How do you count words? Ashley Wagner discusses the question as part of our video on the number of words in the English language.
Note that the points given below on the position of her as a direct and indirect object pronoun also apply to the other object pronouns me, you, him, it, us, them
As a pronoun
▪ When used as a direct object pronoun, her is translated by la, and usually precedes the verb:
I know/don’t know her = la conozco/no la conozco
I’ve already seen her = ya la he visto
In imperatives, her is translated by la, and is attached to the end of the verb:
look at her! = ¡mírala! (with tú)
kill her! = ¡mátela! (with usted)
In negative commands, however, la comes before the verb:
don’t touch her! = ¡no la toques!
▪ When used as an indirect object pronoun, her is translated by le, and usually precedes the verb; a ella may be added to avoid ambiguity:
I gave her the book o I gave the book to her = le di el libro (a ella)
Where a direct object pronoun is also used, her is translated by se to avoid two pronouns beginning with l appearing together. The order is se + direct object pronoun + verb:
I said it to her = se lo dije (a ella) (and not le lo dije)
In imperatives, her as indirect object is translated by le, and is attached to the end of the verb:
buy her the book! = ¡cómprale el libro!
Where a direct object pronoun is also used, her is translated by se. It is attached to the end of the verb, followed by the direct object pronoun:
give it to her! = ¡dáselo (a ella)!
In negative imperatives, the order is se + direct object pronoun + verb:
don’t give it to her! = ¡no se lo des!
With the infinitive
When her as direct or indirect object follows an infinitive, the translation can always be attached to the infinitive. Note that, in some of the examples below, her can also be placed before the finite verb preceding the infinitive:
I want to see her = quiero verla or la quiero ver
he wants to give her a book = quiere darle un libro or le quiero dar un libro
we ought to explain it to her = deberíamos explicárselo or se lo deberíamos explicar
With the gerund
When her as direct or indirect object follows a gerund, the translation is attached to the gerund:
he stood there staring at her = se quedó allí mirándola fijamente
When used with continuous tenses, however, it may precede the auxiliary verb:
why are you looking at her? = ¿por qué estás mirándola or la estás mirando?
I’ve been talking with her about it for two hours = llevo dos horas hablándole del asunto
Note that the addition of a pronoun or pronouns to the end of an imperative, infinitive, or gerund does not alter the stress on the word to which it is added. An accent is therefore required if the stressed syllable is no longer in the penultimate position:
search for her! = ¡búsquela!
looking at = mirando
looking at her = mirándola
to communicate = comunicar
to communicate it to her = comunicárselo
This applies to imperatives with vos with reverse effect; in the example below, the addition of the pronoun means that the stress now follows the usual pattern by falling on the penultimate syllable:
look! = ¡mirá!
look at her! = ¡mirala!
The different forms of the imperative with pronoun are:
look at her! = ¡mírala! (with tú – basic form mira) = ¡mirala! (with vos – basic form mirá)
¡miradla! (with vosotros/vosotras – basic form mirad) = ¡mírela! (with usted – basic form mire) = ¡mírenla! (with ustedes – basic form miren)
In the case of a single-syllable ‘root’ word, stress still falls on that word:
to give = dar
to give it to her = dárselo
After prepositions and the verb ‘to be’
The translation of her after prepositions and to be is ella:
he did it for her = lo hizo por ella
it’s her = es ella
As an adjective
When translating her as an adjective, the translation su agrees in number with the noun which it modifies:
her father/mother = su padre/madre
her books/magazines = sus libros/revistas
For her used with parts of the body, see The Human Body in Vocabulary-building notes about the Spanish language
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