Apologies if this has been asked before!

I know French fairly well and pronouns are mandatory. However, in Spanish, pronouns are dropped quite often. Is there a rule of thumb for this? E.g. are pronouns only used for emphasis? Do they distinguish between formal and informal language?

E.g. When would I use


And when would I use

Yo como.

  • This is a very general question. I'd say it depends on many things. Your examples are also very uncommon. To the question "¿qué estas haciendo?" if your answer is "como" it would sound quite rude. "Yo como" would be only rude. "[yo] Estoy comiendo" would sound a lot better. I think you should edit your question and be more specific.
    – DGaleano
    Commented Nov 28, 2017 at 13:34

1 Answer 1


Subject pronouns are indeed used for emphasis so in your example you want to emphasise that it is you who eat. They are also used, especially in the third person, if otherwise it would be ambiguous whether it is he, she, or you formal who is the subject. Object pronouns are usally not dropped. If you are learning as a native speaker of English you would probably do better to drop when in doubt as using the subject pronoun unnecessarily will sound odd though everyone will understand you.

  • Actually the pronoun in Spanish is almost always dropped when its used as the subject of the sentence. this is one of the advantages of having one specific conjugation for all the different pronouns.
    – Mike
    Commented Nov 28, 2017 at 21:33
  • we even drop the pronouns intuitively, and even sometimes this causes confusion for not using the "ellos" or "ustedes" as they both have the same conjugation (this is the reason why in some places the use of "vosotros" is still valid as a way to avoid this confusion)
    – Mike
    Commented Nov 28, 2017 at 21:38

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