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-   -   Spanish a versus french à? (http://forums.tomisimo.org/showthread.php?t=28089)

Debi1 June 23, 2022 02:29 PM

Spanish a versus french à?
 
Hello,

Novice in spanish here. After becoming quite fluent in french over the years, one of the more striking differences between spanish and french was the use of the preposition "a" and "à". As you may know, the preposition is rarely used in french for direct objects. Example: "I hug my friend" = "J'embrasse mon ami."

In Spanish, however, the preposition "a" is frequently used for direct objects. Example: "I hug my friend" = "Abrazo a mi amigo", which is very counterintuitive for a french speaker. Unless the "a" is a subject marker (ie. not unlike in japanese), I don't see why it's useful. The french do just fine without it! (Apart from some odd cases, such as, "I reproach George for being late." = "Je reproche à George d'être en retard" which I surmise might pertain to the nominalization of "being late"?)

Rusty June 23, 2022 06:10 PM

That little word is quite versatile in Spanish.

Some verbs are followed by the preposition 'a' (it isn't introducing a verb complement (direct or indirect object) in this case; it goes with the verb).

A verb complement can be preceded by 'a'.
Indirect objects are ALWAYS preceded by it.
Spanish grammar allows flexible placement of subject and verb complements. It is quite valid to place the subject where we English speakers would expect a direct object. At times, the two need to be distinguished, and placing 'a' before the direct object fills this need.

A prepositional phrase may begin with 'a'.

Lastly, the so-called personal 'a' is used in Spanish. This is used when the direct object is a person (or a personified animal/thing).
You have honed in on this, the personal 'a'. You're right, it doesn't exist in French. It doesn't exist in English, either.
It looks like an extra word that can't be translated. And that's exactly right! But the Spanish demand its use.

Debi1 June 23, 2022 08:55 PM

As for the french, I might be overthinking it, and "Je reproche à George d'être en retard" evoke a dative case plain and simple. ("lui" for a personal pronoun becomes à for a noun). But I don't think spanish personal "a" has anything to do with the dative case (ie. "I give my friend a hug"), because you can substitute the noun for a personal pronoun, "lo abrazo", and that's not dative case, and "my friend" would no longer remain the direct object.

AngelicaDeAlquezar June 23, 2022 09:54 PM

@Debi: In French you have a verb followed by a certain preposition and that never changes.
In Spanish, sometimes you have an "a" preceding a person with the same verb that won't take it with a thing. You can have "a" with a direct object; this is called the "personal a". An old teacher explained it to me like this: "you show respect for the person by putting an intermediary between them and the action; you can eat the person, but you still show respect for them by using 'a'." :D
Example: You could say: "la bruja se comió un sapo" (the witch ate a toad), but "la bruja se comió a los niños" (the withch ate the children).

Some more examples:
- Llevé el coche al taller. (I took the car to the shop.)
- Llevé a mis hijos a la escuela. (I took the children to school.)

- Encontraron los libros perdidos. (They found the lost books.)
- Encontraron a los turistas perdidos. (They found the lost tourists.)

- Trajimos un pastel a la fiesta. (We brought a cake to the party.)
- Traje a mi novio a la fiesta. (I brought my boyfriend to the party.)

Rusty June 23, 2022 10:06 PM

I hug my friend. (Subject=I, Verb=hug, Direct Object=my friend)
I give a hug to my friend. (Subject=I, Verb=give, Direct Object=hug, Indirect Object=to my friend)

The Spanish personal 'a' is only used when the direct object (accusative case) is a person (or something personified). This 'a' is not the same as the preposition 'a' used to introduce an indirect object (dative case).

Abrazo a mi amigo. (The personal 'a' is used with the direct object, because it refers to a person.)
Lo abrazo. The direct object pronoun is not preceded by a personal 'a'.

Abrazo a mamá. La abrazo.
Abrazo a Marco. Lo abrazo.


Doy un abrazo a mi amigo.
(The direct object (abrazo) is not a person, so it isn't preceded by a personal 'a'.) (The indirect object (a mi amigo) is ALWAYS introduced with the preposition 'a', which is translated into English as 'to'.)

Perhaps some of the examples on this page will help solidify the concept of the personal 'a'.

Debi1 June 24, 2022 05:23 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Rusty (Post 184984)
The Spanish personal 'a' is only used when the direct object (accusative case) is a person (or something personified). This 'a' is not the same as the preposition 'a' used to introduce an indirect object (dative case).

Abrazo a mi amigo. (The personal 'a' is used with the direct object, because it refers to a person.)
Lo abrazo. The direct object pronoun is not preceded by a personal 'a'.

Abrazo a mamá. La abrazo.
Abrazo a Marco. Lo abrazo.


Doy un abrazo a mi amigo.
(The direct object (abrazo) is not a person, so it isn't preceded by a personal 'a'.) (The indirect object (a mi amigo) is ALWAYS introduced with the preposition 'a', which is translated into English as 'to'.)a'.

That's what I meant, I think. Only you put it in better words.


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