Using le and les = [to] it,him, her, them (indirect object pronouns)

Le and les are pronouns: they replace a noun (person, animal or thing) used as the indirect object in the sentence (object introduced by the preposition a). 

Have a look at these examples:

¿Ella envía un regalo a Miguel? Sí, ella le envía un regalo.
Is she sending a present to Miguel? Yes, she is sending him a present.

¿Quién prepara la fiesta a Sofía? Nosotros le preparamos la fiesta.
Who is preparing the party for Sofía? We are preparing the party for her.

¿Luna escribe a sus amigas? Sí, les escribe.
Does Luna write to her friends? Yes, she writes to them.

You also use le or les to replace the formal forms usted and ustedes:

Señora Valls, le doy su carta.
Mrs. Valls, I am giving you your letter.

Señor y Señora Aldama, hoy les pago la renta.
Mr. and Mrs. Aldama, today I'm paying you the rent.

 

Note that the indirect object pronoun agrees in number with the noun it is replacing:

  Masculine / Feminine
Singular le 
to it / him / her / you
Plural les 
to them / you

The indirect object pronoun is placed in front of the conjugated verb.


ATTENTION:

In Spanish, it's common to use both the indirect object pronoun and the indirect object noun it's replacing in the same sentence, for emphasis:

Ella le envió un regalo a Miguel.
She sent a present to Miguel.

Nosotros les preparamos la cena a nuestros invitados.
We are cooking dinner for our guests.

Señor Lopez le entrego el paquete.
Mr. Lopez I am delivering the package to you.

Hoy les pago la renta a ustedes.
Today I'm paying you the rent.

Here are some other examples where "le/les" refer to things:

Añadí sal a la comida. Le añadí sal.
I added salt to the food. I added salt to it.

Puse alcohol a las bebidas. Les puse alcohol.
I put some alcohol in the drinks. I put some alcohol in them.

See also Using lo, la, los, las = him, her, it, them (direct object pronouns)

Learn more about these related Spanish grammar topics

Examples and resources

¿Luna escribe a sus amigas? Sí, les escribe.
Does Luna write to her friends? Yes, she writes to them.


Yo le doy el periódico al portero ahora.
I am giving the newspaper to the doorman now.


Puse alcohol a las bebidas. Les puse alcohol.
I put some alcohol in the drinks. I put some alcohol in them.


Nosotros les preparamos la cena a nuestros invitados.
We are cooking dinner for our guests.


Señor y Señora Aldama, hoy les pago la renta.
Mr. and Mrs. Aldama, today I'm paying you the rent.


Añadí sal a la comida. Le añadí sal.
I added salt to the food. I added salt to it.


¿Quién prepara la fiesta a Sofía? Nosotros le preparamos la fiesta.
Who is preparing the party for Sofía? We are preparing the party for her.


¿Ella envía un regalo a Miguel? Sí, ella le envía un regalo.
Is she sending a present to Miguel? Yes, she is sending him a present.


Yo les doy las llaves a sus amigos.
I am giving the keys to his friends.


Señor Lopez le entrego el paquete.
Mr. Lopez I am delivering the package to you.


Señora Valls, le doy su carta.
Mrs. Valls, I am giving you your letter.


Q&A

Carole

Kwiziq community member

12 October 2018

1 reply

Inma

Kwiziq language super star

13 October 2018

13/10/18

Hola Carole,

What is your question/comment?

Inma

Ricky

Kwiziq community member

29 June 2018

1 reply

Why use 'a' instead of 'para' or 'por'?

In the examples of  "¿Quién prepara la fiesta a Sofía?" and "Nosotros les preparamos la cena a nuestros invitados."

Why use 'a' instead of 'para' (for) or 'por' (on behalf of)?

Ricky

Inma

Kwiziq language super star

29 June 2018

29/06/18

Hola Ricky

Sometimes "a" has the same function as "para" (for), which is the case in this sentence:

"¿Quién prepara la fiesta a Sofía?" You could also say ""¿Quién prepara la fiesta para Sofía?"

In the second sentence you mention, "Nosotros les preparamos la cena nuestros invitados.", the indirect object "nuestros invitados" is referred to twice: with "les" (to them) and with "a" (to our guests). Sometimes we admite the double indirect object in a sentence. Here are other similar sentences:

"Le he regalado una flor a Carmen" (I bought a flower for Carmen.)

"Les compré a los niños unos abrigos nuevos." (I bought the children some new coats.)

I hope this clarifies your doubt.

Inma

Ricky

Kwiziq community member

29 June 2018

1 reply

Why use 'a' instead of 'para' or 'por"?

In the examples of  "¿Quién prepara la fiesta a Sofía?" and "Nosotros les preparamos la cena a nuestros invitados."

Why use 'a' instead of 'para' (for) or 'por' (on behalf of)?

Ricky

Silvia

Kwiziq language super star

12 July 2018

12/07/18

Hola Ricky! First of all sorry for our late reply. We need to use the preposition "a" because we have previously used "les" as an indirect object pronoun and this preposition "a" introduces an indirect object refering to people ("our guests") in this case. However, you can omit this pronoun and use the preposition "para" instead too, for example, you could say "nosotros preparamos la cena PARA ellos". Both options are valid with a slightly change of meaning, like in English. The first sentence "nosotros les preparamos la cena A nuestros invitados" means "we prepare dinner TO our guests" and the second one "nosotros preparamos la cena PARA nuestros invitados" means "we prepare dinner FOR our guests". I hope this helps you to understand better! Silvia.

Ricky

Kwiziq community member

26 June 2018

1 reply

In the example, ¿Ella envía un regalo a Miguel? Sí, ella le envía un regalo, why is there an accent over envia? Ricky

Silvia

Kwiziq language super star

26 June 2018

26/06/18

¡Hola Daniel! The reason why "envía" has an accent on the "i" is because phonetically it is an hiatus and the accent breaks the diphthong making a three syllable word "en-ví-a". We do not have currently any formal lessons about the Spanish punctuation rules but we would like to create some in the future. Silvia

Daniel

Kwiziq community member

13 March 2018

1 reply

Inanimate Objects#

Why does it say "You never use le and les to replace inanimate objects." When other sources say that spanish does not distinguish between inanimacy.

Inma

Kwiziq language super star

14 March 2018

14/03/18

Hello Daniel

We will remove this bit of information from the lesson because, although, more commonly used to refer to people or animals, "le/les" can also refer to inanimate objects, for example "Le añadí sal a la comida" (I added salt to the food), acting also as an indirect object. 

Thanks for reporting this and sorry about the confussion.

Inma

Daniel

Kwiziq community member

13 March 2018

1 reply

Inanimate Objects.

Silvia

Kwiziq language super star

30 April 2018

30/04/18

¡Hola Daniel! Could you please explain a bit more your question? Gracias, Silvia.

Susan

Kwiziq community member

23 February 2018

1 reply

When do I use le , les and when do I use la, lo. Having big problems with this.

Inma

Kwiziq language super star

24 February 2018

24/02/18

Hola Susan

Lo, la, los and las are direct object pronouns, i.e pronouns that replace a person/people or a thing/things and they receive the action from the verb directly. Generally you spot them by asking the verb the question What? or Who?

See the following examples:

"Roberto compró pan" --> "Roberto lo compró" (What did Roberto buy? -bread [direct obj]

"Roberto llamó a Claudia" -->"Roberto la llamó" (Who did Roberto call?) -Claudia [direct obj]

lo and la are replacing pan and Claudia and they are both direct object pronouns.

Le and les are indirect object pronouns, i.e pronouns that replace a person/people (not things) and they receive the action from the verb indirectly. Generally you spot them by asking the verb "to whom"? or "for whom"?

See the following examples:

"Roberto compró flores para Claudia" --> Roberto le compró flores (For whom did Roberto buy flowers? -for Claudia, for her. [indirect obj]

"Roberto dio dinero a sus hijos" --> "Roberto les dio dinero" (To whom did Roberto give money? -to his children, to them. [indirect obj]

I hope this clarified your doubts. 

Gracias y saludos

Inma

Jamie

Kwiziq community member

25 January 2018

2 replies

Juan ________ prepara el desayuno todos los días."

Jamie

Kwiziq community member

25 January 2018

25/01/18

When I answered this, I was going off the first green box that says le and les are not used for inanimate objects. But isn't this question asking for the word for "them"? Which are animate objects?

Inma

Kwiziq language super star

25 January 2018

25/01/18

Hola Jamie This question is asking for the word for "them", which, like you said, it refers to animate objects (people), therefore it needs "les". In the lesson it says that you cannot use le-les for inanimate objects. I hope this clarified your doubt. Inma

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