The Personal “A”

When the direct object of a verb is a specific person (instead of a pronoun), you have to write the prepositional article a before the person, whether you have a preposition there in English or not. Basically, use the personal a whenever a person follows directly after a verb in a sentence. The only exceptions to this are with the verb hay and the verb tener. You can also use the personal when the noun is a domesticated animal–something that a person might consider part of the family, for example. You do not use the personal for any other animal, for a nonspecific person, for places, etc.

For example:

Conozco a Maria.                          I know Maria.
Ellos miran a Juan.                      They look at Juan.
Ella llama a su hermano.           She calls her brother.
Yo peino a mi gato.                       I comb my cat.

Yo conozco Paris.                         I know Paris.
Ella llama el doctor.                    She calls the doctor.
El miro el león.                             She looks at the lion.


Want some practice for what you learned? Try our exercise for the personal “a”!

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