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AlwaysSpanish is Retiring!

After a long awkward silence, here's something to break the ice – all over again. I can totally see why you should be upset to see no action from the Burro for over a month now, but trust me, your wait was all worth it. The news here is that your beloved Burro has just moved into a brand new home – one that's a whole lot richer, swankier, and easier to live in. I'm talking about PeppyBurro. That's the name of the new website! Isn't that cool? At least it tells you all about the Burro's pepped up temperament right off the bat, right? This post is not about Spanish-learning tricks (although I will drop in a couple out of habit, I guess) or grammar lessons. This one's all about our new home!

The Witchcraft Of Spanish Vocabulary

The very first step to conquering a language is to tame its vocabulary. And sadly, that's the part that puts off most novice learners because memorizing strange-sounding words is too darn boring! A never-ending chant of rote rehearsal and a nervous prayer can see you through an upcoming test, but the process just won't cut it if your goal is to actually use the language in the street. It's a mystery how this incredibly inefficient method has survived this long and still continues to be perpetuated by schools and educators around the world. So is there any nirvana around this assault of monotony in our miserable lives? Anything that could make learning foreign words less painful?

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: Always Spanish has retired. Please visit the new blog at for all future articles.

The Spanish Object Pronouns – Leísmo, Laísmo, And Loísmo

The Spanish language has object pronouns just like its other Romance cousins. However, to us English speakers, they often seem alien because English doesn’t stress on them as much as Spanish does. Many rookie learners doing Spanish get thoroughly confused with the multitude of rules surrounding these pronouns and this article intends to clear the air once and for all. Actually, the only confusing bit happens to be the third person forms that seem deceptively simple – La, lo, and le. In keeping with the essence of simplicity that our articles feature, we will try to steer clear of grammatical nomenclature as far as possible.

The confusion around these pronouns is severely compounded by the fact that different parts of the Spanish speaking world have different ways of using them which are not necessarily consistent with what is acceptable as “correct” by prescription grammar.

The standard way

Before we continue into what the regional variations and colloquial “incorrect” usage are, it’s imperative that we first understand what the “correct” usage is. Well, even before that, let’s first brush up on what exactly these “objects” are.

In most languages, a typical sentence has 3 most basic components. Let’s understand this with an example sentence:

Escribe una carta (He writes a letter)

Referring to this example sentence, the three basic components would be:

  1. The action – This is typically what we know as the “verb.” In our example sentence, the action word is escribe (writes).

  2. The doer – The idea is that if something is being done, someone’s got to be doing it. This person, thing, or entity that performs the action in question is the “subject,” which in our example is él (he/she). Note that it’s often omitted in Spanish but implied inherently.

  3. The recipient – This word or phrase signifies the entity at the receiving end of the said action, grammatically known as the “object.” Objects typically answer the “what,” “whom,” or “to whom” in the sentence. Drawing on this, the object in our sentence is the word that answers the question, “What is being written?” Yes, it’s una carta (a letter).

Now, this recipient of action can be stated as either a direct or an indirect object. The letter in our previous example is essentially a direct object. Direct objects usually answer the question, “what.”

However, if we extend our example to answer the question, “to whom,” we get what’s called an indirect object. Let’s try it out:

Le escribe una carta (He writes a letter to her)

So, what’s being done here? Writing. That’s your verb. Who is doing the writing? He; that’s your subject. What’s he writing? A letter, the direct object. And, to whom is he writing the letter? To her, the indirect object. Easy-peasy? Hope so.

Now, let’s have a look at the words used as the direct and indirect recipients of actions in Spanish – The direct and indirect pronouns:

The pronouns for the first and the second persons are fairly simple and easy to digest:

  • me – First person singular for both direct and indirect pronouns; directly corresponds to the “me” in English. For example, me dio el libro (she gave the book to me; indirect), me vio (she saw me; direct).
  • te – Second person singular for both direct and indirect pronouns; directly corresponds to “you” or “to you” in English. For example, te dio el libro, te vio.

It’s the third person where the heat is. Here, depending on the gender, you have several words that one must choose from. First the direct objects:

  • lo – This one answers a “what” question when the recipient is a singular entity in the third person; e.g., lo vi (I saw him), lo tocó (you touched him).
  • la – This one is lo’s girlfriend; e.g., la vi (I saw her), la tocó (you touched her).

To read further, visit PeppyBurro.

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  1. Its like you read my mind! You appear to know so much about
    this, like you wrote the book in it or something.

    I think that you could do with a few pics to drive the message home a bit,
    but other than that, this is fantastic blog. An excellent
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  2. I had a colleague who actually taught this in high school. It made the kids even more confused! Poor teaching practices! It's OK to learn about this in college or if you're writing a thesis about usage in different countries, but in high school? REALLY?

  3. Totally agree with you, Emily. Discussing topics like Leísmo or Laísmo with a bunch of confused high-school kids is only a recipe for failure. Most non-Spanish high-schoolers should rather focus on “learning” the language first. The teachers job should be to make it fun for them to learn the vocabulary and grammar instead of dumping them with unnecessary information on the finer differences between the dialects. After all, what good is the knowledge of dialectical differences unless you have a grasp of the basic language to begin with?

    Besides, while some colloquialism and slang words might add an element of fun to the learning and help break the monotony, finer stuff like the one discussed in this topic are more suitable for those who already speak the language with a reasonable proficiency – maybe college students or independent learners.

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    I tell them to get RocketSpanish (video presentation here ), Why? because I'm using it and it's effective. I'm on a continuing search to achieve fluency in Spanish so I've tried many courses and self study programs. All of them have been boring or required quite alot of discipline that I just can't deal with. The lessons are engaging and effective, they deal with hundreds of concrete situations that I come up against when I stay in Venezuela, it even teaches you how to argue in Spanish, no other program can do better than that.

    I have a lot of wonderful friends in Venezuela, until now our conversations have been casual. I look forward to my next visit to further develop these relationships with my newly acquired skill in speaking Spanish. So if you need to learn Spanish fast, try Rocket Spanish. Quit looking and get learning!


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