The Personal “A” in Spanish – Common Ground International Language Services

The Personal “A” in Spanish

Personal A in Spanish

If you’re anything like me (as a Spanish learner), it’s the pesky little words that can leave you feeling a little confused and frustrated at times. The personal “A” in Spanish is one of those words that doesn’t have an equivalent in English, and therefore it’s challenging to remember to add as you’re speaking Spanish.

Of course you hardly notice it when listening to someone speak, or reading Spanish… it just makes sense. Since one of your goals is to improve how you speak Spanish, let’s take a look at the Personal “A” in Spanish and see if we can help you make sense of it. We use the personal “A” in Spanish when a subject is doing an action to an object.

Check out the Personal A video for a detailed explanation and examples:

Download the lesson notes to follow along:

Some examples of the Personal “A”

Actions done to a person:

  • La pediatra examina a la paciente. (The pediatrician examines the patient.)
  • La mam√° mira a su hija. (The mom watches her daughter.)
  • La paciente no mira a la doctora, (The patient doesn’t look at the doctor,)

Actions done to an inanimate object:

  • La doctora escucha el coraz√≥n y los pulmones. (The doctor listens to the heart and lungs.)
  • La doctora examina los ojos, los o√≠dos, la boca y la garganta. (The doctor examines the eyes, ears, mouth and throat.)
  • Ella mira los instrumentos que la doctora usa. (She looks at the instruments that the doctor uses.)

When is the Personal A required?

Technically: When the direct object is a person

Practically: When a subject does an action to / onto another person

More examples of the Personal A

Actions done to a person – requiring the Personal A:

  • La enfermera lleva a su paciente a radiograf√≠a. (The nurse takes her patient to radiology.)
  • El t√©cnico de radiograf√≠a recibe a su paciente. (The Xray tech receives her patient.)
  • El doctor informa a la paciente del diagn√≥stico. (The doctor informs the patient of the diagnosis.)
  • La paciente escucha al doctor. (The patient listens to the doctor.)

Actions done to an inanimate object – no Personal A:

  • La enfermera lleva su identificaci√≥n en el cord√≥n. (The nurse wears her ID on the lanyard.)
  • El t√©cnico de radiograf√≠a recibe las instrucciones del doctor. (The X-ray tech receives the instructions from the doctor.)
  • El doctor lee las radiograf√≠as. (The doctor reads the X-rays.)
  • La paciente hace preguntas para entender mejor. (The patient asks questions to understand better.)

Want to learn more about direct objects in Spanish? Here is a quick course to help you get them straight…

Direct and Indirect Objects in Medical Conversations

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