Pronoun Use with Positive and Negative Commands in Spanish

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Spanish Pronouns

After learning how to form Spanish commands, there are still a few things to learn in order to correctly use the imperative tense including pronoun use and written accents.

Pronoun Use - Subject Pronouns

The subject pronoun is not required when forming commands. However, it may be used for clarity or emphasis. When included, the pronoun should be placed after the verb in the sentence. For example:

  • No vuelvas tú a mi casa. / Don’t return to my house.
  • Vengan Uds. a la biblioteca. / Come to the library.

Pronoun Use - Other Pronouns

Other pronouns include direct object pronouns, indirect object pronouns, and reflexive pronouns. There are specific rules for the placement of these pronouns when forming Spanish commands, and the placement differs in positive and negative commands.

Positive Commands

For positive commands in Spanish, place object pronouns and reflexive pronouns after the verb. Connect the command and any pronouns as if they were one word. Place an indirect object pronoun before a direct object pronoun as it is done in sentence construction. In addition, the indirect object pronouns le and les change to se when paired with a direct object pronoun beginning with the letter L (lo, la, los, las).

Direct object pronoun:

  • Tómala. / Take it.
  • Léalos Ud. / Read them.

Direct and indirect object pronouns:

  • Dámelas. / Give them to me.
  • Tráiganselo Uds. / Bring it to him/her/them.

Reflexive pronoun:

  • Vete. / Go. or Leave.
  • Siéntense Uds. / Sit down.

Negative Commands

For negative commands in Spanish, place object pronouns and reflexive pronouns between no and the verb. The command and pronouns remain separate words. Again, place indirect object pronouns before direct object pronouns, and change le and les to se when combined with a direct object pronoun beginning with L.

Direct object pronoun:

  • No los compra Ud. / Don’t buy them.
  • No lo hagas. / Don’t do it.

Direct and indirect object pronouns:

  • No me lo digan Uds. / Don’t say it to me.
  • No se las vendas. / Don’t sell them to him/her/them.

Reflexive pronoun:

  • No se caigan Uds. / Don’t fall down.
  • No te duermas. / Don’t fall asleep.

Written Accents

Remember that in Spanish, the spoken accent falls on the second-to-last syllable when a word ends in a vowel, -n, or -s. Any exceptions require a written accent on the vowel. In order to preserve the pronunciation of the verb when you use pronouns with positive commands, you may also need to add a written accent to the verb. For instance, dime (tell me) does not require an accent. The word ends with a vowel, so the stress should fall on the second-to-last syllable. DI-me is the correct pronunciation, so you do not need to add a written accent. However, what if you needed to say “tell me” to a person who requires a more respectful form of address? You would turn to the usted form: dígame. This command requires an accent because emphasizing the second-to-last syllable (di-GA-me) is incorrect. With the written accent, the command can properly be spoken and written as DI-ga-me.

Correct pronoun usage is essential for clear communication. Continue practicing your use of pronouns with Spanish commands until the formations come easily.