The Ultimate Guide to Using Double Object Pronouns in Spanish (2023)

The Ultimate Guide to Using Double Object Pronouns in Spanish (1)

February 1, 2021 by Olga Put Spanish Grammar, Spanish Vocabulary 0 comments

Are double object pronouns in Spanish tripping you up?

Some of the challenges that learners face include the confusing similarity of these tiny words, the seemingly unpredictable placement, and when to change them to se.

Ultimately, the whole topic can feel overwhelming and impossible to understand if it’s not been well-explained.

Well, I’m here to help!

I promise we’ll take small steps that will prepare you for using double object pronouns in Spanish like a native speaker.

I’ll show you the forms, tell you where to put them in a sentence, and explain some problematic situations. You’ll also have an opportunity to check your new skills in a couple of exercises.



What are double object pronouns and what is the formula for using them?

The Ultimate Guide to Using Double Object Pronouns in Spanish (2)

Double object pronouns sound more mysterious than they really are. In fact, you’ve been using them your whole life in English without even realizing it. Take a look at this sentence:

My teacher gave the textbook to Mike.

Now, let’s modify it a bit:

My teacher gave it to him.

And now we have an English sentence with double object pronouns!

  • “It” – Direct Object Pronoun (D.O.P.)
  • “To him” – Indirect Object Pronoun. (I.O.P.)

So, using double object pronouns in a sentence means substituting nouns in both objects (textbook, Mike) with pronouns (it, me). If you need a quick refresher on Spanish pronouns, read our blog post on this topic.

Now, the only thing that we are left with is to learn how to use double object pronouns in Spanish.

The hardest thing for you will be to get used to a completely different order. In Spanish, the double pronouns will go before the verb, and the first one you’ll use is the indirect object pronouns followed by the direct object pronoun. This is the formula:

Subject + I.O.P. + D.O.P. + verb + the rest of the sentence

The sample sentence I gave you at the beginning will look like this in Spanish:

Mi maestro se la dio.

Like if you were saying: ”My teacher to him it gave”. Feels weird, doesn’t it? That’s why the trick in double pronouns in Spanish are not the pronouns themselves, but getting the formula automatic in your mind.

Let’s start with a quick refresher on how to use direct object pronouns and indirect object pronouns separately to dive into using double object pronouns without pain.

Direct Object Pronouns

First, what is a direct object? It is a person or a thing that receives the action of the verb in a sentence. Sounds complicated but you can find it easily by repeating the verb and answering “what?” or “who?”

For example:

John ate the apple.

John ate what?

The apple.

Direct Object: the apple

John hugged Mary.

John hugged who?


Direct Object: Mary

By saying “John ate it” and “John hugged her” you’re using direct object pronouns. It’s the same in Spanish.

John comió la manzana.

John la comió.

John abrazó a María.

John la abrazó.

What Are the Seven Spanish Direct Object Pronouns?

Let me give you a quick cheat sheet with the Spanish direct object pronouns. There are only seven of them (me, te, lo, la, os, las, los) and you need to remember that their form depends on the number and gender of the noun they substitute:

Singular Direct Object Pronouns:

Subject PronounsDirect Object Pronouns
yo (I)me (me)
(you)te (you)
él (he) ella (she) usted (you, fml.)lo (him, it, masc.) la (her, it, fem.) lo (formal you, masc.) la (formal you, fem.)

Plural Direct Object Pronouns:

Subject PronounsDirect Object Pronouns
nosotros, nosotras (we)nos (us)
ustedes (you)los (you, masc.)las (you, fem.)
ellos (they) ellas (they)los (them, masc.)las (them, fem.)

Nos ves?
Can you see us?

Ana los entiende.
Ana understands you.

Placement of the Spanish Direct Object Pronouns

When used alone in a sentence, the direct object pronouns will usually come before the verb:

María lo compró.
María bought it.

Me viste?
Did you see me?

However, when used with an infinitive, gerund, or command, the direct object pronoun will go after the verb.

With an infinitive:

Voy a comprarlo.
I’m going to buy it.

With a gerund:

Me cansé limpándolo.
I got tired cleaning it.

With a command:

Throw it away!

If you feel like getting to know more, read about how to Practice Direct Object Pronouns in Spanish and challenge yourself with some brainy exercises.

Indirect Object Pronouns

Indirect object pronouns are the indirect receivers of the action of the verb. You can find them in a sentence by repeating the verb and adding “to whom?” or “ from whom?”

For example:

John gave the apple to her. / John gave her the apple.

John gave it to whom?

To her.

Indirect Object Pronoun: her

Mary prepared dinner for us. / Mary prepared us dinner.

Mary prepared it for whom?

For us.

Indirect Object Pronoun: us

Let’s say it works the same way in Spanish and later, I’ll get into details.

Tomás me dio un regalo.
A quién?
A mí.

Tomás gave me a present.
To whom?
To me.

What Are the Forms of Spanish Indirect Object Pronouns?

The same as the direct object pronouns, the indirect object pronouns are also formed based on subject pronouns and change according to number and but not the gender. Let’s look at the charts:

Singular Indirect Object Pronouns:

Subject PronounsIndirect Object Pronouns
yo (I)me (me)
(you)te (you)
él (he) ella (she) usted (you, fml.)le (him, it, masc.) le (her, it, fem.) le (fml. you, masc.) le (fml. you, fem.)

Plural Indirect Object Pronouns:

Subject PronounsIndirect Object Pronouns
nosotros, nosotras (we)nos (us)
ustedes (you) les (you, masc.) les (you, fem.)
ellos (they) ellas (they)les (them, masc.) les (them, fem.)

We only have 5 indirect object pronouns, so they’re even easier to use than the direct object pronouns.

Te hice un dibujo.
I made you a drawing.

Les dije un secreto.
I told them a secret.

Placement of the Spanish Indirect Object Pronouns.

Again, you’ll put the Indirect Object Pronouns in Spanish before the verb in most situations, unless the verb is in an infinitive verb, it comes in the imperative mood, or is a gerund.

Before the verb:

Te dije que no era verdad.
I told you it wasn’t true.

With an infinitive:

Quiero decirte un secreto.
I want to tell you a secret.

With a verb in the imperative mood:

Cuéntame un cuento.
Tell me a story.

With a gerund:

¿Estará diciéndote la verdad?
Is he telling you the truth?

Read this refresher on the Indirect Spanish Pronouns if you want a bit more practice before going into the double Spanish pronouns.

How to Use Double Object Pronouns in Spanish?

Now that you remember how to use direct object pronouns and indirect object pronouns, let’s have a look at what happens when we have both of them in one sentence. Do you remember the formula I gave you at the beginning?

Subject + I.O.P. + D.O.P. – verb + the rest of the sentence

That’s the most important thing to have in mind in terms of double object pronouns in Spanish. The indirect object pronoun ALWAYS goes before the direct object pronoun when used in the same sentence.

Ella lee una historia a su hija.
Ella se la lee.

She reads a story to her daughter.
She reads it to her.

Me lo explicaron muy bien.
They explained it very well to me.

So remember, contrary to English, the double object pronouns will go before the verb, not after.

Changing Le to Se

The indirect object pronouns le and les get even simpler when combined with direct object pronouns. You’ll only use se instead of le / les when followed by lo, la, los, and las.

Le compré un perro a mi hijo.
Se lo compré.

I bought a dog for my son.
I bought it for him.


When a sentence with double object pronouns is a negative one, the negative word (no, nunca, jamás) will go before the object pronouns:

No te lo haré.
I won’t do it for you.

Jamás se lo daré.
I will never give it to him.

Using Double Object Pronouns With Infinitives, Gerunds, And Imperatives.

As you remember, the direct object pronouns and indirect object pronouns go after the infinitive, gerund, or a command, and not before. A similar thing occurs when using double object pronouns, but we need to remember to add a written accent to the final syllable of the infinitive or the second to last syllable of the gerund and imperative. Let’s have a look:

Él tiene que escribírmela.
He has to write it for me.

Cuando estaba escribiéndomela, olvidó algo importante.
When writing it to me, she forgot something important.

¡Límpiamelo ya!
Clean it for me now!

Some exercises:

Can you try to transform the following sentences using double object pronouns in Spanish?

  1. Isabela le escribe una carta a Ramón.
  2. Carlos hizo un pastel para sus amigos.
  3. Andrea va a mostrar una casa a su cliente.
  4. Me pediste un libro.
  5. Ricardo le mandó un paquete a usted.
  6. ¡Comprame un periódico!
  7. Mi mamá me explicó la regla.
  8. Toñito me va a tirar la pelota a mí.
  9. Verónica está enviando besos a Jorge.
  10. Arturo te pasa la sal a ti.

Did you get it all correct? Check the answer key here!

Keep Practicing!

That was a lot to take in one session and I know that the key in using double object pronouns in Spanish lies in practice. If you have a learning buddy, you can try similar transformations as I showed you above together. If you don’t, don’t worry. You can sign up for a free class and practice double object pronouns in Spanish with one of our friendly native teachers from Guatemala!

Ready to learn more Spanish grammar and vocabulary? Check these out!

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Answer Key

  1. Isabela se la escribe.
  2. Carlos se los hizo.
  3. Andrea va a mostrársela.
  4. Me lo pediste.
  5. Ricardo se lo mandó.
  6. ¡Cómpramelo!
  7. Mi mamá me la explicó.
  8. Toñito va a tirármela. / Toñito me la va a tirar.
  9. Verónica está enviándoselos. / Verónica se los está enviando.
  10. Arturo te la pasa.
  • Author
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Olga Put

Freelance Writer at Homeschool Spanish Academy

I'm a Spanish philologist, teacher, and freelance writer with a Master's degree in Humanities from Madrid. I speak Polish, Spanish, and English fluently, and want to get better in Portuguese and German. A lover of literature, and Mexican spicy cuisine, I've lived in Poland, Spain, and Mexico and I'm currently living and teaching in Madeira, Portugal.

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