In Spanish, if a verb is transitive does it always need to be accompanied with a direct object/direct object pronoun? For example, see the following sentence:

Los países ricos extraen más que dan a los países pobres.

I wrote the sentence myself and am trying to say "Rich countries extract more than they give to poor countries". In the context of the rest of the paragraph it is obvious that the "thing" that is being extracted and given is money. In English, we can use a transitive verb such as "extract" or "give" without stating the direct object (as seen in my English translation above) but can that be done in Spanish? For instance, do I need to say "Los países ricos lo extraen más que lo dan a los países pobres" (the "lo" being "dinero").

The sentence may be incorrect in various ways and you are very welcome to correct it but I would be very grateful if you would include an explanation of the use of direct object/direct object pronouns with transitive verbs in your answer.

2 Answers 2


The same topic was asked in this thread of Instituto Cervantes

The answer was

El verbo transitivo puede omitir su complemento directo sin dejar por ello de ser verbo transitivo [...] Ejemplo: Los leopardos cazan de noche.

Which can be translated to

A transitive verb can omit its direct object without becoming by this cause an intransitive verb [...] Example: Leopards hunt by night

Cazar [to hunt] is a transitive verb and that sentence is perfectly valid. Probably in its context what we want to highlight is the moment of the day in which they hunt and not what they exactly hunt [direct object].

Your sentence is perfectly fine. "Lo" would be used only if you have mentioned in a previous sentence what is being extracted.


The sentence as written is not correct, not because of the absence of the direct object (which, as explained in the other reply, can be implicit) but because of the form of the verb after the comparative. You should say:

  1. Los países ricos extraen más que de lo que dan a los países pobres.

We should use an infinitive immediately after "más que", but then some other changes would be necessary:

  1. Más que dar(les), los países ricos extraen (recursos) de los países pobres. (We tend to use the "más que + infinitive" at the beginning of the sentence.)

In the sentence above, there is the complexity that the two verbs involved take different prepositions:

  • dar a los países pobres
  • extraer de los países pobres

If the same preposition were used, it would be much easier:

  1. Más que dar, los países ricos explotan a los países pobres.

It is worth adding that, while "más que" has a quantitative value in (1), it is reformulatory in (2) and (3). What I mean to say is that in (2) and (3) it is not the quantity given or obtained that is at stake, but the very action involving both types of countries.

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