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Grammar bits: Confused with le, lo, la?

Updated: Apr 28, 2023


Did you know that in Spanish, direct pronouns replace the direct object of a sentence, while indirect pronouns replace the indirect object? Direct pronouns answer the questions "what?" or "whom?" and usually come before the verb, whereas indirect pronouns answer the questions "to/for whom?" or "to/for what?" and often come before the direct pronoun or the verb.

The direct pronouns in Spanish are "lo" (masculine singular) and "la" (feminine singular). For example, "María ama a Pedro" means "María loves Pedro," and "María lo ama" means "María loves him." The indirect masculine and feminine pronoun in Spanish is "le," which can mean "to/for him/her/you formal." For instance, "Yo doy el regalo a mi hermana" means "I give the present to my sister," and "Yo le doy el regalo" means "I give her the gift" or "I give it to her." Leísmo is a linguistic feature of Spanish in which the pronoun "le" is used instead of "lo" or "la" to refer to a masculine or feminine direct object, respectively. This way of speaking is common in some regions of Spain, but it may be considered incorrect in other places, such as Southern Spain and Latin America. For example, instead of saying "lo vi" (meaning "I saw him" or "I saw something masculine"), a speaker who uses leísmo might say "le vi." To illustrate this point, consider the following examples: María vio a Pedro (María saw Pedro). María lo vio (Southern Spain and Latin America). María le vio (Some parts of Spain). Pedro vio a María (Pedro saw María). Pedro la vio (Southern Spain and Latin America). Pedro le vio (Some parts of Spain).


By Pedro Muñoz

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