Indirect objects identify the being or thing that gains or loses as a result of the action of the verb, but is not directly affected by the verb in the manner of a direct object. Indirect objects are always introduced by a preposition, which usually is the preposition a.
Some of the typical uses of le/les include:
- receiving or acquiring any thing, impression or sensation
- loss or removal from
- sufficiency, insufficiency, lack, excess
- requesting, requiring, ordering
- many set phrases combining tener plus an emotion (le tiene miedo), although equivalent verbs (temer) may take lo/la
- many set phrases combining hacer and some noun (typically the noun occupies the direct object role)
- to indicate persons or things affect by something done to a part of their body or to some intimate possession
- other cases that may be seen as expressing ideas of 'giving', 'removing', 'benefitting', 'involving', 'affecting intimately'
Indirect objects may either precede or follow their verb, and they may precede or follow the subject of the verb or any other object of the verb. Indirect objects are often accompanied by a matching indirect object pronoun in order to more clearly indicate that they gain or lose by the action of the verb, rather than merely being directly affected by it. "Redundant" pronouns are required when the indirect object precedes the verb; for example, a mi hermano le di ese libro = I gave that book to my brother. They may be either required or optional when the indirect object follows the verb, depending on the verb and the context; for example (le) di ese libro a mi hermano = I gave that book to my brother.