What’s wrong with these translations?

I don’t know
Yo no sé

I want chocolate
Yo quiero chocolate

Verbs “sé” and “quiero” already include subject pronoun “yo”, reason why we don’t need “yo” at the beginning of these Spanish translations.

A more accurate translation would be:

I don’t know
No sé

I want chocolate
Quiero chocolate

If you can read Spanish but think in English, you can easily make this mistake. It might even sound natural to include “yo” as “I” translation.

Here are some words with subject pronoun included:

Sé (I know)
Quiero (I want)
Alérgica (She’s allergic)
Ves (You see)
Sabemos (We know)

In all the above instances, Spanish subject pronouns are conveyed with verb conjugation.

TIP

If you cannot get rid of the subject pronoun when writing your Spanish sentence, write it down with subject pronoun. When you finish writing your sentence, delete subject pronoun. Then, read your sentence aloud. Does it tell you who’s doing the action? If you can identify the subject pronoun without adding it, you don’t need it.

EXAMPLES:

She has two cats, even though she’s allergic to cats.

Ella tiene dos gatos, no obstante ella es alérgica a los gatos. (With subject pronouns)

Tiene dos gatos, no obstante es alérgica a los gatos. (Subject pronouns deleted)

After deleting both subject pronouns, do you still identify who’s doing the action?
Yes. The adjective “alérgica” is telling you that the subject pronoun is “ella”.
You don’t need to add subject pronoun “ella” in this the sentence.

¿Do you see?

¿ ves? (With subject pronoun)

¿Ves? (Subject pronoun deleted)

After deleting subject pronoun, do you still identify who’s doing the action?
Yes. The verb “ves” is telling you that the subject pronoun is “tú”.
You don’t need to add subject pronoun “tú” at the beginning of the sentence.

They went to the party.

Ellos fueron a la fiesta. (With subject pronoun)

Fueron a la fiesta. (Subject pronoun deleted)

After deleting subject pronoun, do you still identify who’s doing the action?
No. The verb “fueron” is not telling you that the subject pronoun is “ellos”.
You need to add subject pronoun “ellos” at the beginning of the sentence.

TIP

If you are going to write in Spanish, focus on the sentence as a whole. Check if subject pronoun is already included. If you can identify who’s doing the action without adding “yo”, tú”, “él”, “ella” or “nosotros”, be almost certain that you don’t need to add the subject pronoun.

But “yo” is not the only Spanish subject pronoun we have. Like in English, we have:

yo – I
tú – you
él – he
ella – she
nosotros – we
ustedes – you
ellos – they
ellas – they

And these are some examples about how to translate Spanish subject pronouns:

I read every day
Leo todos los días.

¿Do you see?
¿Ves?

He’s my brother. He’s a well known physician.
Es mi hermano. Es un médico reconocido.

She has two cats, even though she’s allergic to cats.
Tiene dos gatos, no obstante es alérgica a los gatos.

We don’t know anything about it.
No sabemos nada al respecto.

A LITTLE EXCEPTION

With “ustedes” (you plural), “ellos” and “ellas” ( they masculine and femenine), we might need to add subject pronouns for clarification. Otherwise, we won’t be able to identify sentence subject pronoun. Take a look at “fueron” verb conjugation, it is the same for “ustedes”, “ellos” and “ellas”. If we leave it as:

¿Fueron a la fiesta?

We don’t know if this sentence is referring to “ustedes”, “ellos” or “ellas”.

In these cases, we should include subject pronouns:

You went to the party.
Ustedes fueron a la fiesta.

They went to the party.
Ellos fueron a la fiesta.

They went to the party.
Ellas fueron a la fiesta.

THE REAL EXCEPTION TO THE RULE!

Oh, languages! They all have exceptions. What happens when we want to emphasize who did what? We overlook the rule, and add the subject pronoun. We do this when we want to emphasize who performs the action.

Te digo que yo no fui a la fiesta.
Ella quiere un gato pero yo prefiero un perro.

In these two examples the person wants to call attention to him or herself. They want to make sure we know that they didn’t go to the party, and they prefer to get a dog.

REMEMBER

When in doubt, write it all down! Delete subject pronoun, and read your sentence aloud. Do you still need subject pronoun? If not sure, send me your questions.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

41 More posts in Redacción de marketing sensorial category
Recommended for you
Cómo definir a tu lector ideal

Tienes el producto o el servicio; tienes un buen tema qué escribir. Pero ¿quién quieres...