Grammar & Vocabulary

La “a” personal

1885_-_Black_Bear_Hotel_-_Front_Desk
«El recepcionista del hotel recibe a los huéspedes». / PUBLIC DOMAIN

Here is a short reminder about using the “personal a” in Spanish.

Rule: whenever the object of a verb is a person (or a pet), we must add “a” between the verb and the object.

What’s an object?

An object is an entity that receives the action of the verb.

Can all verbs have an object?

No. Certain verbs don’t usually accept objects. Here are some examples:

Arrive (you can’t “arrive something,” you can’t “arrive someone”)
Sneeze (same)
Laugh (same)

Many verbs, however, do accept objects. And these objects can be either things or people. Some verbs can only accept things as objects:

Eat (an apple)
Buy (a car)
Cook (vegetables)
Etc.

Some verbs can only accept people as objects:

Call (Peter)
Meet (Mary)
Greet (the client)

Some verbs can accept either a thing or a person as an object:

Love (Sarah) (this table)
Take (the train) (my friend to a restaurant)
Visit (a town) (my cousin)

In Spanish, whenever we are using a verb from the last two categories with a person as an object, we must add “a” in between:

I call Peter. Llamo a Peter.
I met Mary last night. Conocí a Mary ayer por la noche.
She greets the clients. Ella recibe/saluda a los clientes.
I love Sarah. Amo a Sarah.
I took my friend to a restaurant. Llevé a mi amigo a un restaurante.
I visited my cousin. Visité a mi prima.

Practice

Translate the following sentences into Spanish:

1. I don’t understand this.

2. Do you want to buy this house?

3. I call my friend every Monday.

4. She eats an apple.

5. They love their apartment.

6. Peter met Marissa last year.

7. I don’t understand my friend Francisco.

8. You love Elisa.

9. I visited Mario in California last week.

 

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Correct answers for “Practice:”
1. No comprendo esto; 2. ¿Quieres comprar esta casa?; 3. Llamo a mi amigo/a cada lunes; 4. Ella come una manzana; 5. Ellos/as aman su apartamento; 6. Peter conoció a Marissa el año pasado; 7. No comprendo a mi amigo Francisco; 8. Tú amas a Elisa/Usted ama a Elisa; 9. Visité a Mario en California la semana pasada.

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