Pronoun Placement

An “object of a preposition” pronoun is by definition placed after a preposition, but the other two types of object pronouns and the reflexive pronouns all go in the same place. Because it is common to use more than one of these pronouns at a time, you must know what order to follow:

  • A Reflexive pronoun is in front of an Indirect object pronoun, and a Direct object is the last pronoun.

Use the memory device RID (Reflexive, Indirect, Direct) to remember the order of object pronouns in a sentence. You may have a reflexive pronoun and a direct object or an indirect object and a direct object, but rarely will all three be used together.

Note: When two object pronouns begin with the letter l, the first object pronoun is changed to se. This is not a reflexive pronoun although it looks like it.

Every sentence must have at least one verb. If there is only one conjugated verb in the sentence, the RID pronouns must be placed in front of the conjugated verb (unless it is a command). In many cases there will be a conjugated verb used with an infinitive or present participle. The good news is that you can consistently place the RID pronouns in front of the conjugated verb no matter how many other verb forms are in the sentence.

  • La señora Gómez enseña las lecciones. (Mrs. Gomez teaches the lessons.)
  • La señora Gómez las enseña. (Mrs. Gomez teaches them.)
  • La señora Gómez se las enseña a los estudiantes. (Mrs. Gomez teaches them to the students.)
  • Victor no va a traer los regalos a la fiesta. (Victor isn't going to bring the gifts to the party.)
  • Victor no los va a traer a la fiesta. (Victor isn't going to bring them to the party.)
  • Victor no se los va a traer a la fiesta a los recién casados. (Victor isn't going to bring them for the newlyweds to the party.)
  • Orlando lleva a los novios. (Octavio takes the fiances.)
  • Orlando los lleva. (Octavio takes them.)

When the conjugated verb is followed by an infinitive, the RID pronouns may still be placed in front of the conjugated verb or they may be attached to the infinitive. They may not, however, be split up. If there is more than one RID pronoun, the pronouns stay together wherever you choose to place them.

  • Daniela la quiere llamar. (Daniela wants to call her.)
  • Daniela quiere llamarla. (Daniela wants to call her.)
  • Yoruba lo necesita mejorar. (Yoruba needs to improve it.)
  • Yoruba necesita mejorarlo. (Yoruba needs to improve it.)

RID pronouns may be attached to the present participle or placed in front of the conjugated verb. When a sentence is in the present progressive tense, there will be a conjugated form of estar and the present participle form of the verb. RID pronouns may be placed in front of the conjugated form of estar or attached to the end of the verb in the present participle form (ending in ‐iendo or ‐ando). This will mess up the natural stress, so you must add an accent mark to the vowel preceding ‐ndo when you attach any RID pronouns. If you choose to place the object pronouns in front of the conjugated form of estar, you can avoid using a written accent mark.

  • Juan la está llamando. (Juan is calling her.)
  • Juan está llamándola. (Juan is calling her.)

Other verbs that may be followed by the present participle include ir, quedar, correr, andar, seguir, continuar, and other verbs of motion.

Because RID pronouns may be attached to the present participle form of the verb, many mistakenly do the same with a past participle. RID pronouns are never attached to a past participle; they go in front of the conjugated form of haber, which will precede the past participle to create the perfect tenses:

  • Guada lo ha practicado toda la noche.
  • Guada has practiced it all night.

RID pronouns must be attached to affirmative commands. The addition of even one RID pronoun to the end of a command messes up the natural stress, so you must add an accent mark to what would be the next‐to‐last syllable before adding any pronoun to the end:

  • Báña te. (Take a bath.)
  • Levánten se. (Get up [you guys].)

Although it is necessary to attach RID pronouns to the end of an affirmative command, the opposite is true if the command is negative. You must place any RID pronouns in front of a negative command:

  • No me lo digas. (Don't tell me that.)
  • Nunca me lo digas. (Never tell me that.)