The Grammar Page

Grammar Basics



Spanish 101A

Spanish 101B

FAQs & About drlemonĀ©®

Email me!

Creative Commons License by Deborah R. Lemon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at

We have looked at both Direct and Indirect Object Pronouns and learned that we place them either directly before a conjugated verb or attach them to an infinitive, a present participle or a command. But what happens when we have both direct and indirect object pronouns in one sentence? Who goes where?

Let's take a look at an example:

Yo te doy el dinero a ti.

First, we'll identify the different components of this sentence:



El dinero

Te, a Ti (informal you)

subject pronoun


our conjugated verb

"I'm giving"

direct object

it's what I'm giving. "The money" is receiving the direct action of the verb.

Indirect object Pronoun, Indirect Object

"YOU" are receiving the money! (indirect benefit of my action/verb)

Now, we replace the Direct Object el dinero with the pronoun lo because dinero is masculine and singular. And we already have the Indirect Object Pronoun te.

Both object pronouns must come before the active/conjugated verb. But which comes first?

The Indirect object pronoun will ALWAYS come first.

An easy way to remember this is to think of I.D. (Indirect Object, Direct Object). So, our entire sentence above can be converted into this three-word sentence using both an Indirect and a Direct object pronoun:

  • Te lo doy.

Let's look at another example:

El policía nos lleva las direcciones a nosotros.

First, we'll identify the different components of the sentence:

El policía lleva las direcciones nos, a nosostros
The subject the verb the direct object. We use the pronoun las.

the indirect object.

The pronoun nos is already in the sentence

If we follow the ID rule, our final sentence is:

El policía nos las lleva.


So far pretty easy!

But (of course!) we have a small exception. Let's look at this sentence:

Juan le escribe una carta a María.

When we examine the elements, we have:



una carta

le, a María

Subject verb

Direct object

We replace the DO with la since una carta is singular and feminine

Indirect object

The singular 3rd pronoun, le, is already there

So our sentence is:

*Juan le la escribe.

Right? I guess you know from the red color & the asterisk that this isn't what happens.

Unfortunately, we cannot leave this sentence as it is. We cannot have two "L" object pronouns together. So our original sentence,

"*Juan le la escribe" must change to----> "Juan se la escribe."

Here is one way to remember the exception:

  • 1) Only Eric Clapton sings Layla (le la) or Laylas (le las).
  • 2) Only criminals Lay low (le lo).
  • 3) Spanish speakers "Say" la/las and "Say" lo/los (se la, se las, se lo, se los)

Let's try another example:

Yo le pido los discos a mi hermano --> Yo se los pido.

-------------------------------------------------le-->se los (IO DO)

We have the option of retaining or removing the Indirect Object "tag" :

      • Yo se los pido a mi hermano.
      • Yo se los pido.