Using Pronouns in a Sentence

One Verb

When the sentence has a simple verb (one verb), the object pronoun comes after the subject pronoun, and before the verb.

Yo (subject pronoun) lo (object pronoun) llamo (verb).         I call him.

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Two Verbs

When the sentence has a complex verb (made up of two verbs), the object pronoun can either be
a) before the first verb, in the same place it is when there’s just a simple verb
or
b) attached to the end of the second verb.

For example:

Ella lo quiere felicitar.           She wants to congratulate him.
Ella quiere felicitarlo.            She wants to congratulate him.

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When There’s More Than One Object Pronoun in a Sentence

RID Rule: Reflexive Pronoun, Indirect Object, Direct Object

There are three types of object pronouns in this rule, but you can never have more than two object pronouns in a sentence. Why? Because there’s only room in a sentence for one direct object pronoun representing all of your direct objects, and one indirect object pronoun representing all of your indirect objects—and a reflexive pronoun is just a type of the former.

When you have two object pronouns in a sentence, these pronouns will always appear in the RID order: reflexive pronoun, indirect object and direct object. These pronouns can appear in these possible combinations: reflexive-indirect (rare), reflexive-direct, and indirect-direct.

Let’s take a look at some examples. We’ll italicize the reflexive pronouns, underline the indirect ones, and bold the direct ones. We’ll also look at examples both with a simple verb and a complex one.

Reflexive – Direct

Yo me los pongo                 I put them on.
El se los quire poner.         He wants to put them on.
El quiere ponerselos.         He wants to put them on.

Indirect – Direct

Ella me lo da.                        She gives it to me.
Ella no me lo quiere dar.     She doesn’t want to give it to me.
Ella no quiere darmelo.      She doesn’t want to give it to me.


The L-L Rule

In a sentence, when the direct and the indirect objects both begin with an “l”, the first pronoun (the indirect object) changes to se.

For example: In the sentence “I bring it to her,” both the indirect object and the direct object begin with an “l”: to her = le for the indirect object, and “it” = lo for the direct object. So, without the rule, the sentence would be: “Yo le lo traigo.” But, because of the L-L Rule, the indirect object changes to se. So, the sentence becomes: “Yo se lo traigo.”

Let’s see one more example:

I tell it to him.
Yo le lo digo. → Yo se lo digo.

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