Use of Pronouns in Spanish
We use personal pronouns to talk about people without naming them. Personal pronouns replace a name or a noun and they come in a variety of forms: singular and plural, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd person, male and female, as well as formal and informal. As with all the sections in this course, this section begins with basic lessons and continues to more advanced lessons.
Pronouns are forms that replace (or hold the place of) nouns. They allow the speaker/writer to maintain reference without repeating the noun. Pronouns can be definite (refer to a specific noun) or indefinite (no specific referent). We will take a more detailed look at each of the following pronoun types:
Function-Related Pronouns: These pronouns change form according to the function of the noun they replace. Function-related pronouns always "definite" (refer to definite things). English pronouns only distinguish subjects (he/him) from objects (in general). Spanish pronouns distinguish subjects and several kinds of object [él = 'he' (subject), lo = 'him' (direct object), le = 'to/for him (indirect object) etc.].
Reflexive Pronouns Reflexive pronouns are a special set of function-related pronouns. The basc function of the refelxive pronoun is to the subject is acting on itself as an object [Sara se cortó. = 'Sarah cut herself.']. However, the third person reflexive pronoun se is a form that disguises a number of different phenomena.
General Pronouns: These pronouns have the same form regardless of their function in a sentence. They are "indefinite" in reference, and may be "negative" or "interrogative" as well. A few examples are: algo = 'something', nada = 'nothing', alguien = someone, nadie = 'nobody', ¿quién? = who?.
Derived Pronouns: These are pronouns formed from other parts of speech. .For example, Spanish demonstrative and possessive pronouns are derived from demonstrative and possessive adjective phrases [Quiero este libro. = 'I want this book' Quiero éste. = 'I want this one.' // El carro mío es nuevo. 'My car is new.' El mío es nuevo. = 'Mine is new.'].
You can see that English pronominalizes phrases by replacing the noun with the pronoun 'one'; Spanish does so by deleting the noun. Another example [la casa grande = 'the big house' la grande = 'the big one'].
The Indefinite "lo": This is an indefinite pronoun that has a number of functions. ]. It refers to concepts or situations that cannot be named with a specific noun. It makes indefinite pronoun expressions out of adjectives [lo importante = 'the important thing']. Lo can replace anything that follows ser or estar [¿Estás enfermo? = 'Are you sick?' Sí, lo estoy. = "Yes, I am (it?).'