Quick answer – ‘mi’ is a possessive adjective and translates to ‘my’ in English, whereas the pronoun ‘me’ has a whole array of uses and normally translates to ‘me’ or ‘myself’, depending on context.
So, if you’re feeling a bit confused about these two super common Spanish words, this is your chance to get rid of any lingering doubts once and for all!
Let’s get into the nitty-gritty!
‘Me’ can be used in the following ways –
1. As a “direct object pronoun”.
Me llevaron al parque. = They took me to the park.
2. As an “indirect object pronoun”.
Me dio la pelota. = He gave me the ball.
3. As a “reflexive pronoun”.
Ayer me levanté temprano. = Yesterday I woke up early.
4. As an “ethical dative” (used to add emphasis)
¡Te me vas de aquí! = Get out of here!
‘Mi’ can be used as –
A “possesive adjective”; it ALWAYS translates to ‘my’ in English.
Él es mi abuelo. = He’s my grandfather.
Not to be confused with ‘mí’ (with an accent on the ‘i’) which is a “prepositional pronoun” –
Tengo que ver por mí. = I have to take care of myself.
When to use ‘me’
As a “direct object pronoun”
Simply put, a “direct object” is a word (or phrase) that receives the action of the verb.
So, a “direct object pronoun” is basically used to replace a noun that the verb is directly acting upon.
‘Me’ represents the first person singular (the equivalent of ‘me’ in English) … so, when we use it as a direct object pronoun, we’re indicating that someone or something did something to us (the speaker).
¡Esos niños me empujaron!
Those kids pushed me!
¡Me pegó bien fuerte!
He hit me really hard!
As an “indirect object pronoun”
An “indirect object pronoun” indicates to whom or for whom the action is being done.
When used as an “indirect object pronoun”, ‘me’ can be translated in quite a few different ways –
Ronaldo me reveló la trama de su libro.
Ronaldo revealed the plot of his book TO ME.
Mis papás me enviaron una cafetera nueva.
My parents sent ME a new coffee machine.
Mi primo siempre me aprende lo malo, en lugar de lo bueno.
My cousin always learns bad stuff FROM ME, never the good things.
¡La maestra me quitó a la abeja de encima!
The teacher got the bee OFF ME!
You can also stick ‘me’ (when used as both a direct AND indirect object pronoun) on the end of imperatives, infinitives and gerunds –
Dámelo = Give it to me (imperative)
Dígame = Tell me (imperative)
Está ayudandome = He’s helping me (gerund)
Quiero comprármelo = I want to buy it for myself (infinitive)
We also use “indirect object pronouns” with the verb ‘gustar’ when expressing likes and dislikes –
Me gusta cocinar.*
I like cooking.
*Erika’s note – if you wanna dive deeper into how to use the verb ‘gustar’, definitely check out our article on the topic!
As a reflexive pronoun
When you’re talking about an action you did to yourself, you’ll need to use ‘me’ as a “reflexive pronoun”.
Many reflexive verbs (‘levantarse’, ‘bañarse’, etc.) don’t really have an English equivalent, so there’s often no direct translation –
I took a bath.
Me lavé las manos.
I washed my hands.
Sometimes ‘me’ does translate to ‘myself’ though –
Me consentí con un baño caliente.
I indulged myself with a hot bath.
¡Ojo! (Watch out!) – There are plenty of instances in which ‘me’ seemingly replaces the English ‘I’ …
But ‘me’ NEVER actually translates to ‘I’ in English as it’s not a “subject pronoun” (that would be our ol´ pal ‘yo’).
In these instances, it´s *normally* working as a “reflexive pronoun” and the ‘yo’ is simply omitted because the subject can be inferred from the conjugated verb.
Me desperté demasiado tarde.
I woke (myself) up too late.
As an “ethical dative” (used for emphasis)
Now, don’t be surprised if you come across sentences such as ‘te me lo llevaste’ (or ‘you took it from me’ in English), with THREE different pronouns preceding a verb (yikes!): ‘te’ (‘you’), ‘me’ (‘me’) and ‘lo’ (‘it’).
This is known as an ethical dative in Spanish grammar and, although it’s considered a colloquialism – for example, a better way to phrase this same idea would be ‘me lo quitaste’ or ‘me lo has quitado’– it’s not uncommon for people to use it, especially when emphasizing something.
Does this mean that we can just throw object pronouns into a sentence willy nilly?
Nope. There’s actually a specific order in which they must be placed:
subject pronoun + negation (i.e., ‘no’) + indirect object pronoun + direct object pronoun + conjugated verb
And the “ethical dative”?
Well, it’s used to emphasize the fact that the action will AFFECT or somehow INVOLVE the person talking (or a third party) –
No te me vayas a enfermar.
Don´t get sick (on me).
Una madre a su hija
Colloquial – ¡Te me vas a caer si no tienes cuidado!
Regular – ¡Te vas a caer si no tienes cuidado!
A mother to her daughter
You’ll fall if you’re not careful!
When to use ‘mi’
As a “possesive adjective”
‘Mi’ is always used to indicate possession.
It’s used in the same way as ‘my’ in English, with the only difference being that it has a plural form, ‘mis’, which is used when there’s more than one possession (i.e., with plural nouns).
¿Podrías pasarme mi casco y mis patines?
Could you pass me my helmet and my roller skates?
Un frase con ‘me’ y ‘mi’
Me gustaría presentarte a mis padres y a mi hermano.
A phrase with ‘me’ and ‘mi’ in Spanish
I’d like you to meet my parents and my brother.
Erika’s top tip – keep in mind that ‘mí’ with an accent is NEVER used as a possessive adjective, but instead as a “prepositional pronoun” (i.e., a pronoun used AFTER a preposition), as in ‘a mí no me importa’ (‘I don’t care’).
I hope I’ve managed to clear up any doubts you may have had about ‘me’ and ‘mi’!
If you’re still feeling a bit unsure, I’ve added a little quiz at the end of this article!
Oh, and if you wanna explore other similar looking pronouns in Spanish, I suggest you check out the differences between ‘tú’ and ‘ti’ as well.
‘Me’ vs ‘mi’ quiz
Now let’s test those Spanish skills!
Fill in the blank with ‘me’, ‘mi’ or ‘mis’.
1. ¿Ese libro es tuyo? – sí, es __________ libro de química.
2. ¡__________ encanta tu vestido!
3. ¿__________ podrías pasar el control remoto?
4. Te presento: ellas son __________ amigas, Sandra y Betty.
5. ¡Otra vez perdí __________ celular!
6. ¡Auch! __________ corté con el cuchillo.
7. ¿Puedes preguntarle a __________ mamá si ha visto __________ llaves?
8. Javier __________ compró un helado.
9. __________ levanté demasiado temprano para ser domingo.
10. __________ hermana es también __________ mejor amiga.
7. mi / mis
10. Mi / mi