In Part 1 of this lesson we learned how to use singular direct and indirect pronouns to substitute direct and indirect objects. We will now continue with the plural forms.
For your reference, here's a table showing how the direct and indirect object pronouns in Spanish are identical except for the third-person singular and plural (him, her, it, them, formal you), and the second-person plural (you) forms:
|Subject pronouns||Direct object pronouns||Indirect Object pronouns|
él, ella, usted
|lo, la|| |
|le||him, her, you|
|you (plural familiar)||os||you (plural familiar)||os||you (plural familiar)|
|ellos, ellas, ustedes||they, you (plural formal)||los, las||them, you (plural formal)||les||them, you (plural formal)|
You can clearly see that nos (us) is the first-person plural form of both the direct and indirect object pronouns in Spanish. It follows that the pronoun nos (us) is used to substitute a direct object. Remember that we need a transitive verb in order to have a direct object. Here's a good example:
Y del cielo van cayendo cristales, nos lavan
And from the sky, crystals start falling, they wash us
Caption 9, Aterciopelados - RíoPlay Caption
But nos (us) can also be used as an indirect pronoun to substitute an indirect object:
Nos darán una degustación.
They will give us a tasting.
Caption 27, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 15Play Caption
In the previous example, nos is the indirect object, while una degustación (a tasting) is the direct object. So, to substitute both objects you must say: Nos la darán (They will give it to us).
Now, the pronoun os (you) is used as a direct object by people who use vosotros (you), mainly in Spain:
Os esperamos pronto.
We expect you soon.Play Caption
In the Americas, where people use ustedes (you) rather than vosotros (you), the direct pronoun is either los or las:
Los esperamos pronto.
We expect you soon.
But if, for example, we are talking to a group of only girls, we use las (you):
Las esperamos pronto.
We expect you (feminine plural) soon.
Now, to substitute the indirect object, Spaniards use the same pronoun, os (you):
Os doy un ejemplo.
I give you (plural) an example.
In the previous example, os is the indirect object, while the direct object is un ejemplo (an example), a masculine noun that according to our table should be substituted by the direct pronoun lo. So, if we were to substitute both objects, we would say os lo doy (I give it to you). If we were talking about una explicación (an explanation), then we would say os la doy (I give it to you). If we were talking about unos consejos (some words of advice), we would say os los doy (I give them to you), and so on.
In the Americas, on the other hand, the indirect pronoun is les (you) for both masculine and feminine forms. So, using a modified version of the previous examples:
Les doy un ejemplo, muchachos.
I give you an example, guys.
Les doy un ejemplo, muchachas.
I give you an example, girls.
What if we were to substitute both objects in the Latin American way? Can we say les lo doy? The answer is no, because, as we mentioned in Part I of this lesson, there's a special rulefor combining pronouns when le(s) and lo(s)/la(s) would end up next to each other in a sentence: you must use se instead. So we must say se lo doy, muchachos (I give it to you, guys). If we were giving una explicación (an explanation) to a group of girls, then we would say se la doy, muchachas (I give it to you, girls). If we were talking about giving unos consejos (some words of advice) to a group of guys, we would say se los doy (I give them to you), and so on.
Finally, for the third-person plural, los and las are used for the direct object in both Spain and the Americas:
Yo doy ejemplos a mis alumnos / Yo los doy a mis alumnos.
I give examples to my students / I give them to my students.
Ella da explicaciones a las maestras / Ella las da a las maestras.
She gives explanations to the teachers / She gives them to the teachers.
And les is used for a plural indirect object, no matter whether it's feminine or masculine:
Yo doy ejemplos a mis alumnos / Yo les doy unos ejemplos.
I give examples to my students / I give them examples.
Ella da explicaciones a las maestras / Ella les da explicaciones.
She gives explanations to the teachers / She gives them explanations.
And now let's see how to substitute both direct and indirect objects in the previous examples. For the indirect object you have to use se instead of les because you can never say les los or les las:
Yo doy ejemplos a mis alumnos / Yo se los doy.
I give examples to my students / I give them to them.
Ella da explicaciones a las maestras / Ella se las da.
She gives explanations to the teachers / She gives them to them.
Finally, remember that Spanish also uses the third-person forms of the pronouns to address people formally. So:
Direct object, singular:
Yo la escucho, señora / Yo lo escucho, señor.
I listen to you, ma’am / I listen to you, sir.
Indirect object, singular:
Yo le preparo té, señora / Yo le enciendo el cigarro, señor.
I prepare tea for you, ma’am / I light up the cigarette for you, sir.
Indirect object, plural (in the Americas the familiar and formal forms are the same; in Spain the familiar is os and the formal is les):
Yo doy ejemplos a ustedes / Yo los doy a ustedes / Yo les doy ejemplos / Yo se los doy.
I give examples to you / I give them to you / I give examples to you / I give them to you.