More on the use of Spanish Pronouns
The pronouns Nos and Vos are used for the 1st and 2nd person singular, respectively, in poetry and high-flown prose.
Nos is used in Royal decrees; and Vos often to translate the French "vous" and English "you" in novels. They require the verb in the plural and any occurring adjective in the singular, masculine or feminine according to the sex represented:
- Nos el Rey somos justo: We the King are just.
- Vos Doña Catalina sois generosa: You, Lady Catherine, are generous.
A subject pronoun following "to be" and preceding a relative may be followed by a verb in the 1st or 3rd person, as:
- Soy yo quien giré or giró aquella letra: It is I who drew that bill.
Two or more personal pronouns used as subjects of one verb require the verb in the plural, and in the 1st person in preference to the 2nd and 3rd, and 2nd in preference to 3rd, as:
- Yo y tú (or yo y él) vamos; tú y él vais.
A conjunctive pronoun should precede the verb in the Indic. Cond. and Subj. moods, but with the verb in the Indic. or Cond. mood a great latitude is allowed for the sake of euphony or emphasis. The principal idea is to give thereby more prominence to the verb, as:
- Entreguéle los bultos, acordéle toda facilidad para el pago y quise acabarlo todo amistosamente.
The conjunctive pronouns lo, le, are both used for "him," "it" (m.), (direct object); the second is more generally used for a person, but no distinction is strictly observed.
Lo (not le) should however be used for "it," referring to a whole statement.
Lo translates often the English "so," as:
- Lo digo: I say it, I say so.
- Ya lo creo: I should think so.
The conjunctive dative (indirect object) should be le for both genders (sing.). La instead of le for the feminine is however permissible and is used by the best writers.
Les instead of los is often found in the accusative (direct object), masculine plural, but this should not be imitated.
When a conjunctive pers. pronoun follows the verb, the subject pronoun must also follow, as:
- Dígolo yo (not yo dígolo): I say so.
Otherwise the position of the subject pronoun in relation to the verb is very arbitrary, the general practice being, of course, to put it before unless the sentence is interrogative.
The conj. pronouns nos and os following a verb in the Imperative mood require the elision of the s and d termination of the verb, as:
- Escribámonos: Let us write to each other.
- Escribíos: Write to each other.
Conjunctive pronouns are used to substitute the possessive adjective before parts of the body or articles of dress, as:
- Me quebré el brazo: I broke my arm.
- Se lastimó el dedo: He hurt his finger.
- Se puso el sombrero: He put on his hat.
- Me han impuesto una multa sobre los géneros: They have inflicted a fine on my goods.
And in all similar cases when by doing this the possessive may be avoided without creating confusion.
A somewhat similar use of these pronouns is the "ethical" dative, as:
- Póngame aquí un clavo: Put me a nail here.
- Castígueme este muchacho para que aprenda: Punish this boy (for me) so that he may learn.
- Córteme el pelo á este muchacho: Cut this boy's hair.
This "ethical dative" shows the person interested in the action. Its use is much more frequent in Spanish than in English.