We use personal1 pronouns2 to talk about people. They are usually used to make emphasis on the person or to avoid confusion.
|yo (I, me)||nosotros, nosotras(we, us)|
|tú(you)3||vosotros, vosotras4 (you all)|
|ella(she, her)||ellas(they [females])|
|usted (Ud.)(you [formal])||ustedes (Uds.)(you all [formal])|
They can be used as subject pronouns and object pronouns.
Used as Subject Pronouns
Personal pronouns are considered subject pronouns when they tell us who does the action in the sentence.
Yo quiero bailar.
I want to dance.
Nosotros necesitamos más tiempo.
We need more time.
Usted no tiene por qué estar enojado.
You don’t have any reason to be angry.
Subject pronouns are not always needed because the verb tells the story in Spanish. This means that the verb ending tells us who we are talking about.6
Yo quiero comer.
I want to eat. (emphasis on “I”)
I want to eat.
Nosotros necesitamos dinero.
We need money. (emphasis on “we”)
We need money.
Él no come las verduras.
He doesn’t eat vegetables. (emphasis on “he”)
No come las verduras.
He doesn’t eat vegetables.
See the following example in a phrase:
Hay una chica que se llama Julia; ella tiene muchos zapatos, pero está triste porque quiere tener más zapatos.
There is a girl named Julia; she has a lot of shoes, but [she] is sad because she wants to have more shoes.9
Used as Object Pronouns
We use personal pronouns as object pronouns when they receive the action from the noun, they can go after the verb adding a preposition.10
Vamos a hablar con él.
We’re going to talk with him.
Mis abuelos no trajeron nada para mí.11
My grandparents didn’t bring anything for me.
Entre tú y yo, ese señor está loco.
Between you and me, that guy is crazy.
Julia piensa que todo tiene que ver con ella.
Julia thinks that everything has to do with her.
1. they have to do with people: personal
2. they replace nouns: pronouns
3. instead of tú, some countries in Central America and South America use vos, but they understand tú
4. vosotros/vosotras is mainly used in Spain
5. to see the differences between tú and usted see the chart below.
6. some forms like the forms for él, ella and usted or ellos, ellas and ustedes have the same ending.
7. we know that it’s “I want” because the o at the end of quiero means “I”
8. the –amos in necesitamos means “we”
9. When we know who we’re talking about, we don’t need to say their name or “he” or “she” before the verb. It’s understood without it.
10. Some common prepositions are: a, con, de, para, & por
11. after most prepositions, yo and tú become mí and ti. With con (with) they become conmigo (with me) and contigo (with you).
Here are some of the main differences between tú and usted.
We usually use tú (informal) when talking to:
- spouses / boyfriends / girlfriends / lovers
- animals (pets)
We usually use usted (formal), when talking to:
- people that you don’t know
- people that are more important than you
- people that you respect