"She touched his shoulder."
Translation:Ella le tocó el hombro.
You use the article instead of possessives for body parts (you say e.g. "tengo un dolor de la pierna" = "I have a pain in the leg"). So this sentence sounds a bit odd translated to English, but you still just use the article for the body part, but use the object pronoun to clarify who it belongs to.
Update (my spanish knowledge is better now) This is basically a different way of describing possession instead of saying mi/tu/su. You use the article and the indirect object pronoun, even for other things e.g. you can say "me robaron el móvil" instead of "robaron mi móvil" (they stole my phone). It basically means the same thing but you always write it this way for body parts.
That's what we have reflexive verbs for. Watch:
- Ella le tocó el hombro. She touched his/her shoulder. (tocar)
- Ella se tocó el hombro. She touched her own shoulder. (tocarse)
Obviously the reflexive pronoun in Spanish changes according to the subject (which is who is doing the touching):
- Yo me toqué el hombro. I touched my shoulder. (tocarse)
this is actually a bit tautological. you have already used 'le' to say that the verb is being done onto him/her, so using 'su' to say that it is his/her shoulder adds no extra meaning to the sentence. it sounds very strange when translated directly to english, but its just another thing to get used to!
I struggle with direct and indirect objects in Spanish. In this sentence it seems to me that "shoulder" is a direct object because it receives the action of the verb. I found a web site that said that the distinction between direct and indirect objects is different in the two languages and provided an example of "Le pidieron su dirección" (They asked him for his address) in which "him" is considered an indirect object in Spanish even though it would be a direct object in English. I couldn't find any rules that explain how to know when these differences apply. I would be grateful for any guidance.