Reviewing the Personal A
As you already know, a may be translated as “to” and is sometimes used as a preposition of direction. For example:
|¿Adónde van?||Where are you all going?|
|Vamos a la playa.||We are going to the beach.|
However, when discussing it with respect to persons as direct objects, a doesn't really have a translation. It is used for nothing more than to indicate which person is the direct object. Take a look at how this plays out with the verb mirar (to look, look at):
|Miro a mi esposa, a mi hija, y a mi hijo.||I look at my wife, daughter, and son.|
|Miro la cartelera encima del edificio.||I look at the billboard on top of the building.|
See? No personal a is needed for an inanimate object, la cartelera. Here are a few more examples:
|Esperaba el bus.||I was waiting for the bus.|
|Esperaba a Beti.||I was waiting for Betty.|
|Visité el museo.||I visited the museum.|
|Visité a mi mamá.||I visited my mom.|
|Escucho la música.||I listen to the music.|
|Escucho al sacerdote.||I listen to the priest.|
There are some exceptions to keep in mind for the use of the personal a. Keep the following points in mind:
Animals may take a personal a if they have some emotional tie or relationship to the speaker. For example: Amo a mi perrito. (I love my dear/little dog.) but, Ví un perro. (I saw a dog.)
Direct objects used with ser, tener, and hay (there is/are) are not preceded by a. For example: Soy Rodolfo (I am Rodolfo). Tengo tres primas. (I have three cousins.)
Only “concrete” personal direct objects are preceded by a; object abstracts of persons are not. For example: Busco un hombre inteligente, fiel, y muy divertido. (I am looking for an intelligent, faithful, and very funny man.)
Using the Personal A
Translate the following sentences, and remember to add a personal a where it is appropriate. Use your English-to-Spanish and Spanish-to-English dictionary to look up words you don't already know. Then, check your answers.
1. I see Ignacio, Amanda, and Pedro.
2. Who(m) do you (informal, singular) love?
3. They have a daughter.
4. I am a citizen of the United States.
5. I love my cat.