Direct and Indirect Object Pronouns Used Together


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Here are the direct object pronouns and the indirect object pronouns side by side:

DO PronounsIO PronounsEnglish Equivalent
teteyou (familiar)
lo, lalehim, her, it, you (formal)
ososyou-all (familiar)
los, laslesthem, you-all (formal)

When you have both a direct object pronoun and an indirect object pronoun in the same sentence, the indirect object pronoun comes first.

Ellos me los dan.
They give them to me.
IO pronoun: me
DO pronoun: los

Ella te la vende.
She sells it to you.
IO pronoun: te
DO pronoun: la

Whenever both pronouns begin with the letter “l” change the first pronoun to “se.”

le lo = se lo
le la = se la
le los = se los
le las = se las
les lo = se lo
les la = se la
les los = se los
les las = se las

The reason for changing “le lo” to “se lo” is merely to avoid the tongue-twisting effect of two short consecutive words that begin with the letter “l”. To demonstrate this, first quickly say “les las” and then quickly say “se las.” See how much easier it is to say “se las?”

In negative sentences, the negative word comes directly before the first pronoun.

No se lo tengo.
I don’t have it for you.

Nunca se los compro.
I never buy them for her.

Because the pronoun se can have so many meanings, it is often helpful to clarify it by using a prepositional phrase.

Él se lo dice.
Ambiguous. He tells it to (whom?).

Él se lo dice a Juan.
He tells it to him. (to Juan)

Él se lo dice a María.
He tells it to her. (to María)

Él se lo dice a ella.
He tells it to her.

In sentences with two verbs, there are two options regarding the placement of the pronouns. Place them immediately before the conjugated verb or attach them directly to the infinitive.

She should explain it to me.
Ella me lo debe explicar.
Ella debe explicármelo.

I want to tell it to you.
Te lo quiero decir.
Quiero decírtelo.

You need to send it to them.
Se la necesitas enviar a ellos.
Necesitas enviársela a ellos.

Note that when attaching the pronouns to the infinitive, a written accent is also added to the final syllable of the infinitive. This preserves the sound of the infinitive.

When the pronouns are attached to the infinitive, make the sentence negative by placing the negative word directly before the conjugated verb.

Ella debe explicármelo.
Ella no debe explicármelo.

Quiero decírtelo.
No quiero decírtelo.

Necesitas enviársela a ellos.
No necesitas enviársela a ellos.

When the pronouns come before the conjugated verb, make the sentence negative by placing the negative word directly before the pronouns.

Ella me lo debe explicar.
Ella no me lo debe explicar.

Te lo quiero decir.
No te lo quiero decir.

Se la necesitas enviar a ellos.
No se la necesitas enviar a ellos.