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I understand that the phrase "hacer a alguien hacer algo" means to make someone do something. My question is: is "alguien" the indirect or direct object? For example if someone were to say "I want to make him eat the food," would one say:

Quiero hacerlo comer la comida.

or

Quiero hacerle comer la comida.

Also, in either case, what part of speech is "comer la comida," or whatever someone is being made to do?

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  • A mi se me suena muy raro la frase "hacerlo comer la comida". Sera mas natural usar el subjuntivo en caso asi: "hacer que coma la comida".
    – Paul
    Nov 5, 2015 at 3:50
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    that "hacerle", "hacerlo" is well... leísmo and loísmo, in sapain would be "hacerle" and Mexico and other countires "hacerlo.
    – Jaume
    Nov 5, 2015 at 5:20
  • @Paul "Hacerlo/le comer" "Hacer/lo que coma" "Hacer que se coma" "Hacer que el coma" todas esas formas son correctas.
    – DGaleano
    Nov 5, 2015 at 13:47
  • @Jaime it actually isn't a question of leísmo or loísmo. That's when someone demonstrates a general tendency to use le as a direct object (relatively common, though only in Latin America when representing usted) or lo as an indirect object (quite uncommon). But as the DPD notes, speakers actually switch between indirect and direct paradigms depending on the transitivity of the verb. I'm slightly leísta and laísta, and so while I'll tend to use le always with men and la with women, with inanimate objects I make a clear lo/la vs. le distinction with hacer Nov 5, 2015 at 14:33

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Both are correct. Per the DPD:

Los verbos hacer y dejar, cuando tienen sentido causativo, esto es, cuando significan, respectivamente, ‘obligar’ y ‘permitir’, siguen la misma estructura que los verbos de influencia: «verbo causativo + complemento de persona + verbo subordinado». Tanto hacer como dejar tienden a construirse con complemento directo si el verbo subordinado es intransitivo: «Él la hizo bajar a su estudio y le mostró el cuadro» (Aguilera Caricia [Méx. 1983]); «Lo dejé hablar» (Azuela Tamaño [Méx. 1973]); y tienden a construirse con complemento indirecto cuando el segundo verbo es transitivo: «Alguien lo ayudó a incorporarse, lo estimuló y hasta le hizo tomar café» (JmnzEmán Tramas [Ven. 1991]); «El alcaide de la cárcel le dejaba tocar el banjo todas las mañanas» (Cela Cristo [Esp. 1988]).

Notice that it only says "tienden" and therefore there is no single approach — you will get variety, although the most common is to use a direct object when the verb is intransitive and the indirect object is transitive. In your example, the verb is transitive (comer la comida) so the most common would be to use le.

Likewise, to answer your other question, per the DPD, the term is a "subordinate verb".

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