This article will teach you how to use prepositional pronouns in Spanish. We’re talking about the Spanish versions of words like ‘me,’ ‘you,’ ‘him,’ ‘her,’ ‘it,’ ‘us,’ and ‘them,’ used in specific situations.
To properly understand what prepositional pronouns are and what situations they’re used in, it helps to know what pronouns and prepositions are!
Pronouns are words that are used to replace nouns, e.g. ‘he,’ ‘him,’ ‘himself’ in order to save ourselves from repeating a name or other noun over and over.Prepositions are the little words that we put before a noun (or pronoun) in order to describe the noun’s relationship with another part of the sentence, e.g. ‘on,’ ‘in,’ ‘after.’ A lot of the time, a preposition describes when something happens, or where something is, in relation to something else.
So, what’s a prepositional pronoun? It’s simply a pronoun that comes after a preposition! For example, ‘on it,’ ‘in them,’ ‘after her.’
The great thing about Spanish prepositional pronouns is that most of them are the same as the normal subject pronouns. It’s mainly just mí, ti, and sí that are different (as highlighted in the table below).
|él/ella, usted||him/her, you (formal)|
|ellos/ellas, ustedes||them, you (formal plural)|
It’s important to note the spellings of these words. Both mí and sí have an accent, but ti does not. This is something that people (even natives) commonly get wrong, so if you get it right, you’ll look pretty great.
*Ello is used when we want to talk about a non-specific idea or concept. If you want to talk about a specific noun, use él or ella like normal!
Let’s look at some examples of these words in context. The pronoun is in bold, and comes right after the preposition.
|Qué bonitas las flores. ¿Son para mí?||What pretty flowers. Are they for me?|
|Estoy enamorado de ti. No puedo esconderlo.||I am in love with you. I can’t hide it.|
|No tengo nada contra él. Simplemente no me gusta.||I don’t have anything against him. I just don’t like him.|
|Los ladrones corrieron tras ella, pero los policías los detuvieron.||The thieves ran after her, but the police officers caught them.|
|Sé que hay amor dentro de usted.||I know that there’s love inside you (formal).|
|Es un tema importante pero él no quiere hablar de ello.||It’s an important topic but he doesn’t want to talk about it.|
|Se viste a sí mismo.||He dresses himself.|
|El jefe cree en nosotros.||The boss believes in us.|
|Voy a mudarme lejos de vosotros.||I’m going to move far away from you (plural).|
|El accidente ocurrió por ellos.||The accident happened because of them.|
|Si tardan las chicas, saldremos sin ellas.||If the girls are late, we’re leaving without them.|
|Cuando pienso en ustedes, me alegro.||When I think of you (formal plural), I feel happy.|
|Mis hijitos son muy jóvenes pero se visten a sí mismos cada mañana.||My kids are very young but they dress themselves every morning.|
As we’ve seen in the examples above, prepositional pronouns can be vital for making our sentences make sense.
There’s also a way to use them that’s optional, but super useful, as it helps avoid confusion and ambiguity in sentences!We can have a sentence with an object pronoun (in this case, les, the people receiving the money):
|Les dimos el dinero.||We gave the money to X.|
But the problem with this is knowing who the object pronoun (les) is actually referring to. As illustrated in this article, les can refer to ‘them’ (masculine), ‘them’ (feminine), or ‘you’ (formal plural). So, who did we give the money to?!
This is where the prepositional pronoun can come in handy. If we use the preposition a with the appropriate pronoun, the whole thing becomes a lot clearer:
|Les dimos el dinero a ellos.||We gave the money to them (masculine).|
|Les dimos el dinero a ellas.||We gave the money to them (feminine).|
|Les dimos el dinero a ustedes.||We gave the money to you (formal plural).|
Once we choose one of these, we’ll know for sure where the money went!Another, similar, way to use prepositional pronouns is to add emphasis to the object.
|¿Por qué su hijo va gastando el dinero? ¡Les dimos el dinero a ustedes!||Why is your son spending the money? We gave the money to you (not to him)!|
There are some prepositions that don’t require the prepositional pronoun forms. For some reason, they’ve decided to just stick with the usual yo and tú instead of the mí and ti forms. There aren’t too many to learn:
|Entre tú y yo, ¡he comprado un anillo de compromiso para Lilia!||Between you and me, I’ve bought an engagement ring for Lilia!|
|Todos van a la fiesta excepto yo.||Everyone is going to the party except for me.|
|Todos van a la fiesta salvo tú||Everyone is going to the party except you.|
|Raquel atrae a todos los chicos menos yo. Ella no me gusta para nada.||Raquel attracts all the guys apart from me. I don’t like her at all.|
|Hasta tú puedes lograr eso.||Even you can manage this.|
|Incluso yo terminé la tarea.||Even I completed the task.|
|Yo creía que Raquel era una chica amable pero, según tú, es una persona horrible. Así que no la voy a invitar a salir.||I thought Raquel was a nice girl, but, according to you, she’s a horrible person. So I won’t ask her out.|
As we saw in the examples at the top of the article, sí can be used with reflexive verbs, to emphasize that the person is doing the action to themselves. To make this work, we combine it with the word mismo.
|Juan se lavó antes de salir.||Juan washed (himself) before going out.|
|Juan se lavó a sí mismo antes de salir.||Juan washed himself before going out.|
There is another special case, which is with the preposition con. Instead of con mí or con ti or con sí, we normally use these special words: conmigo, contigo, consigo.
|Ven conmigo a la cena.||Come with me to the dinner.|
|¿Por qué iría yo contigo a la cena?||Why would I go with you to the dinner?|
|Porque cada uno tiene que traer un acompañante consigo, y yo te elijo a ti.||Because everyone has to bring someone with them, and I choose you.|
For each of the following sentences, choose the correct prepositional pronoun:
1. Creo en _. (I believe in you.)
2. No estoy hablando de _. (I’m not talking about them.)
3. ¡No podéis ir sin _! (You can’t go without us!)
4. Dámelo a _. (Give it to me.)
5. Todos aprobaron el examen salvo _. (Everyone passed the exam except me.)
Great work with this one! Hopefully you now have a better understanding of what prepositional pronouns are in Spanish (and in English, if you’ve never been taught about them!) and can start using them with more confidence.
Annabel is a language-enthusiast from the UK. She studied Spanish and French at the University of Southampton (with an Erasmus study year in Madrid!) and recently graduated. She has interests across the Spanish-speaking world, and is a fan of language in general.
An Easy Guide to Spanish Relative Pronouns
The Spanish Imperfect Subjunctive: All You Need to Know
Spanish Nouns: How to turn Singular Spanish Nouns to Plural?
Spanish Transitive vs Intransitive Verbs: An Easy Guide
The Present Tense in Spanish
‘To Know’ in Spanish: Saber vs. Conocer
A Guide to the Spanish Indicative vs. Subjunctive
The Spanish Indicative Mood