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Is this "leismo" ?

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Tim Ferriss believes that the following sentences (in any language) are "key to language" sentences.

The apple is red. It is John's apple. I gave John the apple. We give him the apple. He gives it to John. She gives it to him. I must give it to him. I want to give it to her.

I translated these in Spanish and showed my teacher (from Peru). Her comment was that I had all correct except "He gives it to John."

I had: El la da a Juan.

Her comment was "Use LE not LA because it's more polite." Obviously, I felt I was ¨missing¨ something because I knew the direct object pronoun to replace la manzana is LA. Later, I learned that many Spanish users substitute the object prounouns for indirect objects pronouns. Is this ¨leismo¨?

5 years ago



I am glad you bring this up. I took too long to appear here and it is very positive, at least for you, because means you're going deep :). I believe that the funny distribution of users un DL means that the most advanced are aware of it and the rest are very far from reaching this point.

Leismo and Laismo are there, they are characteristic of certain areas and more acute among uneducated people. This means you can't "ignore" it, because if you plan to use you Spanish, you will come across it... in some places big time.

As far as I know, the status of this issue remains what it was when I studied: it's a mistake and a very big one. The fact that many people around you (in certain areas) do it, does not make it any better.

In my opinion this issue alone is worth learning how the direct and indirect objects work, because you can always put it right.

Do not be fooled by "it's typical from my region" and " we say it this way where I am from" or " what would you know". Natives make this mistake and, as I said, many do not even realize. In case of doubt you can always challenge you interlocutor for a proof :) (really)

That said, there is also loismo ... which doesn't make things much better, but that's life.

The explanation from your example gives me the creeps, to be honest. The policy rules of DL restrain me from expressing my deep feelings, but let's say that I am having none of it. And neither should you.

Good luck and may the truth be with you :P

5 years ago


I will preface my comments with I probably shouldn't venture into these waters because I am so new to all learning a second language but if I do perhaps others like me won't skip over this discussion. I will wade in as far as I am comfortable. Your sentence in question "él lo da a Juan" to me is exactly correct. The direct object pronoun refers to 'it' and I can't see how 'le' would be right or somehow make it more polite. "a Juan" is added to clarify who that's all,right? As someone said earlier in a different way perhaps the "politeness" card was used to cover up a mistake made by the teacher who realized the error you pointed out. So this 'leismos.laismos controversy, with all due respect because I don't know want to be rude/ignorant, means what exactly? That there is confusion even with experienced native spanish speakers when it comes to direct/indirect pronouns.

5 years ago


Leismo is the practice of replacing "lo" or "la" with "le" when the direct object is a person. It is very common in Spain, even in written literature. It's also practiced in parts of Latin America, but I don't think it's as widespread in the Western Hemisphere.

5 years ago


Leismo, laismo and loismo are quite straightforward... with the grammar right in front of you. The first is to say that it is incorrect (I say it again, because a lot of people says: "I've said it like that all my life" and that is not even a good excuse).

le and la referr to indirect objects, (obviously in the context we are speaking) and the practice comes to use them instead of lo, according to the gender. Funny enough people tend to "pick" one gender, so they use le or la instead but not both at the same time (probably you can find some place, someone somewhere who does it). Loismo is just the use of lo for both indirect objects. (lo for everything) There is no "politeness" issue, because you are not referring to anybody as if they were a rock. It is grammar, it's the right way to do it and that's about it.

Take this:

Se lo dijo, se la dijo, se le dijo

Some people will tell you that the three of them mean the same, at least most will say that one of the last two is equivalent to the first.

Don't brood about it too much. My recommendation is to learn the objects and then you'll be fine. If somebody tells you to use le or la, just ask them to explain with the object theory. If they struggle or wave it... just stick to your guns

4 years ago

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Se lo dijo = (Whoever) said it (the secret, masculine) to him or her. ("se" stands for him or her) and "lo" for the secret.

Se la dijo = (Whoever) said it (the formula, feminine) to him or her. ("se" stands for him or her) and "la" for the formula.

Se le dijo..... que... = (One) said (to him or her) .. that.... ( in this sentence "le" stands for him or her)

Se le dijo (something) = (One) said ("it" implied and does not appear in this sentence) ) (to him or her) This sentence is better translated into: He or she was told .... whatever.

Hope this helps!

4 years ago


Shouldn't "He gives it to John" actually be "El se la da a Juan"? "Se" being the indirect object referring to Juan and "la" the direct object pronoun referring to apple?

5 years ago

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I concur with you, hunter18288.

Just in case this discussion thread has anyone confused, I took some time to find some examples of this over at Reverso and Tatoeba. I found more examples when I used the past tense for third person singular, so you'll see these examples with "dio" rather than "da."

The first set of examples are those that use a proper name, just like the example Talca presented to us:

Source: Reverso

When you see "lo" the "it" refers to a noun with masculine gender and when you see it with "la," a noun with feminine gender.

These next examples are those that do not include a proper name. However, they show that the construct really doesn't change (unless the indirect object is a pronoun that doesn't require additional clarification ... see the last example in this next list):

Source: Reverso

Having said that, the last example could also be written,

"Me lo dio a mí cuando empecé el ferrocarril,"

if you wanted to emphasize "me."

And for those who don't like to rely on a single source of information, below is an example from Tatoeba:


2 years ago