Let’s talk about when to use le vs. les in Spanish. A customer emailed me to ask why does the Spanish speaker in the LSLC lesson say:
“Vas a hacerle la cama a nuestras hijas” instead of “vas a hacerles la cama a nuestras
hijas.” In other words, why “le” instead of “les.”
The customer went on to say:
“My understanding is that ‘le’ is an indirect object pronoun and represents ‘on whose behalf’ is the action being performed. Then “le” refers to their daughters “nuestras hijas“.
The customer then wrote:
“OK, so here’s where the confusion comes in …
Shouldn’t the indirect object pronoun agree in number. In other words, you use “le” for “nuestra hija” (our daughter) and “les” for “nuestras hijas” (our daughters)? So why does the Spanish speaker in the LSLC lesson say:
“Vas a hacerle la cama a nuestras hijas” instead of “vas a hacerles la cama a nuestras hijas”
When to Use Le vs. Les In Spanish
I wanted to share this with you because when I was an intermediate-level student of the Spanish language, from the Spanish grammar books, I also learned that the correct phrase is “vas a hacerLES la cama a nuestras hijas” (emphasis added).
In fact, I remember being present in the studio when we recorded the LSLC lessons and I asked the native Spanish speaking actors in LSLC shouldn’t they be saying “vas a hacerles la cama a nuestras hijas” instead of “vas a hacerle la cama a nuestras hijas.” And they simply told me “no”, but without any explanation.
I then asked the LSLC instructor who was present in the studio “shouldn’t the native Spanish speakers in the course be saying ‘vas a hacerles la cama a nuestras hijas’ instead of ‘vas a hacerle la cama a nuestras hijas.'”
And the only thing that she said to me was “do you want the Spanish speakers in your course to speak like native Spanish speakers speak?
Or do you want the Spanish speakers in your course to speak like the person who wrote your Spanish grammar book whose is probably some Anglo American?”
That wasn’t quite the answer that I was looking for . . .
But after years of traveling to a handful of Spanish speaking countries and living in Colombia for many years, I realized that this “error” among Spanish speakers is so common in both Latin America and Spain, that Spanish speakers don’t consider it “wrong.” In fact, it is the common and accepted way of speaking colloquial Spanish.
If you are a beginner student, I wouldn’t worry too much about this now. But if you are an intermediate or advanced student, you should be aware of this. And here’s a link to an article where you can find out more about this topic of Why Spanish Speakers Use Le Instead of Les When The Rules of Spanish Grammar Suggest That Les Is Correct: