A brief look at Spanish Pronouns. This guide will help you make sense of the similarities and differences from English pronouns. You can keep this reference list handy as a cheat sheet for studying.
Differences From English
If you were a whiz at English grammar, the Spanish one shouldn't present too many hurdles. Spanish pronouns are similar to their English counterparts. They are intended to make language usage easier. Instead of repeating an unwieldy or wieldy noun throughout a sentence, you replace it with its much shorter pronoun. So if you are talking or writing about someone called, say, Xavier Marcenhas Amarcantas Verrochio, you use the pronouns 'he', 'him' or 'his' and save time, breath and stiff fingers.
Where similarities end, differences begin. So it is with Spanish and English pronouns. Unlike in English, in Spanish -
- Nearly all pronouns have genders.
- Pronouns are formal and informal.
- Pronouns are singular and plural.
- Subject pronouns can be skipped.
- Demonstrative pronouns point to this (esta), that (ese) and that (aquel).
Subject pronouns are used in place of the subject in the sentence.
The following are subject pronouns:
- Yo (I)
- tú (you, familiar)
- él (he) usted (you, formal)
- ella (she)
- ustedes (you, plural, formal, mas./fem.)
- ellas (they, fem.)
- vosotros and vosotras (you, plural, mas./fem.)
- ellos (they, mas.), nostros and nosatros (we, mas./fem.)
Example - Él es un muchacho encantador; He is a charming boy.
Object pronouns are used as the object of a verb or a preposition.
The following are object pronouns:
- mí (me)
- me (me)
- ti (you )
- usted (you, familiar)
- ustedes (you)
- él (him)
- ella (her)
- ellos (them)
- ellas (them, fem.)
- vosotros, vosotras (you, familiar, Spain)
- nosotros, nosotras (us)
- sí (himself/herself/yourself/themselves/yourselves)
Example – Ella me dio la clave; She gave me the key.
Direct Object Pronouns
Direct object pronouns are used in place of the proper noun
The following are direct object pronouns:
- me (me)
- te (you)
- os (you, plural)
- nos (us)
- el (he)
- ella (she)
- lo (him)
- lo (it)
- las and los (them, you)
Example - Mina dejado temprano. Ella tuvo que ir a casa. - Mina left early. She had to go home.
Indirect Object Pronouns
Indirect object pronouns are used to refer to the person/thing for whom an action is being/has been performed. are used as indirect objects of verbs
The following are indirect object pronouns:
- me (to me)
- te (to you)
- os (to you plural)
- nos (to us)
- la (to her, to him, to it)
- les (to them, you)
Example - Hablé a Jena, Ria y Anita en el teléfono. Les di las noticias - I talked to Jena, Ria and Anita on the phone. I gave them the news.
Reflexive pronouns are used when both direct and indirect objects of a verb refer to the same person. Usually paired with a clarifying prepositional phrase.
The following are reflexive pronouns -
- Me (myself)
- te (yourself)
- os (yourselves)
- nos (ourselves)
- se (himself, herself, themselves)
Example - Nos ayudamos a nosotros mismos; We help ourselves.
Possessive pronouns refer to something owned or possessed by someone show that something belongs to someone,
The following are possessive pronouns -
- Mío (mine)
- mía (mine)
- míos (mine)
- mías (mine)
- suyo (his, hers, theirs)
Example - El mantón es mío; The shawl is mine.
Indefinite pronouns refer to non-specific things or people
The following are indefinite pronouns:
- Algo (something)
- nadie (nobody)
- alguien (anybody)
- todo (all)
- todas (all)
- uno (one)
- unos (some)
- ninguno (none)
Example - Algo sucedió en la ciudad. Todos se sorprendieron. Ninguno puede dar una explicación. Nadie entendía lo que era. - Something happened in the city. All were surprised. None can give an explanation. Nobody understood what it was.
Interrogative pronouns are used in questions.
The following are interrogative pronouns:
- Qué (what)
- Quién (what)
- Donde (where)
- Cuándo (when)
- Que (that, which, who, whom)
- Lo cual (which, that which)
- Quien (who, whom)
- Cuyo (whose)
- Cuyas (whose)
Example - ¿Qué libro prefiere? - What book do you prefer?
Demonstrative pronouns eplace a noun while also pointing to it refer to something that is near or things that are farther away.
The following are demonstrative pronouns:
- Este (this one)
- Esta (this one)
- Esa (that one)
- Esto (this)
- Estos (these)
- Estas (these)
- Ese (that one)
- Eso (that)
- Esos (those)
- Esas (those)
- Aquéllos (those ones)
- Aquel (that one)
- Aquella (that one)
- Aquello (that)
- Aquellas (those)
Example - Éste aquí es mi pintura, aquél allí es su, y esos allí son el suyo. - This one is my painting here, that one is his there, and those are his there.