Spanish Pronouns – part 1


Personal pronouns are words used to take the place of a noun. Spanish Subject Pronouns are used in a similar way as in English. For example, “I want you to know”. In this sentence “I” and “you” are pronouns (subject pronouns) and they are taking the place of the speaker and the listener respectively. But there is one big difference between these two languages in term of pronouns. In Spanish, these pronouns do not need to be expressed, as the verb itself will identify the subject. Personal pronouns may be divided into subject pronouns, object pronouns, indirect object pronouns and reflexive pronouns.


Subject pronouns

Subject pronouns, as you can suggest, are pronouns that doing the function of the subject of a sentence.

First person singular:                               Yo

Second person singular (informal):          Tú

Second person singular (polite):              Usted

Third person singular:                              Él / Ella

First person plural:                                  Nosotros / Nosotras

Second person plural (informal):             Vosotros / Vosotras

Second person plural (formal):               Ustedes

Third person plural (plural):                    Ellos / Ellas


The third person

As you can see, there are only two third person singular pronouns unlike in English that we have three: “he”, “she” and “it”. There is a reason to explain this. As you know, all nouns are masculine or feminine in Spanish so “it” will always belong to one of these two groups.


The plural forms

As with nouns, the masculine plural form of the pronouns is used to denote a group of people including females. This means that if you use “nosotros”, “vosotros” and “ellos” it does not mean that all the people in that group are men. But if we use the feminine plural form “nosotras”, “vosotras” or “ellas” it means that the group is explusively made of women.

Let’s see a few examples.:

-Nosotros, los españoles, somos simpáticos (We, the Spanish are nice)

(In this case “nosotros” is the pronoun and includes all the Spanish, women included)

– ¿Y tus padres? – Ellos no vienen (- And your parents? – They are not coming)

(In this case, “ellos” includes father and mother even though the word is masculine)

In Spanish, subject pronouns are not frequently used in everyday conversation. This can sound strange because in English, subject pronouns are necessary to show who or what the subject if the verb is referring to. But, in Spanish, the verb has a different ending depending on the subject, providing this information. This makes the subject pronoun not necessary. Anyway, you can use them and it won’t be incorrect but you should be aware to listen the Spanish speakers omitting them in their speeches.

Subject pronouns have differences depending on if you are inSpainorSouth America, and they are a slightly different even within the peninsula.

Subject pronouns uses

– To emphasys:

Yo no voy a hacerlo (I am not doing it)

El no sabe hablar ingles (He can’t speak English)

¿Tú qué quieres? (What do you want?)

– To clarify a misunderstanding:

(-Hoy no va a jugar – ¿Quién, él ?  – No, ella)

– No tiene el dinero – ¿Quién, ella? –Sí, ella)

– For contrast:

Él puede ir pero tú no vas a ir (He can go but you can’t)

Tú no lo sabes pero él sí (You don’t know it but he does)

– To avoid confusion that happens when the same verb ending correspond to more than one grammatical person:

Él era del Barcelona y yo del Real Madrid (He was a Barcelona supporter and I was a Real Madrid supporter)

Yo tenía el pelo moreno y ella lo tenía rubio (I had dark hair and she had it blond)


Informal form vs. Formal form

There are two form of address in Spanish for the same word in English “you”. These are “tú” and “usted” (and vos in some parts of South America asArgentinaandUruguay).

The uses of this two words are different in every country but we can generalize this in two groups, the Spanish and the South American. In general we can say that “tú” is the informal way and “usted” the formal. We have a few rules in common for all the Spanish variants for using one or the other:

– The level of familiarity, closeness or the affective or psychological distance between the speakers

– Courtesy (specially when differences in age)

– The level of formality of the situation or conversation

– Issues of power or autgirity

In general, and especially inSpainwe should use the formal or informal way following theses rules:

– To express familiarity, closeness, affection or informality: tú, vosotros / vosotras

– To express courtesy, difference of age, distance, formality or respect: usted, ustedes.

We hope we helped with the Spanish pronouns. (Spanish info)