Today we’ll be learning about the Spanish direct object pronouns la, lo, las, and los. But first, let’s recall what the direct object is.
In our explanation of the direct object, we defined it as the part of the sentence that receives the action from the verb. Consider this example:
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- El gato persigue a los ratones. (The cat chases the mice.)
Here, the action performed by the cat (persigue) is affecting the mice (los ratones), which in this case would be the direct object.
Choosing the right pronoun
Now let’s explore how and when to use the direct object pronouns. We do this when we want to replace the direct object in a sentence. Taking our earlier example, we could say:
- El gato los persigue. (The cat chases them [the mice].)
The direct object here is los. Note that these pronouns always come before the verb.
La, lo, las, and los replace the direct object in the third person (singular and/or plural) él, ella, eso, ellos, ellas, esos, or esas. Check the following table to know when to use each of these:
|Subject Pronoun||Direct Object Pronoun|
|Él (he)||Lo (him)|
|Ella (she)||La (her)|
|Ellos (they, masculine)||Los (them, masculine)|
|Ellas (they, feminine)||Las (them, masculine)|
|Eso (it)||Lo/la (it, masculine/feminine)|
|Esos (masculine plural of it)||Los (them, masculine)|
|Esas (feminine plural of it)||Las (them, feminine)|
Let’s look at a few more sentences:
- Hoy manejé el camión. (I drove the truck today.)
- Hoy lo manejé. (I drove it today [the truck].)
- El doctor me dio la medicina. (The doctor gave me the medicine.)
- El doctor me la dio. (The doctor gave it to me [the medicine].)
- El gerente escribió las cartas. (The manager wrote the letters.)
- El gerente las escribió. (The manager wrote them [the letters].)
- El abogado firmó los contratos. (The lawyer signed the contracts.)
- El abogado los firmó. (The lawyer signed them [the contracts].)
Keep in mind that we use a direct object pronoun when we’ve already mentioned the direct object before in a sentence or conversation, so as to avoid repetition.
- Fui al hospital a buscar medicina, y el doctor me la dio. (I went to the hospital to get some medicine, and the doctor gave it to me.)
In the above example, we use only la when referring to the medicine a second time. We’ve already mentioned medicina, so repeating the word would be somewhat redundant. We wouldn’t really say Fui al hospital a buscar medicina, y el doctor me dio la medicina.
Similarly, here we avoid mentioning contrato a second time by replacing it with lo:
- El abogado firmó el contrato, así que yo también lo firmé. (The lawyer signed the contract, so I also signed it.)
That’s it! You’re ready to start using the pronouns la, lo, las, and los in your Spanish sentences.
Written by Humberto Aparicio