Lesson-Direct_Object

Direct Object / Objeto Directo

 

What is a direct object?

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Direct Objects – are words that complement a transitive verb. A transitive verb is a verb that requires both asubject and one or more objects. For example, the verb “to lift” does not mean anything if it is not specified who lifted and what it was lifted (a bag, weights, a table, etc.). What it was lifted is the direct object of the verb since it receives the action of the verb.

Example:

Juan lifted the table – Juan levantó la mesa

Juan: subject

Lifted / levantó: transitive verb

The bag / la mesa: direct object (the transitive verb’s complement – what receives the action of the verb lifted / levantó)

In Spanish when the direct object is a person the preposition “a” is used before the person.

Compare:

1. Juan saw Claudia – Juan vio Claudia

Juan: subject

Saw / vio: transitive verb

Claudia / a Claudia: direct object (the transitive verb’s complement – the direct object is a person so the preposition “a” was used before the person)

2. Juan saw the dog – Juan vio el perro

Juan: subject

Saw / vio: transitive verb

The dog / el perro: direct object (the transitive verb’s complement)

 

How to find the direct object of a phrase?

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If you want to know what the direct object of a sentence is, two questions might help you: what? Or whom?

Compare:

1. Juan saw Claudia – Juan vio Claudia

Question: Juan saw whom?

Answer: a Claudia – object direct

2. Juan saw the dog – Juan vio el perro

Question: Juan saw what?

Answer: el perro – object direct

Direct Object Pronouns

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Usually the direct object can be replaced by a pronoun. Study the examples below.

Examples:

  • Do you see Claudia? Yes, I see her (“her” is the direct object pronoun used to replace the noun “Claudia”)
  • ¿(Tú) Ves a Claudia? Sí, la veo  (“la” is the direct object pronoun used to replace the noun “Claudia”).

In Spain when the direct object is a person people use as direct object pronouns le / les.

  • ¿(Tú) Ves a Claudia? Sí, le veo  (“le” is the direct object pronoun used to replace the noun “Claudia”).

In Latin America la(s) / lo(s) are used for people, animals and things

Study the chart below and click on the arrow to listen how to pronounce the word in Spanish

Person Direct Object (Spanish) Direct Object

(English)

Singular Yo (I) Me Me
Tú (you – informal) Te You
Él (He) / Ud (you –formal) Lo      (Le     – Spain) Him / It / You (formal)
Ella (She) / Ud (you –formal) La     (Le    – Spain) Her / It/  You (formal)
Plural Nosotros / Nosotras Nos Us
Ellos (They) / Uds (you –formal) Los     (Les     – Spain) Them / You (formal)
Ellas (They) / Uds (you –formal) Las    (Les     – Spain) Them / You (formal)

Those direct object pronouns are used before the verb. But when the verb is in the infinitive or in the progressive forms, the pronoun is usually attached to the verb.

Compare:

1. Did you buy the book? Yes, I bought it

¿(Tú) Compraste el libro?  Sí, lo compré (in this example “lo” is before the verb, because the verb is conjugated)

2. Are you buying the book? Yes, I’m buying it

¿(Tú) Estás comprando el libro?  Sí, estoy comprandolo (in this example the verb is in its progressive form (ending in ando), so the direct object pronoun is used attached to the verb). If you want to learn more about the progressive form of a verb, see the lesson about Present Progressive.

3. Are you going to buy the book? Yes, I’m going to buy it

¿(Tú) Vas a comprar el libro?  Sí, voy a comprarlo (in this example the verb is in its infinitive form (ending inar), so the direct object pronoun is used attached to the verb)

For negative sentences, the direct object pronoun is used between the negative word and the verb conjugated.

Example:

  • Do you see Claudia? No, I don’t see her
  • ¿(Tú) Ves a Claudia? No, no la veo (“la” is placed between the negative word “no” and the verb conjugated “veo”).

More examples:

  • Do you want coffee? Yes, I want it
  • ¿(Tú) Quieres café? Sí, lo quiero.

 

  • Do you see Rodrigo y Alfredo? Yes, I see them
  • ¿(Tú) Ves a Rodrigo y Alfredo? Sí, los veo / Sí, les veo (Spain)

 

Phrases with two verbs

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In sentences with two verbs, where one verb is conjugated and the other one is in the progressive form or in the infinitive form, the direct object pronoun can be placed before the conjugated verb or attached to the infinitive / progressive verb. Study the examples below:

Examples:

She needs to buy it

Translation:

Direct object pronoun before the conjugated verb: Ella lo necesita comprar.

Direct object pronoun attached to the infinitive verb: Ella necesita comprarlo

I’m listening to you.

Direct object pronoun before the conjugated verb:  Te  estoy escuchando.

Direct object pronoun attached to the progressive verb: Estoy escuchandote