Indirect Object

We learned in our introduction that the indirect object respond the question: “to/for whom?” or “to/for what?”

We also learned that, in almost all cases, to have an indirect object the sentence must have a direct object. For example, look at the sentence:

 I give you my book.

Let’s break this sentence down. “I” is the subject. “Give” is the verb. Give what? Give my book. So “my book” is the direct object. Give my book to whom? To you. So “you” is the indirect object. You can remember the difference between direct and indirect objects by remembering that direct objects just answer the question “what/whom?” while indirect objects answer the question “to/for what/whom?” Here’s the list of indirect object pronouns:

me me
te you (familiar)
le  him/her/you (formal)
nos us
les you-all
les  them

Some examples:

Ella le trae una soda.                                     She brings him a soda.
Le doy una cerveza.                                        I give him a beer.

Like direct object pronouns, indirect object pronouns also come before the verb in a sentence. To make the phrase negative, just place no before the indirect object pronoun. To ask a question, everything goes in the exact same place, but with a question mark at the end.

You always need a direct object in order to have an indirect object, but in some sentences you won’t need to use the direct object because it is implicit. For example, let’s take the sentence, “I lie to him.” In Spanish, this is, “Yo le miento.” “Le” is the indirect object (“to him”). The direct object is the lie itself, but you don’t see it in the sentence because it’s implicit in the verb “to lie.”

There are some verbs that always have an indirect object. These include verbs of exchange like vender, dar, regular, pasar, entregar, etc. and verbs of communication like decir, contrar, explicar, promoter, mentir, etc, because by the nature of these verbs, there is always a recipient of their action.


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