Given this sentence:

Ella les cocina a ustedes

Why is "les" used when "ustedes" is used later on? Is this not redundant?

Why would "ustedes" be used further on if "les" is already in use?


3 Answers 3


In a comment I've referred you to a question which answers this already. In short, if there's an indirect complement expressed as a full pronoun (in this case [a] ustedes), then the equivalent clitic (short, unstressed) form of the pronoun must appear (les). The same, using other persons and numbers:

  • Ella me cocina a mí.
  • Ella te cocina a ti.
  • Ella le cocina a él.
  • Ella nos cocina a nosotros.
  • Ella les cocina a ellos.

(This is just a grammar rule, i. e. just how the language works.)

As to why ustedes would be used if les is already in use: for emphasis. You can very well do without it (Ella les cocina). Adding it explicitly simply emphasizes the fact that someone is cooking for you, not incidentally but purposefully, not someone else but you. In this example it could also be useful to avoid ambiguity because les on its own can mean "you" (plural) or "them" (except in Spain, where plural "you" is vosotros).

Some time ago we discussed (but I can't find that question) the equivalence between these and phrases with para:

Ella les cocina a ustedes. ~= Ella cocina para ustedes.

As you see there's no need to use the clitic pronoun in the equivalent phrase.

  • Plural you exists in Spain as both ustedes and vosotros (depending on formality), so the ambiguity still exists. Perhaps, actually, even more so because, speaking generally, Spain is a good bit more informal than in other countries, and as such using les without redundancy means it's very likely things will be misunderstood as referring to ellos/as. (and re a/para, I can't remember the question but I think I may have answered it. Basically, para technically doesn't represent the indirect object, hence it rejects coaparition, even if 98% the time a/para are interchangeable) Jul 19, 2017 at 12:13

Viewed from English perspective 'les' could look redundant, however if we view it from Spanish perspective, it just sounds better if you say "Ella les cocina a ustedes" The word 'les' here makes emphasis that ella (her) cooks for you instead of actually cooking you (boiling you). Saludos!

  • Also, if you only say "ella les cocina" the sentence does not specify the person. this could mean that ella les cocina 'a ustedes' (for you) or 'a ellos/ellas' (for them), this can also be used when the context makes it easy (person is implicit) to understand who is receiving the action in this case, the food that is cooked. Jul 19, 2017 at 5:47
  • 2
    feel free to edit your post appending the valuable info you gave in comments.
    – fedorqui
    Jul 19, 2017 at 7:57

Is this not redundant?

No, it is not redundant because by using ustedes you're specifying to whom is Ella performing the action (cocinar).

If you were to simply use Ella les cocina, the statement would remain a phrase rather than a sentence.

Ella les cocina.

  • Q: A quién le cocina Ella?
  • A: Ella les cocina a ustedes

Ella pudiera cocinar les a ustedes, a ellos o a aquellos. Thats why you specify to whom is She cooking.

  • 2
    Ella les cocina is a perfectly grammatical sentence, I'm not sure why you say it's not. Jul 24, 2017 at 21:45
  • I say so because in spanish a sentence is a phrase with full meaning, without any chance of gramatical misinterpretation. Ella les cocina is a phrase alright, it makes sense, but it's still open to completition.
    – dsc
    Jul 24, 2017 at 21:56
  • 2
    "I say so because in Spanish a sentence is a phrase with full meaning, without any chance of gramatical misinterpretation" [citation needed]. oración … 5. f. Gram. Estructura gramatical formada por la unión de un sujeto y un predicado. (DLE). "Ella les cocina" contains a subject ("ella") and a predicado ("les cocina"), therefore, it is a sentence/oración and not a phrase/locución. Jul 24, 2017 at 22:06

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