Ask a Question

(Create a thread)
Go Back   Spanish language learning forums > Spanish & English Languages > Grammar


Spanish a versus french à?

 

This is the place for questions about conjugations, verb tenses, adverbs, adjectives, word order, syntax and other grammar questions for English or Spanish.


Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old June 23, 2022, 02:29 PM
Debi1 Debi1 is offline
Opal
 
Join Date: Jun 2022
Location: Finland
Posts: 3
Native Language: Finnish
Debi1 is on a distinguished road
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"?)

Last edited by Debi1; June 23, 2022 at 02:34 PM.
Reply With Quote
   
Get rid of these ads by registering for a free Tomísimo account.
  #2  
Old June 23, 2022, 06:10 PM
Rusty's Avatar
Rusty Rusty is offline
Señor Speedy
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: USA
Posts: 11,115
Native Language: American English
Rusty has a spectacular aura aboutRusty has a spectacular aura about
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.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old June 23, 2022, 08:55 PM
Debi1 Debi1 is offline
Opal
 
Join Date: Jun 2022
Location: Finland
Posts: 3
Native Language: Finnish
Debi1 is on a distinguished road
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.

Last edited by Debi1; June 23, 2022 at 09:17 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old June 23, 2022, 09:54 PM
AngelicaDeAlquezar's Avatar
AngelicaDeAlquezar AngelicaDeAlquezar is offline
Obsidiana
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Mexico City
Posts: 8,797
Native Language: Mexican Spanish
AngelicaDeAlquezar is on a distinguished road
@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'."
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.)
__________________
Ain't it wonderful to be alive when the Rock'n'Roll plays...
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old June 23, 2022, 10:06 PM
Rusty's Avatar
Rusty Rusty is offline
Señor Speedy
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: USA
Posts: 11,115
Native Language: American English
Rusty has a spectacular aura aboutRusty has a spectacular aura about
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'.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old June 24, 2022, 05:23 AM
Debi1 Debi1 is offline
Opal
 
Join Date: Jun 2022
Location: Finland
Posts: 3
Native Language: Finnish
Debi1 is on a distinguished road
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rusty View Post
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.
Reply With Quote
Reply

 

Link to this thread
URL: 
HTML Link: 
BB Code: 
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts
BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Site Rules

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Even so versus all the same ROBINDESBOIS Grammar 2 November 30, 2019 06:11 AM
Hubiera versus habría mwtzzz Grammar 3 October 08, 2015 01:56 PM
Eres versus Es elmonorojo Grammar 3 August 12, 2013 04:39 AM
Will French Help my Spanish? LatinLover56 Teaching and Learning Techniques 9 December 18, 2012 03:08 PM
AS versus LIKE ROBINDESBOIS Grammar 11 June 29, 2010 04:21 PM


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 06:48 PM.

Forum powered by vBulletin® Copyright ©2000 - 2022, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.

X