Using "personal a" in Spanish
The first step in learning how to use personal 'a' is to understand the basic grammar terms 'subject', 'verb' and 'direct object':
1) I see a table.
2) I see Maria.
where 'I' is the subject, 'see' is the verb, and both 'table' and 'Maria' are direct objects. In other words, the direct objects are receiving the action of the verb. And here is the rule for using personal 'a':
When the direct object is a person, it an 'a' is placed in front of it.
So the two sentences above are translated as:
1) Yo veo una mesa.
2) Yo veo a María.
Other examples using the personal 'a':
La madre quiere a su hijo. - The mother loves her son.
Pepe llamó a María. - Pepe called Maria.
Contratamos a 7 empleados más. - We hired 7 more employees.
No veo a nadie. - I don't see anyone.
Notice in the last example that the word 'nadie' represents a person, even though the person isn't there at the time.
Special notes about the personal 'a'
Personal 'a' may be used with domesticated animals (usually a pet):
Quiero a mis gatos. - I love my cats.
The personal 'a' is usually not used after the verbs tener or the verb form hay even if the direct object is a person.
Tengo dos hermanos mayores. - I have two older brothers.
Hay muchos niños aquí. - There are a lot of children here.
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