Use of Direct Object Pronouns  

Direct and Indirect Objects

Pronouns are words that we use to replace nouns in sentences. We use them to avoid unnecessary repetition. Take a look at the following conversation.
    "Do you have the book?"
    "No, I don't have the book."
    "Do you know if Mary has the book?"
    "No, I don't know if Mary has the book."

In order to avoid repetition, we use pronouns to replace nouns once we have made it clear what we are talking about. We would replace "the book" with the word "it."

    "Do you have the book?"
    "No, I don't have it."

Look at the following sentence:

  • I need the book.

The word "I" is the subject of the sentence. "The book" is the DIRECT OBJECT of the verb. Now, if we replace the direct object with a pronoun (in this case the word "it"), we would call this the DIRECT OBJECT PRONOUN.

In English when we replace a singular noun with a pronoun used as a direct object, we only have one choice, the word "it". We have two categories of nouns in Spanish, the "O" category and the "A" category.

Let's take a look at the following sentence in Spanish.

  • Juan necesita la revista.

John is the subject of the sentence. What does he need? He needs the magazine. That would be the direct object of this sentence.

If we want to take out the phrase "the magazine" and replace it with a direct object pronoun we would have to follow these steps.

  • Remove the phrase, "la revista".
  • We use the word "la", which was used to mean "the" as our new direct object pronoun, which now would be translated as "it".
  • Take the word "la" and move it in front of the verb. The sentence in Spanish would then look like this.
  • Juan la necesita.

This would be like saying in English, "John IT needs". Notice that in Spanish we will not always have a word for word translation of what we say in English. Often the word order will be different in Spanish. Now let's take a look at another sentence. This time we will use a plural noun as the direct object.

  • Juan necesita las revistas.

We will remove the phrase "las revistas" (the magazines) and keep the word "las" which was used to mean "the". We take the word "las" and once again, we move it in front of the verb.

  • Juan las necesita.

An exact word for word translation in English would be, "John THEM needs".

Let's see what happens if the noun which is used as the direct object is from the "O" category. Take a look at the following sentence.

  • Juan necesita los libros.

First we are going to drop the phrase, "los libros". We will keep "los" and move it in front of the verb.

  • Juan los necesita.

Up to this point we can see a logical pattern developing. If we use an "O" category noun in the singular form, however, we will find that the situation gets a little bit more complicated.

  • Juan necesita el libro.

We would expect to take the word "el" and move it in front of the verb, after dropping the word "libro". In this case, however, instead of using "el" to mean "it" as a direct object, Spanish uses the word "lo".

  • Juan lo necesita.

This is an exception in the pattern. We could make a chart of the direct object pronouns in Spanish which are used when we replace nouns that represent things.

             "O" NOUNS        "A" NOUNS
SINGULAR     LO                LA
PLURAL       LOS               LAS

Popular Phrase: how to learn spanish | Spanish Verb Conjugator | Conjugated Verb: reñir - to quarrel, fight; to scold, tell off, reprimand [ click for full conjugation ]