Remember we saw with the bartender’s greeting:
¿Qué te pongo?
… how object pronouns often go before the verb in Spanish while subject pronouns disappear?
Some more examples: Watch the colors.
The positive imperative is an exception to this order. We’ve discussed it a couple of times. So no subtitles to keep you on your toes.
4. Tráeme la cuenta
5. Déjanos los vasos.
6. Ponme más vino, por favor.
Watch what happens when we replace all of the objects (wine, check, glasses) in the above sentences, with a second object pronoun (it; them), colored for gender.
Write this next part down.
1. Gender plays a role. “la” is used because “la cuenta” is feminine; “lo” & “los” due to “el vino” being masculine. All objects have a gender so there is no pronoun for “it” in general.
2. Grammar rules dictate the object pronouns’ order and the need for a different color to represent the direct object. It receives the verb’s action or shows the end result (“the check”, “the wine” in the examples), while the indirect object receives the direct object and is often preceded by a preposition (“to”, “for”, “from”, etc).
No pasa nada
“No big deal”. Literal [read: incorrect] translation: “It happens nothing”.
There is a structure that for once in Spanish isn’t flexible.
For sentences (positive & negative) & questions, the order of object pronouns is:
Indirect obj + direct obj+ verb + subject pronoun (optional).
- “¿Te la traigo (yo)?” [la cuenta]
- Él no me la trae. [el agua]
- Os lo dejamos (nosotros). [un momento]
- Se los pueden traer [los platos]
- Te lo corto [el pollo]
For the imperative.
Verb + indirect object + direct obj (no subject).
Don’t forget that these are almost always said together which sometimes results in accents to indicate the vowel to stress.
- Pónmela (el agua] a mí)
- Déjanoslo (un momento a vosotros)
- Traeselos (los platos a ellos)
A pronoun chart. Remember the Spanish alphabet and pronunciation, ie “meh”, “teh”…, when reading.
“se” is the pronoun used when there are two objects in the third person, singular or plural, masculine or feminine.
Ejemplos en español
- El camarero trae la cerveza a tu hijo.
- Él se la trae.
- La camarera pone el vino a tu hija.
- Ella se lo pone.
- The waiter brings beer to your son.
- He brings it to him.
- The waitress pours wine for your daughter.
- She pours it for her.
We suggest you read the grammar point that deals with the subject, instead of a new themed lesson. In order to express, if you “like” or “dislike” the food, “don’t mind” the smoke or if it “bothers” you, this counter-intuitive structure is how you must do it, or else risk conveying the opposite of you wants.
Also, in some parts of Spain, “le, les” is used for “him” and “them”, instead of “lo” & “los”, which is used only for things. It’s common enough to be known as “Leísmo” with an entry in the English Wikipedia. It’s a natural mistake for English speakers to make, too, because it gives each of our object pronouns a direct translation. The Spanish Royal Academy has stated this type of usage is incorrect so we won’t delve into or condone it, even if Leísmo is still a bad habit we sometimes slip into ;-).
Our game, “Paco Says“, starring my son Paquito, has been specifically designed to help you learn this and other structures. It’s important to get familiar with the placement of the object pronouns, otherwise no one will understand you. If you have a question about this point, let us know in the comment section and we’ll answer it.