Repetition of indirect object pronouns with verbs (general)

When a verb in Spanish has an indirect object pronoun (the equivalent of to him, to her, to them, etc) introduced by the preposition "a", sometimes that indirect object is repeated by also using the "short" pronouns in the same sentence (me, te, le, nos, os, les).

Let's see how it works:

Indirect object = a + pronoun

In sentences where the indirect object is represented by "a + pronoun", and it is at the beginning of the sentence, for example  "a mí, a tí, a ella", it is necessary to repeat the indirect object by using the "short" pronoun (me, te, le, nos, os, les) in the same sentence.

Have a look at the following examples:

A mí me diste muy poco dinero pero a ella le diste mucho.
You gave me very little money but you gave her a lot.

¿A tí te regalaron tus padres una moto el año pasado?
Did your parents buy you a bike last year?

It would be incorrect to use the pronoun with "a" on its own without the second short pronoun:

  • A mí diste muy poco dinero pero a ella diste mucho.
  • ¿A tí regalaron tus padres una moto el año pasado?

However, you can omit the pronoun with "a" and use only the short pronoun and the sentence remains grammatically correct:

Me diste muy poco dinero pero le diste mucho.
You gave me very little money but you gave her a lot.

¿Te regalaron tus padres una moto el año pasado?
Did your parents buy you a bike last year?

Note that although this is correct, it is unclear in the first example who you are referring to with "le", by omitting "a ella" (her) and "a tí" (you) there is no emphasis on "to whom" in either sentence. 

Using both types of pronoun in the sentence emphasises and clarifies exactly who you are referring to.

Here are more examples:

Me lo ha comprado a mí.
She bought it for me.

Me lo ha comprado.
He bought it for me.

Remember the pronouns with "a" reinforce, emphasise and clarify but they are not grammatically essential, whilst pronouns me, te, le, nos, os, les cannot be omitted.

  • A mí me lo ha comprado. (correct)
  • Me lo ha comprado a mí. (correct)
  • A mí lo ha comprado.  (incorrect)
  • Lo ha comprado a mí(incorrect)

Named person 

In the cases where the person is named, e.g "a María..." the rule is slightly different. If the indirect object with "a + [name of person]is placed:

  • in front of the verb, then the other pronoun is needed, for example "A María le devolví los libros ayer.
  • after the verb, then the repetition is not compulsary, for example "(Le) devolví los libros a María.

More examples:

A Cristina le pusieron una inyección en la pierna.

(Le) pusieron una inyección en la pierna a Cristina.

They gave Cristina an injection in the leg.

A Pedro y a Pablo les cantaron una canción por su despedida.

(Les) cantaron una canción a Pedro y Pablo por su despedida.

They sang a goodbye song for Pedro and Pablo.

Unnamed but known person

When we don't name the person but say who we are talking about the same rule as above applies:

A mis padres les ofrecieron un descuento del 50 por ciento.

(Les) ofrecieron un descuento del 50 por ciento a mis padres.

They offered my parents a 50 percent discount.
 

A su vecino le robaron la moto el otro día.

(Le) robaron la moto el otro día a su vecino.

They stole his neighbour's bike the other day.

 
 

One common mistake is forgetting the "a". For example:

Ella le dieron una medalla. → A ella le dieron una medala.

 
See also:
 

Learn more about these related Spanish grammar topics

Examples and resources

(Le) robaron la moto el otro día a su vecino.


(Le) pusieron una inyección en la pierna a Cristina.


¿Te regalaron tus padres una moto el año pasado?
Did your parents buy you a bike last year?


A su vecino le robaron la moto el otro día.


A Cristina le pusieron una inyección en la pierna.


Me diste muy poco dinero pero le diste mucho.
You gave me very little money but you gave her a lot.


(Les) ofrecieron un descuento del 50 por ciento a mis padres.


(Les) cantaron una canción a Pedro y Pablo por su despedida.


¿A tí te regalaron tus padres una moto el año pasado?
Did your parents buy you a bike last year?


A mis padres les ofrecieron un descuento del 50 por ciento.


Me lo ha comprado a mí.
She bought it for me.


A mí me diste muy poco dinero pero a ella le diste mucho.
You gave me very little money but you gave her a lot.


A Pedro y a Pablo les cantaron una canción por su despedida.


Me lo ha comprado.
He bought it for me.


Q&A

papi

Kwiziq community member

12 January 2019

2 replies

translation - meaning of example

A su vecino le robaron la moto el otro día.

(Le) robaron la moto el otro día a su vecino.

They stole his neighbour's bike the other day.

My brain wants to translate this as: 

The other day they stole the bike for his neighbor.   (su=his, her, your, its, their)

My point being that I think of the indirect object pronoun (le) as to/for him/her your/it

The word "for" being the key point that confuses me in this case, I would guess.  

I would think the sentence would use "de" and be "Robaron el moto el otro día de su vecino." and not have the indirect object pronoun.

Help please!

Inma

Kwiziq language super star

12 January 2019

12/01/19

Hola Papi,

In Spanish we say "robar algo a alguien" (literally to steal something TO someone). That "le" is referring to whoever is being robbed (the victim). In Spanish the person being robbed would be an indirect object in the sentence. It is a bit tricky to see because verbs to rob or to steal don't work the same way in English. We do use the indirect object pronouns (me, te, le, nos, os, les) to refer to  the person who is being robbed. These are some more simpler sentences:

El ladrón me robó la bicicleta. ( literally "The thief stole me the bike")

El ladrón le robó a ella el bolso. (literally "The thief stole her the handbag.)

(in this second sentence "le" and "a ella" are both referring to "to her")

I hope this clarifies your doubt.

Un saludo

Inma

papi

Kwiziq community member

13 January 2019

13/01/19

OK. Thank you. 

So, I get it, but for a little more understanding, then would/could I say:

Para mí a su vecino le robaron la moto el otro día.

to mean:  They stole his neighbors bike the other day for me.

Would I need a comma after para mí?  

If I wanted to add the subject pronoun of the verb (Ellos robaron) where would it go?

Would it be?:    Para mí ellos a su vecino le robaron la moto el otro día.

One more thing.  

Can the direct object pronoun still be used to replace the bike? If so, what does that look like with the use of le la.  Does it still turn to se la?

Para mí ellos a su vecino se la robaron.     

and /or  

Ellos se la robaron a su vecino para mí.

Just trying to wrap it around my head a little better. Thank you for your patience!

Let me take a look at that...