What are they?

Yo yo yo yo yo!

These are the words that replace people's names when combined with a verb - saying what they do (or did, will do, don't do, would do, will have done, etc). 

Spanish has 6 personal pronouns, just like English:

  • the first, second and third persons singular
  • the first, second and third persons plural

​Have a look at the table below - the singular ones are yo, and él/ella/usted, and the plural ones are nosotros/nosotras, vosotros/vosotras and ellos/ellas/ustedes.

Depending on who you are talking about you use a different pronoun, followed by a (conjugated) verb. For instance, in English, when talking about me, I will use I, if it's the second person singular, you, for the third person singular, she/he/it, and for the plural forms, we, you and they.

Chart of the Personal Subject Pronouns


Chart of the Personal Subject Pronouns

This chart is part of a larger document called The Spanish Verb System, which is available for download from the study resources pages of your student login account. If you're not studying, or need it now, here's a link to the PDF: The Spanish Verb System

Sounds complicated!

The Spanish personal subject pronouns are a bit more complex than the English ones, as the Spanish language takes gender into account a bit more, as we well know. And we mean grammatical gender responding to human gender! Gender is chosen when using nosotros (we male, or a mix of male and female) and nosotras (we all female). The same occurs with vosotros/vosotras.

Another thing to get your head around is that of register, or formality of address. In Spain and vosotros/as (informal) are paired, with usted reserved for formal. Spanish in Hispanic America does not use the vosotros form, instead using ustedes for both formal and informal situations.

Perhaps the main difficulty for English speakers is that in Spanish, each person (1st, 2nd, 3rd singular; 1st, 2nd, 3rd plural) of the conjugated verb has a different ending. Because of this, the use of the personal pronoun is not compulsory - OMG, who ever heard of this!

Here's an example in English and Spanish:

  • You work everyday. Since the English word work can be used by almost all of the persons (I, you, we, you-all, they), you definitely have to use the pronoun (you) in this phrase, otherwise we wouldn't know who is the one working.
  • (Tú) trabajas cada día. Trabajas only can be talking about you (2nd person singular) due to its recognisable -as ending, therefore the sentence is perfectly understandable as Trabajas cada día.

What should I do …?

Try and get to know these pronouns really well, as they do form the foundation of the verb conjugation system, which forms a great part of our Spanish language learning. The personal subject pronouns are studied in beginner courses such as Elementary 1 or Spanish for Travel - and for some, they are a bit of a spin. Woa! Why so many yous? And why do we have to define our gender?

Are you a beginner needing a bit of a hand with the beginning of your verb journey? Here are a couple of suggestions:

Verbs a GoGo 1 (3-hour workshop), coming up in June - good for Elementary 1 (if you're curious) right through to Upper Elementary 3.

Boca a Boca 1 (3-hour workshop), also in June - good for Elementary 1 or any beginner student wanting to confidence-up on the basics, with lots of talking.

Check out the Verb Wheel for Spanish Irregular Verbs, which we sell for $9.99. Good for when you start to feel the need to organise your irregular verbs.

Free download to practise your Personal Subject Pronouns!


The PSP Dice for fun and knowledge! (Personal Subject Pronouns Dice)

Click to download an A4 PDFHere's a good one - a Personal Subject Pronouns Dice for you to create and use to practise verb conjugations. This dice is used in classes where a new verb tense is learnt (present tense regular -AR, -ER, -IR; estar + gerundio; pretérito indefinido regulars; pretérito indefinido irregulars, subjunctive and so on). It's not only useful for beginners!

Free PDF download!

Click on the completed dice at right to receive your PDF.

 


Not sure which course is right for your Spanish level? Test your Spanish level now!

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By Ana Ruiz & Toni Edwards
May 23, 2014


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