How to use Indirect Object Pronouns in Spanish: Sentences + Practice

¡Hola! Thanks for joining us in this grammar lesson. We will explain the basic rules to use indirect object pronouns in Spanish in sentences. This lesson includes many examples of sentences and simple explanations. You will also have the chance to practice with an interactive quiz. Let’s start…

What are indirect object pronouns in Spanish?

Indirect object pronouns in Spanish are a special type of pronouns that tell “for whom” or “to whom” the verb’s action affects. To put it differently, these pronouns are words like “Me, te, le…” and others that are linked to the person that becomes the recipient of an action (verb) in a sentence. For example, in the sentence “Yo compré un perro para Claudia”, the complement “para Claudia” would be the indirect object that we want to replace using a pronoun. Following the chart in the next picture, the indirect object pronoun that we need for “ELLA (Claudia)” would be “LE”. This special pronoun will be placed before the verb. Pay attention to the chart and the example in this picture:

Making sentences with indirect object pronouns in Spanish

As you can see, indirect object pronouns will basically tell us who likes, loves or asks about something. These words will be used whenever we may need to make clear who the recipient of an action is. That’s why, they are very helpful to talk about topics such as likes and dislikes to indicate who likes an activity from a group of people. Next, we will be using each of the pronouns in the chart above in sentences:

A mi me gusta comer mariscos. (¿A quién? – A mi )
I like to eat seafood. (¿Who? – me )
A ti te dije que hoy era mi cumpleaños. (¿A quién? – A ti)
I told you today was my birthday. (To whom? – To you)
A María le dieron un reconocimiento en su trabajo. (¿A quién? – A ella)
Maria was given a recognition at work. (Who? – Her)
Le compraron una computadora nueva. (¿A quién? – A él/ella/usted)
They bought him/her a new computer. (To whom? – To him / her / you)
Nos preguntaron si queremos ser parte del grupo de danza. (¿A quién? – A nosotros)
They asked us if we wanted to be part of the dance group. (To whom? – To us)
Os traje los vegetales que necesitabais. (¿A quién? – A vosotros)
I brought you the vegetables you needed. (To whom? – To you)
A los niños les encanta jugar juntos en el parque. (¿A quién? – A ellos)
Children love to play together in the park. (To whom? – To them)

From the previous examples, we can tell that there is no need to add “the recipient” of the action to the sentences if it can be inferred. This means that if we are having a conversation about María, we could omit the “A María” part in the third sentence and just say “Le dieron un reconocimiento…”. That pronoun should tell us we are talking about her or about a guy in a different context. 

The verbs DAR (to give) and DECIR (to say/tell) will need one of these pronouns to complement their meaning. Also, indirect object pronouns are used before the verbs “Aburrir, Doler, Encantar, Fascinar, Gustar, Importar, Interesar, Molestar, Parecer, Quedar”. Otherwise, sentences will sound awkward. Pay attention to these examples:

Ana le dio su número de teléfono ayer.
Ana gave him her phone number yesterday.
La maestra les dijo que dejaran de hacer ruido durante la clase.
The teacher told them to stop making noise during class.
Me aburre ver películas del mismo género todo el día.
It makes me feel bored to watch movies of the same genre all day.
A Juan le molesta el ruido de su motocicleta.
Juan gets annoyed by the noise of his motorcycle.
Nos parece que el proyecto va por buen camino.
It seems to us that the project is on the right track.

Additionally, these pronouns will be added after the infinitive or gerund of verbs when needed, but they will form a single word such as “pagarle”, “encantarme”, “robándole” and so on. It will be the same for commands. To illustrate this, we will make a couple of sentences with the “IR A + infinitive” structure (future tense) and another two with the present progressive in Spanish or “perifrasis durativa”:

Yo voy a comprarle un libro que leí cuando era niño. (¿A quién? – A él/ella/usted)
I’m going to buy him a book that I read as a child. (To whom? – To him / her / you)
Francisco dijo que él va a ayudarnos con la tarea. (¿A quién? – A nosotros)
Francisco said that he is going to help us with the homework. (To whom? – To us)
Los chicos estaban ayudándome a plantar los árboles. (¿A quién? – A mi)
The boys were helping me plant the trees. (to who? to me)
La policía estaba preguntándoles dónde estaban. (¿A quién? – A ellos)
The police were asking them where they were. (To whom? – To them)

Interestingly, we can have both a direct and indirect object pronoun in the same sentence and even within the same verb. For example, in the sentence “Te compraré un cachorro”, the word “TE” is an indirect object pronoun and “un cachorro” is the direct object, which could be replaced by the pronoun “LO”. This way, we could rewrite this sentence as: “Te lo compraré”. Notice the the indirect object pronouns goes before the direct object pronoun. Pay attention to these examples:

Yo compré estos chocolates para ti. / Yo te los compré.
I bought these chocolates for you. / I bought them for you.
Ella cocinó pizza para nosotros. / Ella nos la cocinó.
She cooked pizza for us. / She cooked it for us.
Por favor, compra este helado para mi. / Por favor, compramelo.
Please buy this ice cream for me. / Please buy it for me.

To conclude, what’s interesting about these pronouns is the fact that they specify who will the action affect. If we said, “Ana dio su número ayer”, we are not telling exactly who she shared her phone number with. On the other hand, if we said “Ana nos dio su número…”, then it would mean that it is us who got her number, whereas if we said “Ana os dio su número…”, it would mean that it is you who got it. The same rule applies to most verbs. By adding an indirect object pronoun, we will definitely say “to whom” we are explaining a topic, giving a gift or telling something. 

Prueba de gramática: Los pronombres de objeto indirecto en español

Presta atención a las instrucciones en la prueba interactiva sobre los pronombres de objeto indirecto en español y resuelve cada uno de los ejercicios. Si la prueba no abre, por favor carga la página nuevamente (F5). ¡Buena suerte!

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