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Help with specific lo/la usage

While I was doing my Spanish for the day, I came across two sentences.

"Yo lo observo a él" and "Él derrota a su amigo"

According to Duolingo, you can't say "yo observo a él" because it sounds incomplete without the "lo".

My question is why don't we need "lo" before "derrota" in the second sentence? What is it about the second sentence that allows us to leave it out?

Thank you!

April 15, 2016



Hi. It's about the huge amount of information “lo” gives.

In everyday speech, you won't say “yo lo derroto a él” but simply “yo lo derroto” since you can use “yo la derroto” for a woman. “Lo” (in this sentence) already points out you're talking about someone/something sorted in the masculine side of classified nouns (him).

In “él derrota a su amigo”, the word amigo is already giving you all the object and the gender “required” information, so adding “lo” would be like saying “he defeats him (to) his friend” or something of that nature.

Hope it helps, cheers!

April 15, 2016


Thank you for the reply!

If "amigo" gives us all that information (object/gender) to allow us to leave out the "lo", why doesn't "él" in the first sentence do the same?? "Él" is clearly masculine and the object of the sentence.

April 15, 2016


You're welcome! That's because “yo observo él”, for instance, wouldn't make any sense. It needs to be at least “(yo) lo observo”. You have to use whether “a”, “lo”, or both.

(Just as in French “je l'observe” [and probably the rest of the Romance languages]).

If there's no object other than her/him... you NEED to mention (la/lo) and you can optionally drop “a él/ella”.

If there's an specific object, like “(a su) amigo”, there's no need to use it. The emphasis is in “a su amigo” so “a él” is the important part to consider here, not “lo”.

Actually, you could keep it, it is just that almost no one would say that. It would be just awkward, for instance people usually say “thank you” and “bless you” without a subject, so if I do otherwise Duolingo is likely to mark it wrong, I guess you can report it.

P.D.: You can also drop “lo” in “yo lo observo” if you mention your friend: “(yo) observo a mi amigo”.

April 15, 2016


Ahhhhh I didn't know that rule about using lo/la when there is no object besides him/her in the sentence. That makes a lot of sense. Thank you so much Arturo! You've been a great help :))

April 15, 2016


Because when you say Yo lo observo a él you are not saying who "him" is. If you were making that statement to me my answer would be "¿Quién es él? Does that make it clearer for you?

April 15, 2016


If I were to say that sentence to you, I would assume you knew who we were talking about. If I came out of nowhere with my statement, I would specify someone. So lets say "him" is Juan, I wouldn't need "lo" right? I would just say "yo observo a Juan" ?

"A él " is only there to specify what "lo" is, correct?

April 15, 2016


right, greggymartins

LO,LA,LOS,LAS= pronouns when they refer to the OBJECT

yo observo UN ARBOL = yo LO observo
yo observo UNA PLANTA = yo LA observo

s+v+human OD
yo observo A JUAN = yo LO observo
yo observo A JUANA = yo LA observo

yo doy un libro A JUAN = yo LE doy un libro
yo doy un libro A JUANA = yo LE doy un libro

So many people use unproperly these pronouns, that there is a name for the mistake: "LEÍSMO" and "LOÍSMO"

The rule I'm explaining here is correct, but if you listen to me, I'm "leísta".... and, believe me, if I was strict in using the rule properly, people around me would ask me where I am from.... imagine how common it is.


(pls correct my English)
Edited 18-apr-2016

April 17, 2016


Thank you Parafrances! Your post was very useful and informative.

I didn't know about leísmo and loísmo/laísmo. I've mostly been studying Latin American Spanish so these concepts are new to me. Very good to know when speaking to someone from Spain!

About one of your examples. "yo observo UNA PLANTA = yo LE observo"

Shouldn't that be "la" instead of "le" or is this an example of leísmo?

An excerpt from a wiki about leísmo says: "It involves using the indirect object pronoun le in place of the (standard) masculine direct object pronoun lo, especially when the direct object refers to a male person."

Does leísmo also apply to the feminine direct object pronoun "la" or is it strictly just used with lo?

As for your English, here are some corrections:

"So many people use unproperly these pronouns, that there is a name for the mistake: "LEÍSMO" and "LOÍSMO"

Correction: "So many people improperly use these pronouns that there are two names for the mistake: "LEÍSMO" and "LOÍSMO"

"The rule I'm giving you is correct, but if you listen to me, I'm "leísta".... and, believe me, if I was strict in using the rule properly would ask me where I am from, so common it is."

Correction: You could say "The rule that I mentioned/specified is correct. I am a "leísta" (because I use the leismo concept) and believe me, if I was strict about using the rule properly, you/people (I wasn't sure who you were referring to) would ask me where I come from. It is so common.

Thank you for the help!


April 17, 2016


I have corrected my mistake in my prior entry, the example IS:

  • "yo observo UNA PLANTA = yo LA observo "

I have also edited my English.

Thank you for pointing it out, greggymartins

Shame on me.

April 18, 2016
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