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The direct object - Part II



Mouse-over Spanish text fragments in red to see English translation

Direct object introduced by the preposition "a"

The direct object is not introduced by the preposition "a" when it refers to things or objects.

No vio el coche y fue atropellado.
He didn't see the car and got hit.

However, it is introduced by the preposition “a” when it refers to people.

Vi a Lorena en el cine la semana pasada.
I saw Lorena at the movies last week.

There's a phenomenon called "la personificación" which consists on viewing an inanimate object as an alive body. Animals can also fall into this category. In this situation, the direct object is introduced by the preposition “a”.

Baña al perro con champú.
Wash the dog with shampoo.

On the other hand, there's the opposite phenomenon called "la cosificación" which consists on viewing human beings as pure objects.

Los colonizadores transportaron esclavos desde Africa al Nuevo Mundo.
Colonists transported slaves from Africa to the New World.

Direct object - Pronoun Form

The direct object can be substituted for its pronoun form. This phenomenon is called "pronominalización".

The "pronominalización" is used to talk about the direct object without repeating it after it has previously been mentioned in the sentence.

Se me reventó un neumático del coche el otro día. Lo cambié y lo puse en el maletero.
My car's tire burst the other day. I changed it and put it in the trunk.

There are four direct object pronouns depending on the gender and number of it.

  Singular Plural
Masculine lo los
Feminine la las


Mi hermano tiene un perro = Mi hermano lo tiene.
My brother has a dog = My brother has one.

Sonia compró tres latas de refrescos = Sonia las compró.
Sonia bought three cans of soda = Sonia bought them.

The direct object pronoun can be placed before or after the verb:

- in sentences with Subject+Verb+Predicate structures, the pronoun is usually placed before the verb:

Nosotros veremos a nuestros amigos el viernes – Nosotros los veremos el viernes – Nosotros veremoslos el viernes (INCORRECT)

- in the negative imperative form of a verb the pronoun is always placed before the verb:

No comas más hamburguesas - No las comas - No comaslas (INCORRECT)

- in the afirmative imperative form of a verb the pronoun is always placed after the verb:

Dime la verdad – DímelaLa dime (INCORRECT)

- in sentences with two verbs, and the second verb being in the infinitive or gerund form, the pronoun can be placed after the verb in infinitive or gerund or placed before the two verbs:

Quiero conocer a tu novia – Quiero conocerlaLa quiero conocer.