Direct Object

Like English,  Spanish uses direct objects (me, te, lo/la, nos, os, los/las) to refer to people, animals, or things. In other words, they substitute the nouns in a sentence. We can identify them because they recibe the action of the verb and answer the questions “what?” or “whom?” with regard to what the subject of the sentence is doing.

For example, 

    Teresa ama a su esposo. --> Teresa lo ama.

    Teresa loves her husband. --> Teresa loves him

   ¿A quién ama teresa? --> A su esposo.

   Whom does Teresa love? --> Her husband.

   

    Teresa ama sus plantas-->  Teresa las ama.

    Teresa loves her plants. --> Teresa loves them.

    ¿Qué ama Teresa? --> Sus plantas

   What does Teresa love? --> Her plants

   

As you have noticed above, the direct object agrees in number and gender. Moreover, the direct object is placed in front of the verb and not after like in English. 

Below a table with all direct objects:

 

The main objective of the objects in a language like Spanish is trying to avoid repetition and economize and simplify the language. Please, make sure you memorize all of them before continue your learning. In Spanish, the use of the object is fundamental.

Important: In Spanish, when a direct object is a person or animal, it is preceded by the preposition “a.” This preposition does not have any translation from Spanish to English. However, omitting it is considered a serious grammar mistake thus it is important that you do not forget to use it. 

For example,


    Victoria baña a su bebé. 

    Ella ama a su gato.

    Yo llamo a mi hija todos los fines de semana. 

 When an object is an inanimate object the preposition "a" is omitted. 

    Victoria lava los platos.

    Ella ama su país. 

    Yo llamo a* la compañía.

 

Note: some verbs such as "llamar" require the use of the preposition "a" regardless if the object is a person/animal or inanimated thing). We will see more examples when we study indirect objects. 

Examples, 

    Mi mamá me ama y yo la amo a ella.

    El carro es nuevo. Lo uso para ir al trabajo. 

    Mi hermano está aprendiendo español. Él lo quiere aprender para poder hablar con su novia mexicana.  

    Ella dice que quiere cambiar de habitación. ¿Por qué te lo dice?

    ¿Tienes el nuevo PS5? No lo tengo pero lo quiero comprar por Internet. 

    ¿Dónde están tus amigos? No los veo. 

    ¿Tu mamá conoce a tu novia? No la conoce aún.

    Estoy llamando a Gloria desde anoche. La llamo para saber cómo está pero no contesta mis llamadas. 

    No puedo encontrar las llaves. No las veo desde ayer. 

    El jefe nos llama para hablar sobre el nuevo proyecto de compañía. 

    Patricia nos envía una invitación para asistir a su fiesta de cumpleaños. 

    Os quiero en mi oficina a las ocho de la mañana. 

    Los llamo cuando llegue a España. 

Note: when in a sentence there are two verbs together, the first one is conjugate and the second one keeps its infinitive form. In those cases, the direct object can be placed in front of both verbs or attach to the infinitive verb.

 

Here an example,

    ¿Puedes comprar leche?

    ↪ Sí, la puedo comprar después de clase. / Sí, puedo comprarla después de clase

    Necesito hablar con tu jefe.

    ↪ Claro, lo puedes llamar a su oficina. / Claro, puedes llamarlo a su oficina.

    

    ¿Me puedes ayudar? / ¿Puedes ayudarme?

    ↪ Sí, claro. Si vienes a mi casa, puedo ayudarte.

    ↪ Hoy estoy muy ocupado. No te puedo ayudar.

The same grammar rule applies to gerunds. 

For example,

    

    Necesito hablar con mi padre.

    ↪ Lo estoy llamando pero no contesta el teléfono/ Estoy llamándolo pero no contesta el teléfono. 

    Estoy viendo una película. 

    ↪ La estoy viendo en mi habitación. / Estoy viéndola en mi habitación. 

    

Important: when you attach the direct object to the gerund a new word comes out. It means that the word may have a different intonation thus it may have an accent mark as a consequence of this modification.

At this level, my recommendation is that you always place the object in front of the verbs. It may e easy for you. However, it is a personal decision. 

Exercises,               

The answer of the exercises are here.

Note: it takes time to place the object in front of the verb and not after it. Keep practicing and you will see how you will get used to doing it. 

 

It is important to mention that additionally to the direct objects, in Spanish, we also use (a mí / a ti / a él / a ella / a usted /a nosotros /a ellos /a ustedes... etc.) We use them to talk about people and their use are the following. 

 1. Clarification

 

As you saw in the table above, some objects such as "las" can refer to more than one personal pronoun. In some situations without context, it may be confusing. For example:

The problem with the sentence above is that the listeners may feel confused since "las" can refer to "a ellas" or "a ustedes". 

That is why in Spanish it is very common to add more information in the sentences to avoid misunderstandings.

 

For example,

Yo las veo a ustedes todos los días en la universidad. 

Yo las veo a ellas todos los días en la universidad. 

 2. Contrasting

Similar to the previous use, the object can be used to express contrast. The best way to understand it is by giving you some examples.

    Mi mamá me ama pero yo no la amo (a ella).

    Yo necesito a mis padres pero ellos no me necesitan (a mí).

 

Note: in most cases, you can omit (a mí /a ti /a él /a ella /a usted... etc). Unless you want to contrast or emphasize as we will see below.

 3. Emphasizing

   (A mí) ellos no me conocen en el barrio. (they know people in the neighborhood but not me [only me])

    (A ellos) la gente no los escucha. (people can hear other people but not them [only them])

Once again, you can omit (a mí /a ti /a él /a ella /a usted... etc). Unless you want to contrast or emphasize. If it is hard to understand, I fully understand since there is no translation possible between Spanish and English. However, it is something you will learn by practicing and listening to Spanish native speakers talking. So, please, do not give up. 

  

 

Indirect Object

 

We use the direct objects (me, te, le, nos, os, les) to refer to people, animals, or things. In other words, they substitute the nouns in a sentence as well. However, unlike the direct verbs, the indirect verbs do not receive the actions of the verbs but the benefit of the actions. 

Pay attention to the following example,

    Yo envío dinero a mi madre

In this example, el dinero is the direct object since it receives the direct action of the verb. In other words, el dinero is sent by the son to his mom.

 

Therefore, we would say,​

    Yo lo envío a mi madre. --> I send it to my mom

On the other hand, "mi madre" is the indirect object in the sentence since she is who receives the benefit and she is not affected by the action of the verb. 

Therefore, we can substitute "mi madre" for the indirect object pronoun "le", as you will see below.

 

    Yo le envío dinero. --> I send her money

However, as it happens with the direct objects, it may be confusing for the listener if he/she has no information about who is "le" in the conversation. Remember that "le" can refer to "a él", "a ella", "a usted", "a mi madre", "a tu papá", and so on. That is why it would be very convenient to add more information in the sentence.

For example,

    Yo le envío dinero a mi madre.

    Yo le envío dinero a ella.

    Yo le envío dinero a tu familia

    Yo le envío dinero a usted

    Yo le envío dinero a Alberto

Remember that "a él", "a ella", "a usted", "a mi madre", "a tu papá" can be omitted anytime as long as the listener knows whom we refer to. 

Let's see some helpful examples of indirect objects. 

    ¿Qué te regalan tus padres en Navidad?

    ↪ Ellos me regalan dinero y yo les regalo ropa generalmente. 

    

     ¿Qué le dices a tu novio cuando está enojado?

    ↪ No le digo nada. 

    ¿Cuándo tu jefe les envía el dinero a ellos?

    ↪ Mi jefe les envía el dinero mañana.

    Mi madres nos envía saludos. 

    Yo os doy mi palabra.

    El vecino nos trae noticias de la capital. 

    El abuelo les compra a los niños helados todos los fines de semana. 

Indirect Object + Direct Object in the same sentence

Probably you are wondering what about if we use both objects (direct and indirect) in the same sentence. 

 

For example,

    I send it to her

If I ask you to translate the sentence above you probably write as follows.

    Yo le lo envío. 

If you did it in that way, you have done a good try. However, in Spanish, it is incorrect because of phonetic issues. In Spanish, le lo and le la sound annoying, it not elegant (to say it in some way). Therefore, the right way would be as follows.

    Yo se lo envío. 

As you see above, the indirect object "le" has changed for "se". It only happens with "le" and "les" the rest of the indirect objects do not change. 

    Let's see some helpful examples,

    El condominio envía los recibos a los dueños de los apartamentos mensualmente. 

    ↪ El condominio se los envía mensualmente. 

    La compañía de Jorge le vende computadoras (a la alcaldía de Madrid)

    ↪ La compañía de Jorge se las vende.  

    Nuestros familiares compran nuestros productos.  (the inderect object does not appear but it is implicit in the sentence)

    ↪ Nuestros familiares nos los compran

    El jefe le dice a Miguel que no tiene tiempo para hablar con él

    ↪ El jefe se lo dice siempre.  (in this case "lo" represent what the boss say to Fabian)

    Mi mamá le dice a María que llegue antes de las 12:00 a.m

    ↪ Mi mamá se lo dice cada vez que María sale en la noche. --> My mom say it to her .

   

Important: we always use the direct object "lo" to refers to what a person says, a comment for example, regardless of the gender of the speaker. 

    

    

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