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I have 2 questions. I'm pretty sure that the answer to question #1 is "yes," and question #2 assumes that #1 is correct.

  1. Is "nosotros" an indirect object in this sentence?

"Mi hermano prepara la sopa para nosotros."

  1. Assuming "yes" to #1: I've seen a lot of information about how to use indirect pronouns (word order, when you need them, etc.), for example this (from SE) and this (not from SE). A lot of this information involves the word "a."

    For example, according to that first link, I have to say

    Me castigaron a mí."

    and not

    "Castigaron a mí.".

    Are there any similar rules involving other prepositions, like "para"?

    For example, I think I can say this:

    Trabajan para mí.

    and I don't have to say

    Me trabajan para mí.

(Maybe that's because the "mí" in the above two sentences doesn't count as an "indirect object." I'm not totally clear about this. For English, Wikipedia says that sentences (like "I gave salt to the man.") "complicate the traditional typology," and I think I have seen indirect object pronouns substitute for similar prepositional phrases, in places like this. Plus "a" seems like a preposition to me.)

(Maybe I just don't understand how to use the verb "trabajar"; feel free to let me know, but that's not the main point of this question.)

2 Answers 2

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nº - 1 "Mi hermano prepara la sopa para nosotros" Complemento Indirecto (CI) u Objeto Indirecto (OI), "para nosotros". Nunca "para nosotros" podría ser sujeto, ya que el sujeto no puede comenzar por una preposición.

nº - 2 "Me castigaron" / "(Ellos) me castigaron.

En este caso "Me" hace referencia al sintagma "a mí". "A mí me castigaron ellos"

Hay que decir que el sujeto no puede ser nunca, nunca, "Me", ya que es un pronombre personal átono y puede desempeñar la función de Complemento Directo CD, Complemento Indirecto (CI) o ir junto al verbo.

Para saber si "Me" va o se analiza junto al verbo o va separado, hay que realizar la fórmula de la duplicación "A mí" - "A mi me castigaron" como vemos que la oración la admite entendemos que es un elemento que se analiza de forma separada al verbo.

En otro ejemplo imaginemos la oración, "Me arrepiento de todo", si queremos utilizar la fórmula de la duplicación obtenemos "A mi me arrepiento de todo", por lo que que vemos que la oración no admite esta fórmula y entendemos que ,"Me", habría que analizarlo junto al verbo. Algo que no es nuestro caso.

Cuando el sujeto es una persona, y se le pregunta el verbo responde a la pregunta ¿a quien?, pero en general, aunque funcional con personas, no es un procedimiento muy fiable ya que en los casos de elementos no animados, la pregunta a la que responde es ¿qué?. Por ello esto puede confundir y no hay que dejar llevarse por este procedimiento que habitualmente confunde, ya que, ¿qué?, puede hacer referencia a un sujeto no animado, un complemento directo o un atributo.

Así en "Me castigaron", ya podemos descartar "Me" como sujeto.

¿Pero como identificamos la función que tiene "Me"?

No puede ir junto al verbo ya que como hemos visto cabe la duplicación. "A mi me castigaron".

Así aún nos quedan dos posibilidades, que sea Complemento Indirecto o Complemento Directo.

Existe una fórmula en la que prepondera o prevalece el genero femenino. Así en los casos de duda, si la oración admite primero el cambio "a ella", estaremos ante un Complemento Directo.

En la oración " Me castigaron", primero cambiamos "a mí o me" por "a ella".

"A ella la castigaron" - como admite perfectamente esta fórmula - "la" funciona como Complemento Directo y significa que "me" es Complemento Directo.

Si dijéramos;

"A él lo castigaron" - también funciona y podría surgir una duda, pero como he dicho, ante esta aparente duda, el femenino es el que prevalece.

Por tanto "(Ellos) me castigaron";

  • Ellos, seria el Sujeto.

  • me, Complemento Directo

  • castigaron, Verbo

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When you learn Spanish, to know if something is the indirect object, ask the question "Who is receiving the action of the verb?". In your example, its "nosotros". Your example also has a direct object, which is "la sopa".

So the rule is:

  1. "What is receiving the action of the verb?" = Direct object.
  2. "Who is receiving the action of the verb?" = Indirect object.

Normally, indirect objects have the preposition "a, para" (you can use "al" if the noun requires the article "el", example: "Mi hermano le prepara la sopa al juez").

So, answering your question no. 1, yes, "nosotros" is the indirect object.

For your question 2, the difference is in the subject. "Me" is the subject here. You should say "Me castigaron" and not "Me castigaron a mi". The first one is clear, you got punished (by someone). The second one is more confusing, it says "I got punished (by someone) who punished me" (something like that). If you say "a mi", try to be more clear, as you are putting yourself (or whoever you are talking about) in an indirect way.

For your second example, the sentence "Trabajan para mi" already has a tacit subject, which is either "Ustedes" or "Ellos/Ellas", so its grammar is correct. The sentence "Me trabajan para mi" is wrong because "me trabajan" indicates a reflexive action, but with "para mi" indicates someone else is doing it and you are the receiver of the action, so it is not reflexive, hence the contradiction.

Edit: If you think "for me" and "to me", it could be clearer.

  1. They write for me = "Ellos escriben para mi"
  2. They write to me = "Ellos escriben a mi" (which sounds wrong). When you see "a mi", most likely you can change it to "me": "Ellos me escriben". If you come up with a case you use "a mi", most likely you can change it to "Me"+verb.
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  • Thanks @liwuen! That helps a lot. Are you sure that "me" is the subject of "me castigaron"? "Castigaron" is the 3rd-person plural, so I thought that "me" was the object and "castigaron" had a tacit subject (Ustedes/Ellos/Ellas), similar to your explanation of "trabajan para mi".
    – capet
    Nov 17, 2022 at 15:04

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