Archive Monthly Archives: December 2015

La A Personal

La A Personal

Have you ever seen an “a” placed after a verb in Spanish and had no clue why it was there in that instance but not others? If the word after the verb refers to a specific person, we use the personal a, or in Spanish, “la a personal.”

  •         The direct object= who/what receives the action of the verb.

Ex: I eat the cake. I eat it.

  •         In Spanish, when the D.O. is a person, we place an a between the verb and the D.O. This concept does not exist in English.

Ex: Voy a llamar a Andrés. = I am going to call Andrés.

  •         Omitting the a personal is culturally rude/ignorant in Spanish.
  •         The a personal can also be used for a domesticated animal like a pet, if the person doing the action has personal feelings for the animal.

Ex: Cepillo a mi gato. = I brush my cat.

  •         The a personal is not used when the D.O. is not a person or an affectionate animal.

Ex: El gato bebe agua.

  •         The a personal is not used after the verbs tener or hay.

Ex: Hay una mujer en el restaurante.

  •         If the D.O. is not a specific person, the a personal is not used.

Ex: Necesito novio.

Practice exercises:

Hear the examples read aloud:

Por vs Para

Por and para is something that I get a lot of questions on, because por and para are frequently used prepositions and they take some getting used to in terms of deciding which is appropriate to use.

Por Para
Expressing gratitude or apology Destination
Multiplication and division Show purpose of a thing
Velocity, frequency, and proportion In order to/ for the purpose of
Through, along, by, or in the area of Indicating a recipient
For exchanges, including sales Deadline or specific time
On behalf of or in favor of Expressing a contrast from what is expected
Length of time “estar para” = an action that is about to be completed
An undetermined or general time, or meaning during ¿Para qué? = For what purpose?
Methods of communication and transportation  
In cases of mistaken identity, or meaning “to be seen as”  
Discussing an errand, using the verb ir, venir, pasar, mandar, volver, preguntar  
Por + infinitive, meaning an action that is in process  
Cause or reason  
“estar por” = to be in the mood  
In passive sentence constructions  
Many idiomatic expressions  
¿Por qué? = For what reason?  


Luckily, the more you practice Spanish and encounter examples of por and para, the more you get a feeling for which one is appropriate in the given situation. However, it is important to know the different uses, because using the wrong one could result in a totally different meaning. For example, Voy por Karin means I am going instead of or on behalf of Karin. Voy para Karin means I am going in order to see Karin. So in the example with por, Karin will not be at the event. In the example with para, Karin is expected to be at the event.

The above chart is a summarization from the resource This is an excellent free resource to learn basic grammatical concepts. Here’s a free quiz to practice por and para:

Questions? Have a specific example that you would like clarification on por/para? Let me know!

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