Pronombres de objetos indirectos y verbos como “gustar”

Learning Objectives

  • Recognize indirect object pronouns
  • Construct sentences with verbs like “gustar”

Indirect objects and indirect object pronouns

You recall from the last unit that the thing that is directly affected by the action of a verb is the verb’s direct object. For example the souvenir (recuerdo) in the sentence “Compré un recuerdo en Cuernavaca” (I bought a souvenir in Cuernavaca.) is the direct object of the verb “compré” (I bought). And if you don’t want to repeat a direct object noun ad nauseam, you can swap in a direct object pronoun, as in the sentence “Lo compré en Cuernavaca” (I bought it in Cuernavaca).

But what if I bought the souvenir for someone else? The person for whom I bought the gift is not the direct object (I didn’t buy a person!), but is still indirectly affected by the act of purchasing the souvenir. The person or thing to or for whom an action is done is the indirect object of the verb. Indirect objects are used frequently with verbs of giving or transferring (a thing to or for someone), and with verbs of communicating (a message for someone). Here’s the list of indirect object pronouns:

person pronoun
1a sing. me
2a sing. te
3a sing. le
1a plur. nos
2a plur. (Spain only) os
3a plur. les
  • Play AudioLe compré un recuerdo a mi mamá. (I bought a souvenir for my mom.)
    Note: “un recuerdo” is the direct object, and “le” / “mi mamá” is the indirect object.
  • Play AudioTe dije la fecha y la hora de mi vuelo. (I told you the date and time of my flight.)
    Note: “la fecha y la hora de mi vuelo” is the direct object, and “te” is the indirect object.
  • Play AudioEl recepcionista les dijo la contraseña del wifi a los turistas. (The receptionist told the wifi password to the tourists.)
    Note: “la contraseña del wifi” is the direct object, and “les” / “los turistas” is the indirect object.
  • Play AudioEl conserje va a pedirle un taxi a la señora. (The concierge will call a taxi for the lady.)
    Note: “un taxi” is the direct object, and “le” / “la señora” is the indirect object.

Indirect object pronoun placement

Indirect object pronouns follow the same placement rules as the reflexive pronouns and the direct object pronouns that you have learned so far: the basic position is right in front of the conjugated verb. But the indirect object pronoun can be attached to the end of an infinitive or a gerund.

Indirect object pronoun redundancy

You may have noticed in the examples above that the indirect object pronoun is used in the sentence even when the indirect object noun is present (always as part of a prepositional phrase, since the verb is being done “for” or “to” someone). The pronoun is required in Spanish whereas the prepositional phrase is there for clarification.

“Gustar” and similar verbs

Did you recognize the indirect object pronouns? You learned them with the verb “gustar” back in Spanish 1. Remember that “Me gusta” does not mean “I like it”, but rather “It pleases me” or “It gives me pleasure”: “me” is the indirect object of the sentence and the pleasure is the unstated direct object, what is being given. There are actually quite a few verbs in Spanish like “gustar”, which use indirect object pronouns to express the person who is being affected by some kind of emotional, physical or situational state. Here are the six most important ones that you should know how to use:

  • Doler (to be painful to someone, to hurt)
    Play AudioMe duelen los oídos durante los vuelos. (My ears hurt (me) during flights.)
    Note: “Los oídos” are the subject of the verb; “me” is the indirect object.
  • Encantar (to be enchanting to someone, to love/adore)
    Play AudioLes encanta el tren a los turistas. (The tourists love the train / the train is enchanting to the tourists.)
    Note: “El tren” is the subject of the verb; “les”/”los turistas” are the indirect objects.
  • Faltar (to be lacking or missing from someone, to need, to have left)
    Play AudioNos falta una hora de viaje antes de llegar. (We have another hour of travel before arriving.)
    Note: “Una hora” is the subject of the verb; “nos” is the indirect object.
  • Gustar (to be pleasing to someone, to like)
    Play Audio¿Te gusta viajar? (Do you like to travel? / Is travelling pleasing to you?)
    Note: “Viajar” is the subject of the verb; “te” is the indirect object.
  • Importar (to be important to someone, to care about)
    Play AudioA mi hermana le importa el turismo sostenible. (Sustainable tourism is important to my sister / My sister cares about sustainable tourism.)
    Note: “El turismo sostenible” is the subject of the verb; “mi hermana”/”le” is the indirect object.
  • Molestar (to be irritating to someone, to bother)
    Play AudioLas personas impacientes y maleducadas me molestan mucho en el aeropuerto. (Impatient and rude people bother me a lot in the airport / are irritating to me.)
    Note: “Las personas” are the subjects of the verb; “me” is the indirect object.

If you want to expand your vocabulary, here are some more verbs that use indirect objects in the same way: aburrir (to be/seem boring to someone), agradar (to be pleasing to someone), bastar (to be enough for someone), disgustar (to be offensive/upsetting to someone), enojar (to make someone angry), fascinar (to fascinate someone), hacer falta (to be lacking to someone), interesar (to be interesting to someone), parecer (to seem to someone), picar (to itch, make someone feel itchy), placer (to please or satisfy someone), preocupar (to worry someone), quedar (to remain to someone).