How to use “me” vs. “mi” in Spanish

How to use “me” vs. “mi” in Spanish

by Alison Maciejewski Cortez

Updated August 25, 2023

Let’s talk about my favorite subject: me! Well, not really. Spanish has two words — me and mi — that look like they mean the same thing. But me and mi in Spanish are quite different words, right down to their pronunciation. 

So, what’s the most obvious difference between mi and me in Spanish? Mi is a possessive adjective that translates to “my” in English. Me is a direct and indirect object pronoun as well as a reflexive pronoun that translates to “me” or “myself.” Don’t let the language jargon discourage you. The distinction between me and mi in Spanish is very similar to the distinction between me, myself and my in English. Let’s look at how they are used.

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“Me” vs. “mi”: Differences in pronunciation

The first difference between me and mi is their pronunciation. Unlike English vowels, Spanishvowels never change their sound. They admit only one phoneme for each letter, which means you only need  to master five vowel sounds. English, on the other hand, contains up to 21 possible vowel pronunciations, since the same letter may sound differently depending on its context within a word. 

Here’s how me vs. mi in Spanish are pronounced:

  • Mi – /mee/ – as in the English words me, we, see, and fee
  • Me – /meh/ – as in the English words pet, met, get, and red

How to use mi in Spanish

Let’s start with mi in Spanish because it’s fairly straightforward. Mi is followed by a noun and indicates possession of that noun. In other words, it is a possessive adjective that answers the question, “Whose [object/pet/belonging/person] is it?” 

There are only a few possessive adjectives in Spanish:

Spanish possessive adjectiveEnglish possessive adjective
suher/his/their (singular)/its
su; vuestro/ayour (formal)
sutheir (plural)

Here are some examples of how possessive adjectives are used:

  • ¿De quién es el celular? (Whose cell phone is it?)

Es mi celular, gracias. (It’s my cell phone, thanks.)

  • ¿De quién es el perro? (Whose dog is it?)

Es su perro. (It’s her dog.)

As with the other Spanish possessive adjectives, there is also a plural form of mi when the noun is plural:

  • ¿Dónde están mis zapatos? (Where are my shoes?)
  • Tengo que doblar mis camisas.(I have to fold my shirts.)

How to use me in Spanish

Me is a bit more versatile. Let’s focus on the three key uses of me in Spanish:

  1. Direct object pronoun
  2. Indirect object pronoun
  3. Reflexive pronoun

“Me” as a direct and indirect object pronoun

Let’s look at this example sentence:

  • “I threw the ball to Sam.” 

The ball is the direct object because the verb is acting on it. A direct object pronoun can take the place of the ball: 

  • “I threw it to Sam.”

Sam is the indirect object. The action happens to (or toward) Sam. An indirect object pronoun can take the place of Sam: 

  • “I threw it to him.” 

It’s similar in Spanish. Here are the direct object pronouns:

Spanish direct object pronounEnglish direct object pronoun

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Here are some examples of me used as a direct object pronoun:

  • El perro me mordió. (The dog bit me.)
  • El conductor me atropelló. (The driver ran over me.)

Here are the indirect object pronouns in Spanish:

Spanish indirect object pronounEnglish indirect object pronoun

Here are some examples of me used as an indirect object pronoun:

  • Gabriel no me compró un regalo. (Gabriel didn’t buy me a present.)
  • En vez, yo me compré un regalo. (Instead, I bought myself a present.)

“Me” as a reflexive pronoun

In Spanish, there are some verbs that are “reflexive,” meaning the action is done to oneself. In English, you might say, “I shave (myself)” or “I bathe (myself).”

Some reflexive verbs in Spanish include:

  • Llamarse (to call oneself by a name)
  • Bañarse (to bathe oneself)
  • Cepillarse los dientes (to brush one’s teeth)

Here we use me to talk about the action one does to oneself:

  • Me llamo Alison. (I call myself Alison.)
  • Me baño cada día. (I bathe myself every day.)
  • Me cepillo los dientes dos veces por día. (I brush my teeth twice a day.)

Practice exercises: “Me” or “mi” in Spanish?

Were you able to grasp the difference between mi and me in Spanish? To make sure, let’s go through some practice exercises. 

Choose whether the missing word is me or mi:

  1. Juan ___ llamó ayer. (Juan called ___ yesterday.; direct object pronoun)
  2. El guardia ___ gritó. (The guard yelled at ___.; indirect object pronoun)
  3. No es ___ bolsa. (It’s not ___ bag.; possessive adjective)
  4. ___ mamá está en el salón. (___ mom is in the room; possessive adjective).

Answer key: 1. me, 2. me, 3. mi, 4. mi

“Me” vs “mi” in Spanish is all about me!

Whose object is it? What is it? To whom is it happening? These are the three questions that mi vs me in Spanish answer. Instinctively, we know the answers in English, but understanding the difference between mi vs. me in Spanish is no problem once you get the hang of it. 

Don’t forget the unique aspect of reflexive verbs. ¿Te bañas todos los días? (Do you bathe yourself every day?) Now that you can talk about yourself in Spanish, you’ll be able to assure people that you do, in fact, bathe regularly. Time to use your new vocabulary and make some friends!

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Alison Maciejewski Cortez

Alison Maciejewski Cortez is Chilean-American, born and raised in California. She studied abroad in Spain, has lived in multiple countries, and now calls Mexico home. She believes that learning how to order a beer in a new language reveals a lot about local culture. Alison speaks English, Spanish, and Thai fluently and studies Turkish. Her consulting business takes her around the world and she is excited to share language tips as part of the Lingoda team. Follow her culinary and cultural experiences on Twitter.

Alison Maciejewski Cortez
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