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Spanish subject pronouns

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Spanish subject pronouns

subject pronouns

 

 

Like in English, Spanish subject pronouns are necessary to use when addressing other people. All Spanish subject pronouns have an equivalent form in English, but there are some things which are different and you must know. Here’s a list with both English and Spanish subject pronouns:

 

 

 

 

 

SINGULAR

SPANISH SUBJECT PRONOUNS ENGLISH SUBJECT PRONOUNS
Yo I
Tú (familiar) You
Usted (polite) You
Él He
Ella She

PLURAL

Nosotros/ Nosotras We
Vosotros / Vosotras (familiar) You
Ustedes (polite) You
Ellos/ Ellas They

The first thing for you to notice is that  we have feminine and masculine for some Spanish subject pronouns as you can see in nosotros / nosotras, vosotros / vosotras and ellos / ellas.

PLURAL

Nosotros

When referring to a group of people, including yourself, only men or when there is at least one male person, that is a mixed group.
 

Nosotras

When referring to a group of people, including yourself and feminine.
 

Vosotros

When addressing a group of people, in which you are not included, only men or when there is at least one male person, that is a mixed group.
 

Vosotras

When addressing a group of people, in which you are not included and feminine.
 

Ellos

When referring to a group of people, in which you are not included, only men or when there is at least one male person, that is a mixed group.

Ellas

When referring to a group of people, in which you are not included and feminine.

Let’s practise the difference between masculine and feminine by means of these sentencs:

  1. We are Spanish: nosotros somos españoles = if we say nosotros, which is plural masculine, we are referring to a group of people in which I, the speaker, include myself and there are at least one man.
  2. We are sisters: nosotras somos hermanas = nosotras, plural feminine, refers to a group of people where I, the speaker, is included and we are only women.
  3. You are tall: vosotros sois altos = vosotros, plural masculine, refers to a group of people but the speaker is not included. It can refer to all men or a mixed group.
  4. You are good friends: vosotras sois buenas amigas = vosotras, plural feminine, refers to a group of people, the speaker is not included and it’s feminine.
  5. They are bus drivers: ellos son conductores de autobús = ellos, plural masculine, refers to a group of people, either masculine or mixed, and the speaker is not included.
  6. They are teachers: ellas son maestras = ellas, plural feminine, refers to a group of people, all women, and the speaker is not included in that group.

Over to you!! Here’s an audio with the previous sentences. Listen and repeat!!

As you can see in the table of Spanish subject pronouns, there are some pronouns in English which have two different forms in Spanish, that is, singular you (tú or usted) and plural you (vosotros/ vosotras or ustedes) and I bet you are wondering when to use tú or usted, or vosotros/as or ustedes.

Both Tú and usted express the same thing, you in English, but in Spanish we make a difference between a familiar situation and a polite one. So when the situation is familiar and informal we say “tú”, whereas for a polite and formal conversation we use “usted”. Remember these two subject pronouns are singular. The plural forms are vosotros / vosotras and ustedes, familiar and polite respectively.

I would like you to imagine several situations, some informal and others formal and think which subject pronoun you would use in each case.

SITUATION 1

You meet a person you don’t know and want to know where that person, who is a stranger to you, is from.

First, singular or plural? = singular (it’s only one person).

Second, tú or usted? = usted (you don’t know him/ her).

Third, how would you ask him/her? = ¿De dónde es usted? = Where are you from?

If you don’t know or can’t remember how to ask Where are you from in Spanish?, I recommend your reading this explanation. 

SITUATION 2

You address a friend of yours and want to know if he/ she is at home at this moment.

First, singular or plural? = singular (it’s only one friend).

Second, tú or usted? = tú (a friend) = familiar.

Third, how would you ask him/her? = ¿Estás (tú) en casa? = are you at home?

As you can see tú is in brackets. You know why? Because Spanish subject pronouns can be omitted, actually they are normally omitted so if you want to sound natural when you speak, omit them too!!

SITUATION 3

You address a bank clerk in the bank, who has your ID and you tell him/her.

First, singular or plural? = singular (it’s only one person).

Second, tú or usted? = usted (polite situation/ you don’t know the person).

Third, how would tell him/her? =Usted tiene mi DNI = you have my ID.

SITUATION 4

You address a child and want to tell him/her that he/she is too young to smoke.

First, singular or plural? = singular (it’s only one person).

Second, tú or usted? = tú (young person).

Third, how would tell him/her? = tú eres muy joven para fumar = you are too young to smoke.

And last but not least, let me explain to you él, ella and ellos/ ellas.

In our table we wrote that he is él and she is ella, which is right and easy. When referring to a male, in singular, we use él. In contrast, for a a lady/ woman in singular we use ella, for example:

  1. He is my brother: él es mi hermano.
  2. She is my sister: ella es mi hermana.

But which subject pronoun do we need to refer to things in singular and plural? That’s another question, whose answer is very easy 🙂

  • For singular things / objects / animals = ella if feminine.
  • For singular things / objects / animals = él if masculine.
  • For plural things / objects / animals = ellas if feminine.
  • For plural things / objects / animals = ellos if masculine.

Examples:

  1. Es rojo = it’s red = speaking about a red dress. Remember we must omit Spanish subject pronouns. In English we say it (the dress) + verb + colour, but in Spanish we only say Verb + colour. As “vestido” (dress) is masculine singular, then we need to choose the subject pronoun él, but we omit él as it’s not necessary.
  2. Es cómoda = it’s comfortable = speaking about a chair. Chair in Spanish is silla, which is feminine singular, so we choose ella, which is omitted.
  3. Son negros = they are black = speaking about a pair of shoes. Shoes = zapatos = masculine plural, so the subject pronoun should be ellos, but it is omitted.
  4. Son ariscas = they are unfriendly = speaking about two female cats. Cat in feminine is gata, in plural gatas, so the subject pronoun is ellas.

Right and this is all for today. If you think this post could be of interest for your mates, please share it on social media.

Keep in touch! 🙂

 

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