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Spanish Subject Pronouns

A pronoun is a word that takes the place of a noun. In case of subject pronouns, the pronoun takes the place of a person. To understand this topic better, remember that the subject pronouns in English are I, you, he, she, it, we and they.

Spanish subject pronouns are different in some ways than English subject pronouns. For instance, there is more than one way to say “you”. Also, in some cases, the pronoun needs to be in agreement with the gender.

Let us have a look at these points one after the other.

The table below summarizes the subject pronouns in Spanish. So, they are yo, tú, él, ella, usted, nosotros/nosotras, vosotros/vosotras, ellos/ellas, ustedes.




él/ ella













As you see there are four versions of “you”: tú, usted, vosotros/vosotras, ustedes.

Tú and usted are used to talk to one person. Vosotros and ustedes are used to talk to more than one person.

What are the differences?

You (singular)

Well, the first fact you should be aware of is that for Spanish speakers how much you know a person is very important. If the person you are talking to is your friend, use tú. If, on the other hand, you are talking to a stranger, your boss, your teacher, someone who is older than you, use usted. In short, tú is used in informal situations and usted is used in formal situations.

You (plural)

As far as the subject pronoun “you” is concerned, whether you speak to one person or a group of people does not matter in English; one uses always “you”. In Spanish, it matters.

Here again, the use of “you” may depend on whether the situation is informal or formal. In informal cases, vosotros/vosotras is used in Spain. In formal situations, “ustedes” is used in Spain. On the other hand, in Latin America, vosotros is not used; ustedes is used in formal as well as in informal cases.

Hence, if you want to follow the Latin American way, you will not need the pronoun vosotros at all.

Ok then, when to use vosotros and when vosotras? The answer of this question is related to the topics which we will cover in the next lessons. For now, just realize that, Spanish language gives much more importance to gender than English does. In this respect, vosotros is used for a group of male and female members. Vosotras is used for a group of female members only.

Hence, if in a group, there is even 1 men and 9,999,999 women, use vosotros. For groups of only women, use vosotras. Keep in mind that this is the general rule of the Spanish language and you will experience the same principle being applied again and again at later stages of your Spanish learning.


Most often, usted is abbreviated Ud. Or Vd. And ustedes is abbreviated Uds. Or Vds.

The pronoun “nosotros/nosotras”

In case of  “we”, again the gender  is taken into account. And the above points related to vosotros and vosotras apply here as well. So, use nosotros for a group of male and female members and nosotras is for a group of only female members.

The same consideration holds for ellos and ellas. Ellos is for groups of mixed gender and ellas is for female groups.

Spanish subject pronouns are not used that frequently

This is another important point about Spanish subject pronouns. They are not used that often as we are used to in English. That means, use them only when you want to avoid a misunderstanding or to emphasize a point.  As you will learn later, in Spanish, you can understand the subject of the sentence from the conjugated form of the verb. That’s why; you can easily omit the subject pronouns in most cases.

For example, “yo me llamo” means my name is. On the other, in practice, you will hear only “me llamo”, mostly.


The information given above is summarized in the following table. Learn the subject pronouns by heart as soon as possible, as they are the foundation of the grammar topics.





you (informal)


he/she/you (formal)






you  (used only in Spain (informal))


they/ you (formal in Spain; informal & formal in latin America)

Note also that almost all Spanish resources show the pronoun “usted” in the same line as él/ella and “ustedes” in the same line as “ellos/ellas”, although they do not refer to the same person/people. The reason of this is the following. Grammatically, “usted” follows the same rules as él and ella and similarly the grammar rules for “ustedes” are the same as those for ellos and ellas. If you notice this fact already at the beginning, it will make the understanding of the conjugation of Spanish verbs much easier.


1.      Translate into Spanish

a)      I

b)      you (informal)

c)      he

d)      she

e)      you (formal)

f)       we

g)      they

2.      What is the correct form of subject pronoun, when you

a)      talk to your boss

b)      talk about your male boss

c)      talk about your female boss

d)      talk to your best friend

e)      talk to a group of familiar people in Spain 

Let's Practice

Translate into Spanish: I

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