- Subject Pronouns - Usage
- Subject Pronouns - Form
- Dropping the Pronoun
Personal subject pronouns (Los pronombres personales de sujeto) are words that substitute nouns (someone or something). Let's take a look at them.
Ella es mi hermana.
She is my sister.
Subject Pronouns - Usage
Rule 1: Subject pronouns are used for a variety of reasons. Their main function is to identify a noun in our speech. They can also be used on some occasions to avoid repetition.
Ellos son los estudiantes de la clase de español.
They are the students in the Spanish class.
Subject Pronouns - Form
Rule 2: Spanish personal pronouns are divided in the following way:
|1st person||yo||Yo soy Andrea.|
|Singular||2nd person||tú, vos*||¿Tú eres su amiga?|
|3rd person||él, ella, usted*||Ella es mi hermana.|
|1st person||nosotros, nosotras||Nosotros somos los estudiantes.|
|Plural||2nd person||vosotros, vosotras*||¿Vosotros coméis picante?|
|3rd person||ellos, ellas, ustedes*||Ellas no hablan alemán.|
Note: Usted is the formal form of tú, so it is used with the second person. However, because of its conjugation, it is grouped with the third person, which makes it easier to learn. The same is true for ustedes.
Cultural note: In Spain, vosotros and vosotras are used. Is used informally with family, friends, and close people. Ustedes, on the other hand, is used to address a group of people more formally, which is not the case in Latin America.
*In several Latin American countries such as Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Panamá, the pronoun vos is used instead of tú or usted.
¿Tú quieres un café? → ¿Vos querés un café?
As you can see in the example, not only the pronoun is different but the conjugation as well.
Rule 3: As you can see in chart 1.1, pronouns are divided into singular or plural. Plural pronouns are simply the pluralized version of singular pronouns. So yo becomes nosotros, nosotras, tú becomes ustedes, vosotros, vosotras, and él, ella, becomes ellos, ellas.
Él es mi amigo Marcos.
He is my friend Marcos.
Ellos son mis amigos Marcos y Genaro.
They are my friends, Marcos and Genaro.
Rule 4: Some pronouns in Spanish have gender - they are either masculine or feminine. These are:
Note: In the past, when there was a group of people that included women and men, a masculine pronoun was used to address the whole group. This is known as a generic masculine.
Ellos son Alicia, José y Manuel.
They are Alicia, José y Manuel.
However, with the introduction of inclusive language, this practice has started to disappear in some Spanish-speaking countries. Instead, pronouns are either omitted or both are mentioned.
Ella es Alicia, y ellos son José y Manuel.
She is Alicia, and they are José and Manuel.
It is worth mentioning, however, that the generic masculine is still present and used by many speakers.
Dropping the Pronoun
Rule 5: Spanish is a pro-drop language, this means that unless you want to be emphatic or contrast some idea, it is not necessary to include the pronouns all the time because the verb already carries this information. This is why sometimes you will see the subject pronoun in parenthesis.
|With pronoun||Without pronoun|
|¿(Tú) corres todas las mañanas?||¿Corres todas las mañanas?|
Note. This rule generally does not apply to usted. Since it has the same conjugation as él or ella, it is important to differentiate it and to emphasize the formality that this pronoun implies.
In which country are vosotros and vosotras used?