Subject Pronouns / pronombres de sujeto

To start off our Spanish lesson, we’ll first discuss how to say basic subject pronouns such as I, you, we, etc.! Most Spanish subject pronouns or pronombres de sujeto have an English counterpart, but there are a few exceptions.

The basic subject pronouns are:

Now lets go through each one individually.

  • I / Yo – To say “I sing well.” in Spanish would be <<Yo canto bien.>>
  • You (informal) / Tú – To say, “You sing well.” in Spanish would be <<Tú cantas bien.>> However, this subject pronoun would only be used for friends or people younger than you. Notice that tú has an accent.
  • You (formal) / Usted – To say, “You sing well.” in Spanish using the formal instead of informal would be <<Usted canta bien.>> This subject pronoun would be used for people in higher positions (ex: professors, politicians, etc.) or people older than you (ex: grandparents or parents).
  • Él, Ella – To say, “He sings well.” in Spanish would be <<Él canta bien.>> and “She sings well.” would be <<Ella canta bien.>> Notice that él has an accent but ella does not.
  • Nosotros, Nosotras – To say, “We sing well.” in Spanish would be <<Nosotros cantamos bien.>> If you are a woman and part of a group with other women, then you would use nosotras. However, if there is even one man in your group of women, then you would use nosotros.
  • You all (informal/formal) / Ustedes – If you were speaking to a group of people (ex: two or more), you would use the tense. To say, “You all sing well.” in Spanish would be <<Ustedes cantan bien.>> This tense is used for both informal and formal settings and for both genders.
  • You all (informal) / Vosotros, Vosotras **SPAIN only** – This special subject pronoun is used in Spain if you are speaking informally to a group of people.Verbs are even conjugated differently when vosotros is used. To say “You all sing well.” in Spain to an informal group of people would be <<Vosotros cantáis bien.>> Even though the conjugated verb ends in an “s,” don’t confuse it with the subject pronoun tú.
  • They / Ellos, Ellas – To say “They sing well” in Spanish would be <<Ellos cantan bien.>> Similar to nosotros/nosotras, gender plays a critical role. If you were describing a group of only women, then you would use ellas. If there is even one man, then use ellos.

Sometimes these subject pronouns or pronombres de sujeto are abbreviated. Usted is abbreviated as ud. and ustedes is abbreviated as uds. 

Tip #1 – Pronoun Drop: Spanish is also a “pronoun drop” language so the subject pronoun can be dropped, but the sentence would still make sense. For example, instead of <<Yo vivo.>> I could simply write <<Vivo.>> and it would mean exactly the same thing. This applies for all the other subject pronouns as well.

Tip #2 – Respect: The Spanish language has a deep focus on respect similar to other languages such as Mandarin or Vietnamese. If you use the tense <<Usted>> instead of <<Tú>>, then the person you are speaking with understands you are demonstrating respect to them.

Tip #3 Gender: Gender is another important component of the Spanish language. All words in Spanish have a gender attributed to them. For example, to say “the book” in Spanish is <<el libro>> which is masculine. On the other hand, to say “the kitchen” in Spanish is <<la cocina>> which is feminine.

Tip #4 el vs. él: Notice how el in el libro is written the same as the subject pronoun él? If you’re writing both words in the same sentence, such as “He reads the book” which would be <<Él lee el libro.>> don’t forget to put the accent!

Ready to practice? Click here for some vocab flashcards: 

Press “Start Study Session” then “Start Session.”


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