The indirect object indicates the person or thing receiving the action of the verb. They can be replaced by the indirect object pronouns below.
||to/for you (familiar)
||to/for you, to him, to her (formal)
||tofor you guys
||to/for you all, to them
The indirect object answers the question “to whom?” or “for whom?”.
Mi novia me compró un reloj.
My girlfriend bought me a watch.
indirect object pronoun - me
Unlike English, Spanish also requires the indirect object pronoun when the indirect object is still present in the sentence.
Yo le di el dinero a Juan ayer.
I gave the money to Juan yesterday.
indirect object - Juan
indirect object pronoun - le (to him)
Pedro me da el dinero.
Pedro gives me the money.
¿Qué te dijo ella?
What did she tell you?
Ellos nos lo dieron.
They gave it to us.
Todos los dias le doy cuerda a mi reloj.
I wind my watch every day.
Indirect object pronouns can also go after the verb:
Déjame presentarte a Susana.
Let me introduce you to Susana.
Dile a tus amigos adónde vas si sales del hotel.
Tell your friends where you are going if you leave the hotel.
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Indirect object pronouns are the words that take the place of the noun. They are shown in the table below:
||to/for you, to him, to her
||to/for you guys
||to/for you all, to them
Footnote: "se" substitutes for "le" when "le" comes before "lo, la, los or las" in a sentence.
Ella le da un oso (a bone) al perro. -----> Ella se lo da.
The indirect object indicates "to whom" or "for whom" the action of the verb is performed. Sentences that have an indirect object often also have a direct object. The example below illustrates the direct object and indirect object of a simple sentence.
She gave me the report.
What is the direct object? - the report
Who received the report? - Me
What is the indirect object? - Me
"Me" is the indirect object because it tells us who the report was given to.
The direct object is not always stated; in some cases it is implied.
My girl friend writes me every day.
What is the direct object? - letter (implied)
Who received the letter? - me
What is the indirect object? - me
"me" is the indirect object because it tells us who the letter was written for.
There are some general rules for using indirect object pronouns:
1. They precede conjugated verbs and negative commands:
2. They can precede or follow infinitives and present participles.
3. They follow and are attached to affirmative commands.
Dile que el partido empieza a las siete.
Tell him/her that the game starts at seven.
The example sentences should help you understand proper use:
Pablo me compra una bicicleta.
Paul buys me a bicycle.
Paul buys a bicycle for me.
Pablo te compra una bicicleta.
Paul buys you a bicycle.
Paul buys a bicycle for you.
Pablo le compra una bicicleta.
Paul buys him (her, you) a bicycle.
Paul buys a bicycle for him (her, you).
Pablo nos compra una bicicleta.
Paul buys us a bicycle.
Paul buys a bicycle for us.
Pablo os compra una bicicleta.
Paul buys you guys a bicycle.
Paul buys a bicycle for you guys.
Pablo les compra una bicicleta.
Paul buys them (you all) a bicycle.
Paul buys a bicycle for them (you all).
The indirect object pronouns (le) and (les) are ambiguous. They can have several meanings. The proper meaning must be taken from the context of the sentence. The example below shows how the meaning of (le) and (les) changes with each sentence.
Ella le llama a Juan.
le = him (Juan)
Ella le llama a su hermana.
le = her (hermana)
Ella le llama a usted.
le = you (usted)
Ella les llama a sus padres.
les = them (padres)
Ella les llama a ustedes.
les = you all (ustedes)