Subject Pronouns in Spanish: The Basics

We use subject pronouns to talk about someone without using their name, or to avoid being redundant. In English, the subject pronouns are I, you, we, they, he, she, and it. Every English sentence must have a subject, so we use these words quite often.

It's a little bit different in Spanish. The subject pronouns are still very important, but if who or what we are talking about is already clear from the context, we can leave the subject out. For this reason, subject pronouns are only used when absolutely necessary for emphasis or clarification. Let's see what the subject pronouns are in Spanish.

I = yo
This one is easy - if you're talking about yourself, use yo.

You = tú, usted, ustedes, vosotros, vosotras

Choosing the correct form of "you" is one of the most difficult parts of subject pronouns in Spanish. In fact, we decided to devote an entire lesson to the subject. [link to lesson 29] Here are the basics:

Singular (talking to one person)Plural (talking to 2+ people) Plural (talking to 2+ people) - in Spain ONLY
Informal (talking to a friend, family member, or someone significantly younger than you)Vosotros (male or mixed groups) Vosotras (female only groups)
Formal (talking to a stranger, supervisor, customer, or someone significantly older than you)UstedUstedesUstedes

He = él
She = ella
Again, pretty simple!
It = el/ella/[nothing]

Because every noun has a gender in Spanish, you will use él to say "it" for masculine items, and ella to say "it" for feminine items. If you're using the "impersonal it" to make a general comment like "It's hot today "or" It's difficult to learn Spanish, you don't need to include a subject at all (i.e. Hace calor hoy; Es difícil aprender Español)

We = nosotrosor nosotras

Nosotros is the masculine form, and it is used to say "we"in all-male groups, or in mixed male and female groups. Nosotras is the feminine form, and is only used for groups consisting entirely of females. If there is even one man in the group, you use the male from nosotros, which is considered the neutral or default form.

They = ellos or ellas

Like with nosotros/nosotras, you have to distinguish by gender when you say "they." If it is a group of all females, use ellas. Otherwise, use ellos.

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