Personal pronouns in Spanish are words that stand in for people or things participating in the action of the sentence. Personal pronouns in Spanish are particularly important because they express grammatical number (singular or plural), gender (masculine or feminine), and person (first, second, or third).
1. Which are the personal pronouns in Spanish?
|We (masculine / mixed gender)
|They (masculine / mixed gender)
2. Gender is important in Spanish pronouns
Notice how there are two words for WE and THEY. WE may be masculine (NOSOTROS) and feminine (NOSOTRAS). The same applies to THEY: ELLOS, masculine; ELLAS, feminine.
Both people and objects are either masculine or femenine in Spanish. Hence, there’s rarely a need for the pronoun IT…
In most Spanish courses, you will be taught that there is no word for the pronoun IT, but there is: it’s ELLO, a neutral pronoun that will you find in literary works and, perhaps, very formal written documents, but it’s rarely used in conversation.
3. Personal pronouns in Spanish under a magnifying glass
Let’s go over each personal pronoun in depth…
Unlike English, this pronoun should be capitalized only when it is at the beginning of a sentence.
This is the informal version of YOU and you might have noticed that it has an accent mark on letter U. This mark is not optional, you have to use it because the word without it has a totally different meaning: it expresses possession (your).
Él & Ella
To say “he” in Spanish, say él. As with tú, the accent mark on letter E is not optional: without the accent, this word means “the” not “he”.
Nosotros & Nosotras
Usually, in Spanish you would use the word NOSOTROS to say WE. When a female is referring to herself and other women, she says NOSOTRAS.
Ustedes, vosotros & vosotras
USTEDES is the plural form of you. In English, the same word is used to refer to the second person in both singular and plural. So, Ustedes is more like you guys or you all.
In Spain, however, people say VOSOTROS or VOSOTRAS instead of USTEDES, but the meaning is the same.
Ellos & Ellas
The same gender rules you learned for nosotros/nosotras apply in this case, i.e. a group consisting entirely of women should be referred to as ellas.
4. Importance and conjugations of personal pronouns
Why is it important to learn pronombres personales (personal pronouns)?
Mainly because they are part of your foundation to start making sentences:
There’s a subject, you add a verb, and voilá, you have a sentence!
Remember that verbs change in Spanish depending on the subject: conjugation varies based on the person.
Por ejemplo (for example), the verb entender (to understand):
In English, you would say “understand” in every case, except for he or she, where you would add an S at the end:
- I understand, You understand, s/he understandS, we understand, they understand.
As you may see, the conjugation changed only for HE and SHE, so it would be impossible to tell who you are talking about just by looking at the verb. Therefore, the pronoun can’t be dropped.
In Spanish, however:
- Yo entiendo
- Tú entiendes
- Él/Ella entiende
- Nostros/Nosotras entendemos
- Ustedes entienden
- Ellos/Ellas entienden
Since verb conjugations make it clear who the subject IS, personal pronouns are often unnecessary and frequently omitted in Spanish.
5. Learn more Spanish with FREE Spanish Training
¡Muy bien! Now you know los pronombres personales and you may use them to start making sentences right away!
Don’t forget that we have a whole series of Spanish beginner videos, so feel free to check them all out on our channel!
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