Subject pronouns in Spanish (A1): yo, tú, él, ella nosotros…

Subject pronouns in Spanish (PRONOMBRES DE SUJETO EN ESPAÑOL) are pronouns that identify who or what is performing the action of a verb, below you can see the Spanish subject pronouns with their equivalents in English.

Learn everything about SUBJECT PRONOUNS in Spanish.

Subject pronouns in Spanish, how they work

In this video, Dr. Danny Evans presents a table of personal pronouns in Spanish. Pronouns are crucial to learning Spanish, so grab a pen and pencil and let’s get started!

Revision and examples

1. Unlike «I» in English, yo isn’t written with a capital letter, except when it starts a sentence.

2. Tú (you) and él (he) have accents to distinguish them from tu (your) and el (the).

3. There are four words for you, each using a different verb ending:

  • Tú: someone you call by the first name (informal)
  • Usted: someone you don’t know well, someone older than you (formal). In writing, it’s usually abbreviated to Ud. or Vd., and the verb with it has the same ending as for el/ella( he/she).
  • Vosotros/vosotras: more than one person in a familiar situation. It is mainly used in Spain.
  • Ustedes: more than one person in a formal situation. In writing, it is usually abbreviated to Uds. or Vd. and the verb with it has the same ending as for ellos/ellas (they). In Latinamerica ustedes is used rather than vosotros/-as.

4. We can be the masculine nosotros or the feminine nosotras, depending on who’s talking. Similarly, who´s being addressed, the familiar plural you can be vosotros or vosotras. Masculine forms are used when these words relate to a mixed group of men and women. The same is true of ellos (they).

5. Spanish subject pronouns usually go before the verb, but they go after it in questions: ¿Pagan ellos? (Are they paying?).

6. When it is used as the subject and when they refer to things, you never use a subject pronoun in Spanish: Es un cachorro (It is a puppy). Son botellas de cava (They’re bottles of cava).  There is a word for it: ello, but ello refers to a whole idea rather than a noun and is mainly used in formal written texts: No quiero hablar de ello (I don’t want to speak about it).

7. Subject pronouns are used much less than in English because the verb ending clearly shows who’s doing something. So they tend to be primarily used to contrast, emphasis, or avoid ambiguity:

  • Él trabaja en Buenos Aires, mientras que yo trabajo en Córdoba (He works in Buenos Aires while I work in Córdoba).
  • Nosotros no podemos ir pero tú sí (We can’t go but you can).
  • ¿Cómo se llama usted? (What’s your name?).
  • ¿Cómo se llama él? (What’s his name?).

8. For even greater emphasis, you can add mismo/a/os/as:

  • ¿Lo ha hecho ella misma? (Did she do it herself?).
  • Usted mismo lo ha visto (You yourself saw him).

9. Subject pronouns are also used in phrases like these:

  • Soy yo (It is me).
  • ¿Quién, tú? (Who, you?).
  • Nosotros también (Us too/So are/did we).

10. Don’t mistake subject pronouns with reflexive pronouns:

Yo me ducho con agua fría y ella se ducha con agua caliente (I shower -myself- with cold water and she showers -herself- with hot water).

Spanish subject pronouns exercises and quizzes

Now you can practice everything you have learned with the quizzes below, you can click on the link to learn more about personal pronouns.  Remember you can contact your tutor with any questions you have. Don’t you have a Spanish tutor yet?

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