Él compró un anillo para mí?
Seriously, it's killing me to learn the pronouns in Spanish like IO, DO and prepositional pronouns. They're so difficult and confusing. For example, any of you could tell me the difference between this one "Él compró un anillo para mí" and "Él me compró un anillo"?! And in this setence "Nos contaron la historia a nosotros", could it be "Contaron la historia a nosotros" as the "a nosotros" = to us, is clear enough. I really don't understand!!!
Él me compró un anillo"
This one would be confusing if he were buying a ring for someone else besides me, you, or us. If it were "Él le compró un anillo" and the "le" could mean him, her, or Ud. So it's better to just practice the clarifying "para mi."
Él compró un anillo para mí" and "Contaron la historia a nosotros"
No, sorry. Spanish needs the pronouns more than it needs the clarifying "a nosotros" or "para mi." Just because it's closer to our English phrasing doesn't mean it's more correct. You might find this discussion useful.
(Edited twice for clarity; see thread.)
Él le compró un anillo, not se compró. You need an indirect object pronoun here, since he's buying the ring for the person represented by "le".
You'd only use "se" as an indirect object pronoun if you'd ordinarily use "le", but you have a direct object pronoun too. For example, if you were saying "it" instead of "the ring", and he was buying it for "her", you'd say "él se lo compra (para ella)" instead of "él le lo compra", since "le lo" is difficult to say.
With respect to the redundant pronouns, you're right on. Generally speaking, I go with the pronoun only, unless the subject is unclear from the pronoun, in which case you can stick the subject on the end. In the example with a nosotros above, I'd only use nos and leave off a nosotros, unless I wanted to emphasize the nosotros more. Maybe in an exchange like: "Did she tell them the story?" "No, she told US the story...I was there too, remember?".
Edit: Me no write good at night. Sorry for those of you who tried to read that before the edit.
You two are both wonderful help for these grammar-related issues. Gracias a las dos.
Oh man, I totally misread that first sentence and thought there was a pronoun! I'll edit so it's more clear.
And yeah, my bad on the le/se. Thanks for the correction.
Upon re-reading the "él compró un anillo para mi," I think it's actually "he bought the ring" and "the ring is for me." Not, "he bought me the ring and gave it to me," just the purpose of the purchase is to give it to me. More along the lines of "él compró un boleto para volar."
So I'm not sure the "para mí" is really the indirect object of the action here, thus no indirect object pronoun is needed. Instead, I think it's just the reason. Like, "Él compró un anillo para Navidad," or "él compó un anillo para su propuesta de matrimonio."
I have a coworker who is really good at explaining these grammar details. (She's a linguist, ESL teacher, and is almost fluent in Spanish.) I'll ask her tomorrow.
True true true, it means "He bought a ring for me". I think it's getting clearer now. So they're pretty different, aren't they? If it says "él compró un anillo para mi", it could be he just bought the ring but hasn't given it to me (we know that he bought the ring for me but don't know if he gives it to me or not) while "él me(?) compró un anillo" means he bought it and gave it to me?!
Since we don't really have indirect objects in English, the line between the two is pretty fuzzy! What is your native language? Maybe you can find someone or some site that explains indirect objects for Spanish in your native language? That might help.
I'm voting for that explanation of the differences, yes! "Él me compró un anillo" could be the answer to "what did he buy you for your anniversary?" He bought the ring, he gave it already. But "Él compró un anillo para mí" could be the answer to "what did he buy at the jewelry store yesterday?"
I tried to come up with some other examples but couldn't. Surely this isn't an unusual case. I think I'm stuck because again, English doesn't really do indirect objects like Spanish does.
I think in English we could either say "He bought me a ring" or "He bought a ring for me" and they mean basically the same thing. We definitely do have indirect objects in English, as in the first sentence above. It's just that there are many ways to say the same thing, and that's true in Spanish as well as English.
Thank you two for the answers. So does it mean that we always need indirect object pronouns in the sentece? And one more thing I still don't understand is that as you said about the first example it must have been "Él le compró un anillo (para ella) but as I was reading the lesson in studyspanish, it has an example like this "Pablo compró un anillo para ella". So is that sentence incorrect as the correct one should have been "Pablo le compró un anillo (para ella)?" And what is the role of the "le" in "Él le compró un anillo para mí", I thought it was "Él me..." because it means "to me"?! As my English is even worst than my Spanish, it's pretty hard for me to understand... so I'm sorry for asking too much!!!
No worries about asking too much, it's part of the process. :)
In English, we consider "He buys me a ring" and "He buys a ring for me" to be totally interchangeable. It's not quite like that in Spanish though. As far as I can tell, the general rule of thumb is something like:
If you can use an IO pronoun, then use it. If the sentence isn't clear after that, clarify by repeating the noun afterwards.
I've seen some websites go as far as to say that the IOP is required in sentences like "Pablo le compró un anillo para ella", but most websites aren't quite so strict. It's definitely preferred though.
You're absolutely right about the use of me vs le as IOPs. I changed the IO in my sentence above from me to her to demonstrate a situation where le changes into se. If the IO was still "me", you'd still use "me" as the pronoun. That is to say, "He buys a ring for me" would be "él me compra un anillo (para mí)", no le anywhere :)
In short, always use the pronoun for the IO if you can, and use the noun in addition, in the following cases:
- when the subject is unclear after just using the pronoun (le can refer to he, she, it, or you)
- when you want to emphasize the IO ("You said that to HER?!")
In addition to the site I linked above, these articles provide some good information about using IOPs: