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I couldn't find the entry in https://dle.rae.es/dile?m=form.

The translators translate it to "tell him". So, it looks like a contraction of a verb and a pronoun. However, I couldn't find anything explaining this so that I could confirm my understanding.

Could someone tell me if it's a single word or a contraction of a verb and a pronoun and explain how this contraction works?

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  • di is the imperative tu (second person singular) form of the verb decir. And le can refer to him or her. Verbs with objects are not in the RAE like that. Sometimes, under the base form entry you might get some of them.
    – Lambie
    Commented Nov 30, 2022 at 17:45

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Yes, "dile" is the result of merging imperative "di" (tell) and the pronoun "le" (him/her).

Because of its position attached to the verb, "le" is called an "enclitic pronoun" (pronombre enclítico).

With affirmative imperative, the pronoun -- if any -- has to be added to the verb and will always be enclitic. In the negative, the subjunctive will be used and the pronoun will be used before the verb:

  • Dile (tell him) / No le digas (don't tell him)
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To complement Gustavson's answer and trying to answer to "how this contraction works", this example illustrates different pronouns and numbers.

I'm using a different verb (dar = to give) that makes sense in all cases:

  • yo -> me: dame = give me
  • tú -> te: date = give yourself
  • él/ella -> le: dale = give him/her
  • nosotros -> nos: danos = give us
  • vosotros -> os: daos = give yourselves/each other
  • ellos/ellas -> les = dales = give them

If you see any of those endings in an unknown word, try removing it before looking it up in the dictionary.

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