it” we place the “lo” in front of the verb, like this: “El niño lo lee” (the boy it reads).

The Direct Object might be a person rather than a thing.  For example, this is how we would say:

“The bus leaves us in the square.” – “El autobus nos deja en la plaza.” (“The bus us leaves …”).  

The Direct Object Pronoun appears before the verb when that verb is what I call ‘live’; in other words it is a conjugated verb agreeing with the subject of the sentence (El autobus deja – third person singular form).  The difference between this and the first examples, such as “Voy a cocinarlo” is that the ‘live’ or conjugated verb in the sentence is ‘voy’, whilst ‘cocinar’ is an unchanging infinitive form, to which object pronouns can be tacked on to the end.

So far I think that is fairly simple, but there is rather a lot more to say about these Direct Object Pronouns, so if you do feel there are some big gaps, hold on tight and I will do my best to expand the subject next month and quite possibly the month after as well!

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.