Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Personal "A"

Usually in Spanish, a noun that acts as a direct object is joined directly to the modifying verb; however, this is only when the direct object is a thing. When the direct object is a person, or people, then we put an a between the verb and the noun. This is known as the personal a.

There is no English equivalent to this grammar oddity. Notice the following examples with a personal a underlined:

No veo a Juan. I don't see Juan.

Tengo que llevar a mi hermano a la escuela. I have to take my brother to the school.


Some verbs that you might find a person acting as a direct object are esperar (to wait for, to expect), parecerse (to look like), and buscar (to look for), as in the following sentences:

Espero a David en la sala de espera. I'm waiting for David in the waiting room.

Jaime se parece a George W. Bush. Jaime looks like George W. Bush.

Nosotros buscamos a la muchacha que vende faldas. We're looking for the gal that sells skirts.

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