Updated: Jul 12, 2020
The words “I” “you” “he” “she” “we” “you-all” and “they” are called subject pronouns. Spanish has corresponding subject pronouns. Here’s a list of the English subject pronouns and their Spanish equivalents:
Personal pronouns replace a subject noun or name and they are classified several different ways:
-number (singular, plural),
- person (1st, 2nd, 3rd person),
- gender (male, female),
- formality (formal or informal).
Spanish subject pronouns are both similar to and different from their English counterparts. Let’s examine some of the differences.
It isn't necessary to capitalize yo in Spanish unless it is the first word in a sentence.
Look more closely at the English word “you.” As the picture shows, there are many ways to say "you" in Spanish. To say "you" referring to one person, use tú or usted. Spanish has a formal and an informal form of the word “you.”“Usted” is more formal and is generally used to express respect. “Tú” is more familiar and is used among friends, coworkers, relatives, or when addressing a child. You can abbreviate usted as Ud. in writing. "Vos" is you in Argentina.
To say "you" referring to more than one person, use vosotros or ustedes.. Note that "vosotros" is used only in Spain. Once again, the difference lies in the degree of formality conveyed by the speaker. However, the "vosotros" and "vosotras" form is used primarily in Spain. Throughout Latin America, “ustedes” is generally used in both formal and informal situations to refer to “you-all.” You can abbreviate ustedes as Uds. in writing.
Note: usted can be abbreviated Ud. or Vd. ; ustedes can be abbreviated Uds. or Vds.
In many ways, Spanish is more gender-specific than English. We find evidence of this in the subject pronouns. First, look at the word “nosotros.” This means “we” in the sense of a group containing at least one male. If the group contains only females, the word “nosotras” is used. So, in Spanish, there are two ways to say “we”:
This same idea applies to the English word “they”:
This same idea also applies to the “vosotros” and "vosotras" form.
Listening Activity No. 1: Spanish Subject Pronouns
Free Student Handout Activity No. 2 Personal Pronouns. Enjoy it!
¡Hasta la vista!
The Español Latino Team.