Spanish Direct and Indirect Object Pronouns

Teacher Guide by Lourdes Fernandez

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Spanish Direct and Indirect Pronouns Lesson Plans

Student Activities for Spanish Direct and Indirect Object Pronouns Include:

At this point, students have learned about Spanish direct object pronouns. It is now time to introduce indirect object pronouns. Teaching Spanish indirect object pronouns is almost impossible without also addressing direct object pronouns. In the following storyboard activities, students will focus on indirect object pronouns both in isolation and with direct object pronouns. Typically a challenging topic to learn and master, scaffolding and a focus on student production and practice can make a significant difference.

Spanish Direct and Indirect Object Pronouns Lesson Plans, Student Activities and Graphic Organizers

Identify Spanish Direct and Indirect Object Pronouns

To learn Spanish grammar, students often have to learn English grammar first. Indirect objects, like direct objects, can be challenging for students to understand. To ensure that students can successfully identify indirect objects before progressing to teach them indirect object pronouns and their position in a Spanish sentence, students should provide original sample sentences that they think include indirect objects. The following storyboard activity is helpful in illustrating whether or not students really understand indirect objects. Students should practice identifying indirect objects until they reach mastery.

Have students write at least three original sentences that include indirect objects. Then students should parse and label their sentences with the appropriate syntactic labels. Students should begin with simple, straightforward examples, but as they improve, can undertake more challenging examples. In this model storyboard, sentences are intentionally simplistic to clearly demonstrate the roles of subject, verb, direct object, and indirect object. The focus of this activity is on the function of an indirect object. Understanding an indirect object’s place in the sentence and its function help students use them correctly. This skill is especially useful when students craft original, Spanish sentences with indirect object pronouns later in the lesson.

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Place Spanish Indirect Object Pronouns in a Sentence

After learning the definition and function of an indirect object, how to identify it in a sentence, and the Spanish indirect object pronoun forms, students can begin to practice replacing indirect object nouns with pronouns, as well as placing them correctly in a sentence. Often, sentences with indirect objects also have direct objects, so the process requires more attention.

Have students write various, original, sample questions and answers to demonstrate their understanding of indirect object nouns and pronouns. The questions should include indirect object nouns, and the responses should use indirect object pronouns. The process for using indirect object pronouns has multiple steps, and the temptation for a new student is to rush through it, but practicing slowly and methodically leads to fewer errors. Similar to the direct object pronoun exercise, students must proceed deliberately and show each of their steps. In the first row, the student must correctly identify the indirect object noun in their question. It’s possible that the student has chosen a sentence that doesn’t have any indirect objects, in which case they must try again until they are successful with the task of this first row. In the second row, the student must show their process of selecting the correct indirect object pronoun for the response to their question. In this row, students must also be careful to ensure that they are answering the question with the appropriate verb and pronoun changes, if not additional changes. A good example of this is in the second column. The second row cell also requires students to be able to provide the English translation of responses. In the final row, the student puts the conversation together, showing proper placement of the indirect object pronoun. Have students provide as many different examples as needed for mastery.

The test question for identifying the indirect object correctly is, “Subject verb (direct object) to/for whom?”

*If there is an answer to the above question, it is the indirect object.

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Spanish Direct and Indirect Object Pronouns Process

Similar to mastering the process of replacing direct object pronouns or indirect object pronouns in isolation, it’s important for students to practice replacing or using both together. As students consider having both direct and indirect object pronouns in the same clause, they realize the complexity of the topic and the careful attention it requires. Through intentional, repeated practice, students will master the concept and be able to work more quickly. Initially, it is important to work step by step:

  1. Identify the direct object
  2. Identify the indirect object
  3. Determine which pronoun is appropriate for replacing the direct object
  4. Determine which pronoun is appropriate for replacing the indirect object
  5. Re-organize the sentence so that both pronouns are before the conjugated verb and the indirect object pronoun is before the direct object pronoun
  6. Determine if there is a participle or infinitive present and thus if there is a second way to write the sentence. If so, write the sentence a second time, keeping the indirect before the direct and attaching both to the participle or infinitive.
  7. If the two pronouns both start with “L”, change the indirect object pronoun to “se”.

Have students target and write different types of original sentences: ones with simple verbs, ones with participles, ones with infinitives, and if they are advanced enough, ones with commands. Keep in mind that Step #5 will be a little different for sentences with commands. Students can label the columns for their intended sentences and then go through each step methodically as modeled in this storyboard. Ensure that students clearly demonstrate each step.

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Spanish Direct and Indirect Object Pronouns: Placement with Infinitives and Participles

At this point, students have learned how to correctly identify and use indirect and direct objects. They have learned the basic steps of replacing direct and indirect objects with their appropriate pronouns, and now they are ready to advance the concept further. Next, students can be taught that with infinitives and participles there are two options for the word order of these pronouns. Especially with both pronouns present in the sentence, mastery can be tricky, and students should practice until they are comfortable.

Have students create a T-Chart storyboard in which column A is for direct and indirect object pronouns placed before the conjugated verb, and column B is for placing these same pronouns attached to the end of the secondary verb. While there are many situations in which direct and indirect object pronouns can be attached to the secondary verb, especially involving infinitives, the model storyboard illustrates three of the most common—near future tense, present progressive, and tener que + infinitive. For each example, students will craft original questions that include both a direct object and an indirect object. In their responses, students will use pronouns to replace the direct and indirect objects. They must pay careful attention to word order and placement of these pronouns in their responses. Across a row, students will have the same response to a question, but demonstrating the two options for word order.

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Spanish Direct and Indirect Object Pronouns In Context

Students have now learned and practiced all of the basic steps to master direct and indirect object pronoun use. They are ready to use these pronouns in a greater context. Have students write a cohesive narrative that targets substantial use of direct and indirect object pronouns. The assignment expectations can be easily tailored to fit a student’s ability and needs, but requiring students to include at least three different direct object pronouns and at least three different indirect object pronouns is a good starting point. Similarly, with the narrative, students should use at least four cells, but the teacher may require more. For further reinforcement, below each cell, have students list the pronouns used, their translations, and/or if they are direct or indirect.

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Spanish Direct Object Pronouns

me = me
nos = us
te = you
os = you (pl)
le = him/her (*se)
les = them (*se)

Much like direct object pronouns, indirect object pronouns go before conjugated verbs in Spanish, unless there is an infinitive or present participle, in which case they can be attached to these instead. When used with positive commands, however, indirect object pronouns must be attached to the command.

In addition to these rules, indirect object pronouns must be placed before direct object pronouns if they both exist in the same clause. Also, in cases where the indirect object pronoun “le” is followed by direct object pronouns that also start with “l” (lo, la, los, las), “le” is replaced with “se”.

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•   (English) Spanish Direct and Indirect Object Pronouns   •   (Español) Pronombres Españoles Directos e Indirectos   •   (Français) Espagnol Pronoms D'objets Directs et Indirects   •   (Deutsch) Spanisch Direkte und Indirekte Objektpronomen   •   (Italiana) Spagnoli Pronomi Diretti e Indiretti Object   •   (Nederlands) Spaanse Directe en Indirecte Object Voornaamwoorden   •   (Português) Espanhol Pronomes de Objetos Diretos e Indiretos   •   (עברית) כינויי אובייקט ישירות ועקיפים ספרדיים   •   (العَرَبِيَّة) الأسبانية الضمائر كائن المباشرة وغير المباشرة   •   (हिन्दी) स्पेनिश प्रत्यक्ष और अप्रत्यक्ष ऑब्जेक्ट सर्वनाम   •   (ру́сский язы́к) Местоимения Прямого и Косвенного Испанского Языка   •   (Dansk) Spanske Direkte og Indirekte har til Formål Pronominer   •   (Svenska) Spanska Direkt och Indirekt Object Pronomen   •   (Suomi) Espanjan Suora ja Epäsuora Objekti Pronominit   •   (Norsk) Spanske Direkte og Indirekte Objekt Pronomen   •   (Türkçe) İspanyol Doğrudan ve Dolaylı Nesneleri Sırpları   •   (Polski) Hiszpańskie Pośrednie i Pośrednie Atrybuty Przedmiotów   •   (Româna) Pronumele Spaniole Directe și Indirecte Obiect   •   (Ceština) Španělské Přímé a Nepřímé Zájmena Objektu   •   (Slovenský) Španielske Priame a Nepriame Objektové Zámeny   •   (Magyar) Spanyol Közvetlen és Közvetett Object Névmások   •   (Hrvatski) Španjolski Izravni i Neizravni Imovinski Imenici   •   (български) Испански Преки и Непреки Предмети   •   (Lietuvos) Ispanijos Tiesioginis ir Netiesioginis Objektas Įvardžiai   •   (Slovenščina) Španski Neposredni in Posredni Zaimki Objektov   •   (Latvijas) Spānijas Tiešās un Netiešās Objekta Vietniekvārdi   •   (eesti) Hispaania Otsene ja Kaudne Objekt Asesõnad