Subject Pronouns in Spanish: Explained For Beginners

Subject Pronouns in Spanish

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Subject Pronouns in Spanish, or los Pronombres Personales, are simply what we use to identify the subject of a verb – be it a person, place, or thing.

These pronouns (also referred to as “personal pronouns”) tell us who or what is performing the action of a verb, without needing to repeat an aforementioned noun.

Let’s see a simple example of them in action:

  • Claudia and Miguel are friends. They met at school – Claudia y Miguel son amigos. Ellos se conocieron en la escuela

In this example, the subjects Claudia and Miguel were replaced by the subject pronoun ellos (they).

Recommended: How to Learn Spanish Fast in 2021

Below are all of the Subject Pronouns in Spanish that you should know.

Personal Pronoun Pronombre Personal
I Yo
You
He Él
She Ella
You (formal) Usted
We Nosotros(as)
They Ellos(as)
You (plural) Ustedes

As a beginner student, subject pronouns in Spanish will often be one of the first (if not the first) topics you’ll cover.

Unlike in English, the subject pronoun you use in Spanish will dictate:

  1. how a verb is conjugated
  2. the gender of any adjectives attached to it.

Below are some of the major differences between English and Spanish subject pronouns.

  • The English singular “you” exists in two forms in Spanish:  (informal) and usted (formal) Similarly, there are two plural forms for “you” – vosotros (informal) and ustedes (mostly formal). The former tends to be less used in Latin America ( read more about tú vs usted here)
  • The pronoun ustedes can be used for both formal and informal scenarios.
  • While subject pronouns in Spanish are similar to those in English,  the Spanish language does not have an equivalent for the English it form. In Spanish, all things are either masculine or feminine.
  • In some South American countries (Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and certain regions in Colombia, Venezuela and Chile), speakers use another pronoun: vos. This pronoun takes the place of , and it is equally informal. The phenomenon is known as voseo.
  • The pronoun vosotros(as) tends to be used by speakers of Castilian Spanish (spoken in Spain), in contrast with ustedes, which is used much more by native speakers in Latin America.
  • Subject pronouns used to describe a group of people (we, they or you (plural)) change depending on the gender you are referring to. So, nosotras, vosotras y ellas will be used with groups of all women, and nosotros, vosotros and ellos will be used with all men or mixed groups.

Still with us?

Good.

Take a look at the below table to see which subject pronouns are used, depending on who is speaking/being addressed, or their connection to what is being said.

Grammatical Person Pronoun English Equivalent Function
Primera persona(1st person)  Yo (singular) I Refers to the person who is the speaker.
Nosotros (plural) We
Nosotras (plural)
Segunda persona

(2nd person)

Tú (singular) You Refers to the person who the message is addressed to. 

In other words, the person who is listening.

Usted (singular) You (Formal)
Ustedes (plural) You (Plural)
Vosotros(as) (plural)
Tercera persona

(3rd person)

Él (singular) He Refers to a person that is not included in the conversation itself
Ella (singular) She
Ellos (plural) They
Ellas (plural)

 

So, when do I *actually* need to use Subject Pronouns in Spanish?

Don’t worry.

This question is a common one among beginner Spanish students.

As you are probably aware, in most cases, the conjugated verb is enough to tell us who or what the subject of a sentence is.

For example, the meaning of the below sentence does not change, regardless of including the subject pronoun (yo) or not.

  • I am going to the supermarket this afternoon – Yo voy al supermercado esta tarde
  • I am going to the supermarket this afternoon – Voy al supermercado esta tarde

So in which scenario do you need to include the subject pronoun?

1) When the subject needs to be emphasized:

  • She is a very nice person – Ella es una persona muy chévere (She’s the one who is very nice)
  • Many people were dressing pink t-shirts but she wore a green one – Muchas personas estaban usando franelas rosadas, pero ella usaba una verde (she was the only person wearing a green t-shirt)
  • José is her best friend. He listens to her anytime –  José es su mejor amigo. Él la escucha en cualquier momento (he is the one who listens to her)
  • She is the person I admire the most – Ella es la persona que más admiro (she is the only person I really admire)
  • They were the guys who came here yesterday – Ellos son los tipos que vinieron ayer (they were the only ones who came)

2) When making a comparison, after the conjunction que (than)

  • Julián is taller than me – Julián es más alto que yo
  • The teacher said Carlitos was smarter than her – La maestra dijo que Carlitos era más listo que ella
  • María and Jimena are more qualified writers than you all – María y Jimena son escritoras más calificadas que ustedes
  • Nancy was born in 1985 and Marcos in 1989, she is older than him – Nancy nació en 1985 y Marcos en 1989, ella es mayor que él
  • She is a better dancer than you. You must improve your dance moves – Ella es mejor bailarina que . Debes mejorar tus pasos de baile

Subject Pronouns in Spanish: Exercises

Choose the correct Subject Pronoun in each sentence:

  1. A mis padres les gusta mucho viajar. Ellas / yo / ellos conocieron Roma y Madrid el año pasado
  2. ¿Ella / ellos /tú vendrás a la fiesta de navidad? Porque necesitaremos algo de ayuda
  3. Él / ustedes / yo estoy aprendiendo inglés y francés, pero ellas / nosotros / tú están aprendiendo italiano
  4. María y yo somos amantes de la ciencia ficción. Nosotros / ellas / él hemos leído cientos de libros en muy poco tiempo
  5. A Gabriela y Daniel les gustaría comprar una casa en Colombia. Nosotros / él / ustedes quiere vivir en Cartagena, pero ella / ellos / tú prefiere una ciudad como Bogotá
  6. Nosotras / ustedes / usted fuimos al teatro anoche. ¿Qué hicieron tú / ella / ustedes?
  7. Yo / tú / ella necesitas pasaporte vigente y el certificado de salud para poder viajar a Brasil
  8. Mi hermano y su novia estudian en Uruguay, ustedes / vosotros / él estudia medicina y tú / ella / vosotras estudia ingenieria
  9. Michelle y Katherine amaban la música, es por eso que ellas / tú / nosotras solían cantar  bailar muy bien
  10. Él / yo / nosotros haré la tarea cuando pueda. No tengo tiempo

Answers

  1. A mis padres les gusta mucho viajar. Ellos conocieron Roma y Madrid el año pasado
  2. ¿ vendrás a la fiesta de navidad? Porque necesitaremos algo de ayuda
  3. Yo estoy aprendiendo inglés y francés, pero ellas están aprendiendo italiano
  4. María y yo somos amantes de la ciencia ficción. Nosotros hemos leído cientos de libros en muy poco tiempo
  5. A Gabriela y Daniel les gustaría comprar una casa en Colombia. Él quiere vivir en Cartagena, pero ella prefiere una ciudad como Bogotá
  6. Nosotras fuimos al teatro anoche. ¿Qué hicieron ustedes?
  7. necesitas pasaporte vigente y el certificado de salud para poder viajar a Brasil
  8. Mi hermano y su novia estudian en Uruguay, él estudia medicina y ella estudia ingenieria
  9. Michelle y Katherine amaban la música, es por eso que ellas solían cantar y bailar muy bien
  10. Yo haré la tarea cuando pueda. No tengo tiempo
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