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How egregious of an error is it to use 'lo' instead of 'le' or vice-versa (for example, saying 'yo le veo' instead of 'yo lo veo')?

In other words, is this more notable of an error than using the wrong gender for a noun? Sometimes I notice that native Spanish speakers confuse the two, but I'm not sure how 'wrong' it sounds to other native speakers.

I would also like to know how silly I sound to others when I make little errors like this. Thanks!

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  • Great question. // Related: spanish.stackexchange.com/questions/20104/… Jul 21 '17 at 3:50
  • "How silly" is a matter of opinion and therefore outside the scope of this forum, but really, I don't think anyone (who is an adult) will think you sound silly if you make little mistakes like these.
    – pablodf76
    Jul 21 '17 at 10:53
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is this more notable of an error than using the wrong gender for a noun?

No. If you use the wrong gender for a word native Spanish speakers are going to notice immediately. On the other hand, as you know, with leísmo and laísmo people may be using the wrong form without noticing. Using the wrong gender is a more blatant error. Leísmo and laísmo are something you can definitely get away with or that may even go unnoticed.

The Spanish version of wikipedia for leísmo has much more info than its English sibling. If you read it you can see how it is described as a "dialectal variation" and it is quite pervasive in certain areas (that you may find listed on the Spanish version of the wikipedia entry. See "dialectos leístas").

It is definitely not a big deal. See how there are even regions that favor these forms.

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    On “Animacy” Marking: Considering that Spanish also has special marking of an "animate" direct object via its “a personal”, it’s no surprise that at least some speakers distinguish an animate masculine direct object via “le” from an inanimate one via “lo”. This may be reinforced by its tripartite “gender” distinction in tonic/non-clitic pronouns: ello/él/ella and esto/éste/ésta, eso/ése/ésa, aquello/aquel/aquella. However Spanish doesn’t resemble the Latin “gender” model as much as it (somewhat) does the Asturian one, with their famous “neutru de materia”.
    – tchrist
    Jul 22 '17 at 17:54

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