Guide To Mastering Indirect Object Pronouns In Spanish

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In a previous post, we gave you the low-down on direct object pronouns, and in this post, we will concentrate on teaching you how to master indirect object pronouns in Spanish. 

First, let’s recap the difference between both types of pronouns.

  • A direct object pronoun receives the action of the verb
  • An indirect object pronoun is who/whom/what the action of the verb is being done for.

Let’s take a simple sentence.

  • I want to buy flowers for my girlfriend – Quiero comprar flores para mi novia

In this sentence:

  • The action verb is “to buy”,
  • The direct object would be “the flowers”, since that’s we what we are buying
  • The indirect object is “my girlfriend”, since the action is being done for her

A shortcut to easily remembering this is by knowing that an indirect object will always be preceded by prepositions like “a” and “para”, as the action is intended for someone or something else.

Using the above example, we can replace the indirect object (the girlfriend) with the proper pronoun.

  • I want to buy her flowers – Quiero comprarle flores

(notice that we keep the direct object ie. the flowers)

How To Identify An Indirect Object In A Sentence

An easy rule for remembering how to find the indirect object is by asking, for who/whom/what the action is being done for?

Or who is receiving the benefit of the main action?

For complex sentences (or ones that are particularly long), you can simply ask: Who is the main action for?

(remember, for direct objects we ask who or what the action is being done on, not for)

Let’s clarify this point by looking at a specific example:

  • He cooks the food for his wife  – Él cocina la comida para su esposa

Now we ask, who does he cook the food for? The answer is his wife (for her).

  • He cooks her food – Él le cocina la comida

(Here the direct object here is “the food” since that receives the action of the verb “to cook”)

Now you know how to find indirect pronouns.

Let’s take a look at how indirect objects work for every personal pronoun.

List Of Indirect Object Pronouns

Personal Pronoun Indirect Object Pronoun English
Yo Me Me
Te You
Él / Ella / Usted Le Him / Her / You (formal)
Nosotros / Nosotras Nos Us
Ustedes Les You
Ellos / Ellas Les Them

Let’s see a basic example of an indirect object pronoun in action:

  • Carlos has bought a gift for his sister – Carlos ha comprado un regalo a su hermana
  • Carlos has bought her a gift – Carlos le ha comprado un regalo (Le = a su hermana)

At this point, it makes sense to split Indirect Object Pronouns into singulars and plurals, so that you can easily recognize how and when to use them properly according to the circumstance.


Personal pronoun Indirect object pronoun English
Yo Me Me
Te You
Él / Ella / Usted Le / Se Him / Her / You (formal)

Some examples:

  • My father gave me a guitar  – Mi padre me regaló una guitarra
  • We want to accompany you  – Nosotros te queremos acompañar
  • You said yes (to him, to her) – Tú le dijiste que si (a él, a ella)
  • I respect you very much – Yo le tengo mucho respeto


Personal pronoun Indirect object pronoun English
Nosotros / Nosotras Nos Us
Ustedes / Ellos / Ellas Les / Se Them

Some examples:

  • He will take us to the beach – Él nos llevará a la playa
  • She will help you (plural) tomorrow  – Ella les ayudará mañana
  • Carmen makes them meals every day – Carmen les hace la comida todos los días
  • Carlos and Ana accompany us to work  – Carlos y Ana nos acompañan al trabajo

Placing Spanish Indirect Object Pronouns In A Sentence

There are several scenarios whereby the placement of indirect object pronouns will change, depending on the form of the action verb in the sentence.

1) Indirect Object Pronoun + A Conjugated Verb

When the main verb is conjugated, we can only use the pronoun before the verb

  • Pronoun (indirect object) + conjugated verb + complement

For example:

  • My son gave me a beautiful dress – Mi hijo me regaló un vestido hermoso
  • I will buy the house, it is an incredible offer – Les compraré la casa, es una oferta increíble

2) Indirect Object Pronoun +  Infinitive Verb

Normally, when there is an infinitive verb in the sentence, it is preceded by a conjugated verb. You need to be careful not to confuse this with the previous scenario (conjugated verbs).

In this case, we have two options.

We can place the pronoun before the conjugated verb, or after the infinitive verb.

  1. Pronoun (indirect object) + conjugated verb + infinitive verb + complement
  2. Conjugated verb + infinitive verb + pronoun (indirect object) + complement

For example, we can translate the below sentence both ways and the meaning will be the exact same.

English: Do you want to help us with homework?

  1. Nos quieren ayudar con la tarea?
  2. Quieren ayudarnos con la tarea?

3) Indirect Object Pronoun + Progressive Verb

Similar to the previous one, this one normally works with two verbs, one conjugated and the other verb in its progressive form

In this case, we can put the pronoun before the conjugated verb or after the progressive verb

  1. Pronoun (indirect object) + conjugated verb + progressive verb + complement
  2. Conjugated verb + progressive verb + pronoun (indirect object) + complement

Once again, the below sentence could be translated in two different ways without changing the meaning.

English: They are doing us a great favor

  1. Nos están haciendo un gran favor
  2. Están haciéndonos un gran favor

4) Indirect Object Pronoun + Imperatives

For commands, we use the imperative mode and can add pronouns after the verb:

Verb (imperative) + pronoun (indirect object) + complement

For example:

  • Give us the report before noon please – Entréganos el reporte antes del mediodía por favor
  • Remind me to buy food for the dog – Recuérdame comprar comida para el perro

5) Indirect Object Pronoun In The Negative Form

This form is relatively straight-forward.

No + indirect object + verb

For example:

  • Do not do this to us – No nos hagas esto
  • Daniela did not tell them anything about the meeting – Daniela no les dijo nada sobre la reunión
  • They are not doing well – Ellas no lo están haciendo bien
  • She hasn’t written to him in months- Ella no le ha escrito en meses

Practice: Indirect Object Pronouns In Spanish


1. Use all the following words to create a sentence using indirect object pronouns (add connectors if it’s necessary):

  1. Yo / Poder / Cantar / Canción / Ustedes
  2. Carlos / Querer / Visitar / Ella
  3. Mis amigos y yo / Compramos / Hamburguesas / Ellos
  4. Mis Padres / Desear / Visitar / Vacaciones / Su Nieto
  5. Tú / Ayudar / Con / Trabajo / Yo
  6. Ana / Estar / Cocinar / Familia y yo

2. Correct the following sentences with the right indirect object pronoun:

  1. Queremos les decir un secreto (a ustedes)
  2. Luís puede enviarle el paquete por correo (a mi)
  3. Les daré una sorpresa en su cumpleaños (a ella)
  4. Jorge puede hacerme el diseño de la casa (a ellos)
  5. Estás me ayudando muchísimo, gracias (a mi)
  6. Cómprame ese juguete por favor (a él)



  1. Yo puedo cantarles una canción – Les puedo cantar una canción (I can sing you a song)
  2. Carlos quiere visitarla – Carlos la quiere visitar (Carlos wants to visit her)
  3. Nosotros les compramos unas hamburguesas (We bought them hamburgers)
  4. Ellos desean visitarlo (They want to visit him)
  5. Ayúdame con el trabajo (Help me with the work)
  6. Ana está cocinándonos – Ana nos está cocinando (Ana is cooking for us)


  1. Queremos decirles un secreto – Les queremos decir un secreto
  2. Luís puede enviarme el paquete por correo – Luís me puede enviar el paquete por correo
  3. Le daré una sorpresa en su cumpleaños
  4. Jorge puede hacerles el diseño de la casa – Jorge les puede hacer el diseño de la casa
  5. Estás ayudándome muchísimo, gracias – Me estás ayudando muchísimo, gracias
  6. Cómprale ese juguete por favor

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