Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Placement of Object Pronouns

Direct object pronouns, if you recall, are simply pronouns that take the place of a noun which is a direct object. The direct object in question is merely a noun (person, place, thing or idea) that can be directly manipulated by the verb modifying it. The following sentence gives us a quick review:

¿Compraste las verduras para la cena? Did you buy the vegetables for dinner?

Sí, las compré. Yes, I bought them.

Notice our direct object pronoun matches the gender and the quantity(singular/plural) of our previously-mentioned direct object(the vegetables/las verduras).

Now, let's talk about the rules of placement for these wonderful grammar parts. They actually follow two strict rules: 1)the direct object pronouns (or any pronouns for that matter) either are placed before the conjugated verb modifying the pronoun, or 2)affixed(attached) to the end of the infinitive of the verb modifying the pronoun.

Let's look at the following example:

Tengo aquí la cazuela. ¿La quieres hornear ahora?

I have the casserole right here. Do you want to bake it in the oven now?

Notice that the direct object pronoun is placed before the conjugated verb querer. Now, let's answer the question about what to do with the casserole:

No. Vamos a helarla así que podamos comerla la próxima semana.

No, we're going to freeze it so we can eat it next week.

Notice both direct object pronouns (which are referring to the same direct object i.e. the casserole) are affixed to the end of the infinitives of helar(to freeze) and comer(to eat). Spanish-speakers use both forms relatively equally, so be prepared to hear both. Remember, as in English, direct object pronouns replace nouns that have already landed in the immediate context of the conversation. What I mean by that is the direct object is known to both the speaker and the listener. The identity of the direct object has already been established, so there should be no confusion when the pronoun is interjected.

All this talk about casseroles is making me kind of hungry. Time to go find some lunch....

Sigue estudiando,

Professor Joel

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