Portuguese Grammar Reference ("QuickGrammar")
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>>Portuguese Pronouns > Indirect Object

The indirect object pronouns indicate the secondary object of a verb. These pronouns stand in for the person or people receiving the indirect impact of an action. In the sentence he spoke to me, the word to me acts as the indirect object. When using a word like at, with, for, about, or from, you will instead need to use a prepositional pronoun.

An indirect object pronoun can stand in for any one of the subject pronouns.

Indirect Object Pronouns

singular Portuguese English
1st person me to me
2nd person te to you (tu)
3rd person lhe to him, to her,
to you (você, o senhor, a senhora)
plural    
1st person nos to us
2nd person vos to you (archaic)
3rd person lhes to them,
to you (vocês, os senhores, as senhoras)

Note that the pronouns lhe and lhes represent a variety of subject pronouns, so a quick review of those pronouns will answer most of your questions.

If your subject and indirect object are the same, as in he gave it to himself, be sure to use the similar set of reflexive pronouns.

The action words that you will use with the indirect object pronouns are called intransitive verbs. These verbs allow the action to secondarily affect the object. For example, John sees you directly affects you, whereas Mary gives it to you distances you from the action (the indirect object here is (to) you). Ele me dá means he gives to me and vocês lhe falam means you speak to him/her. The QuickGrammar also offers more information on using verbs.

You can combine indirect and direct object pronouns in Portuguese to say a phrase like he gives it to me. You can combine any of the above indirect object pronouns with the appropriate form of o, a, os, or as that represents your direct object.

Indirect Object Pronoun with o, a with os, as
me mo, ma mos, mas
te to, ta tos, tas
lhe lho, lha lhos, lhas
nos no-lo, no-la no-los, no-las
vos vo-lo, vo-la vo-los, vo-las
lhes lho, lha lhos, lhas

The meanings of these contracted pronouns are not at all corrupted by this process. Mo has the meaning of me to me + o he, she, it, you. This process also shows you that indirect objects (like lhe) are placed before direct objects (like os) in Portuguese. You can now conclude that ele mo dá means he gives it to me.

Although it might seem logical, it sounds strange to a Portuguese-speaker to contract the reflexive pronoun se himself, herself, yourself, themselves, yourselves with o, a, os, and as. In fact, se should not be used with direct object pronouns at all. Rather than saying "ele se o diz" he says it to himself, try ele se diz isso he says that (or it) to himself. Refer to the section on demonstrative pronouns for more information on this and that.

These pronouns can occupy a number of positions in a sentence. You will find them before a verb, after a verb, and even between verbs. In Portugal, you may begin a phrase or sentence with  ele mo dá he gives it to me (where the he is stressed), but you must use the form dá-mo when you do not wish to stress the subject pronoun ele. In Brazil, both ele mo dá and mo dá are accepted, but dá-mo sounds both slightly literary and European. The QuickGrammar includes more rules on the specifics of using pronouns with verbs, and how these constructions differ in Brazil and Portugal.