Friday, May 11, 2007

Reflexive, Indirect Object and Direct Object Pronouns

I'm confused about certain pronouns. I have no problem with a sentence
such as "Quiero oirte cuando cantarás en la iglesia mañana," but when
speaking to someone whom I'd address as "usted," or when speaking to more
than one person (my Spanish, such as it is, is Latin American, and so
I've never learned the conjugations for "vosotros"), I don't know whether
to use "le/les" or "se," and I don't even know if there's a plural of
"se." Would the above sentence be:

Quiero oirle cuando cantará en la iglesia mañana
Quiero oirles cuando cantarán en la iglesia mañana

Or would I use "se" somehow?

Thanks for clearing this up for me. :)

Robert McKay

Hi Robert! Hope you're doing great.

Before I answer your question about the pronouns, let me correct your sentence. We don't use the future tense here... instead, we use (present) subjunctive. Your sentence should be: "Quiero oirte cuando cantes en la iglesia mañana".

Now, let's try to answer your question. First, let's remember the reflexive, direct object, and indirect object pronouns.

Él / Usted
Ella / Usted
Ellos / Ustedes
Ellas / Ustedes
So, what you need to know is whether you're replacing a direct or indirect object, or if you're using the reflexive form of the verb.

For example, in the following phrases with the verb "ver" (to see), the person/people who are being seen are a direct object (the recipient of the action of a transitive verb).

Te quiero ver cuando cantes(a ti) = Quiero verte
Lo quiero ver (a él, a usted) = Quiero verlo
La quiero ver (a ella, a usted) = Quiero verla
Los quiero ver (a ellos, a ustedes) = Quiero verlos
Las quiero ver (a ellas, a ustedes) = Quiero verlas
Os quiero ver (a vosotros) = Quiero veros

On the other hand, in the following phrases with the veb "decir" (to tell), the person/people who are being told become an indirect object (someone or something that is affected by the action of a transitive verb, but is not the primary object)

Te quiero decir (a ti) = Quiero decirte
Le quiero decir (a él, a ella, a usted) = Quiero decirle
Les quiero decir (a ellos, a ellas, a ustedes) = Quiero decirles
Os quiero decir (a vosotros) = Quiero deciros

In your example, the person who is being hear is a direct object. Therefore, your sentence should go like this:

Quiero verte cuando cantes en la iglesia mañana. (a ti)
Quiero verlo cuando cante en la iglesia mañana. (a él, a usted)
Quiero verla cuando cante en la iglesia mañana. (a ella, a usted)
Quiero verlos cuando canten en la iglesia mañana. (a ellos, a ustedes)
Quiero verlas cuando canten en la iglesia mañana. (a ellas, a ustedes)
Quiero veros cuando cantéis (o canten) en la iglesia mañana. (a vosotros)

Finally, as you can see, "se" belongs only to the reflexive pronouns. So, it wouldn't fit in your sentence. You can use it, for example, with the verb "lavar".

(Él, Ella, Usted) Se lavó las manos.
(Ellos, Ellas, Ustedes) Se lavaron las manos.

In conclusion, what you need to learn and practice is to distinguish if you're referring to direct or indirect objects. Here you'll find another article with a closer look to this topic. I'm sure you'll find it helpful.

Take care,

- Karin

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