I've been thinking about this a lot:

La pelota es roja. La niña juega con la.

As far as I can tell, the second sentence is correct, with "la" being the direct object pronoun. But the sentence ending with "con la" sounds wrong to my ears.

  1. Is it correct?
  2. Is there a better way to say "she plays with it"?
  • 5
    "la" is an object pronoun only before verbs (or occasionally after them as an "enclitic pronoun"): La patea (She kicks it). After a preposition, you need a pronoun like "eso" or "ella" to refer to the ball. – Gustavson Apr 2 '17 at 20:30
  • 1
    @Gustavson - Since comments aren't permanent, I'd suggest you add this to the answer, which is strong but not complete without what you explained. – aparente001 Apr 3 '17 at 1:08
  • "la" means "the" in femenine, it's a pronoun.The correct form would be "it", which in femenine singular is "ella"."The girl plays with it" -> "La niña juega con ella". "The girl plays with the" -> "La niña juega con la". – CptEric Apr 3 '17 at 7:43
  • @CptEric "la" is an article in "la pelota" (the ball) and a pronoun in "la patea" (...kicks it). In both cases, it expresses feminine gender, but grammatically speaking it's two completely different words. – Gustavson Apr 3 '17 at 10:30
  • you're correct @Gustavson in that they're separate meanings ( before a subject it's mean to be an article), but "la" must be followed by a verb in a time and form that makes sense, to be used as a pronoun ("la patea", "la alcanza"," la recoje", "la perdió".) <- the last one doesn't use the same verbal time as the start of the sentence, losing all sense and being incorrect. – CptEric Apr 3 '17 at 10:38

The correct sentence would be

La pelota es roja. La niña juega con ella.

The pronoun la is the clitic non-emphatic object pronoun. Third-person object pronouns are not used after prepositions like this. It seems you might be calquing the English structure.

First- and second-person singular object pronouns are used after prepositions, as well as the reflexive pronoun :

  • conmigo (con + mí), contigo, consigo
  • para mí, para ti, para sí
  • sobre mí, sobre ti, sobre sí

but in all the other cases you have to use the regular, emphatic pronouns:

  • con él, con ella, con ellos, con ellas, con nosotros, con vosotros/ustedes
  • para él, para ella, para ellos, para ellas, para nosotros, para vosotros/ustedes
  • sobre él, sobre ella, sobre ellos, sobre ellas, sobre nosotros, sobre vosotros/ustedes
| improve this answer | |

In English, the word la means the (feminine), so if you translate the phrase to English it would be like

The ball is red. The girl plays with the.

When translating "it" to Spanish you have to remember if it's masculine or feminine and use él in first case or ella in second case.

| improve this answer | |
  • I feel like trying to use direct translation between two languages which are so fundamentally different is always a mistake, even if in this case the translated sentence makes as much sense (aka none) as the original one. – Brian H. Apr 7 '17 at 7:29
  • That's correct, you can't transtale literally in most cases, but this sentence is really simple and I found out it actually can (really has to) be translated that way. – Kroneaux Schneider Apr 7 '17 at 13:16
  • It seems the OP was confusing it with the "la" in sentences like "la patea". But of course the point still stands. – xji Apr 9 '17 at 18:08

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.