The preposition a before a direct object in Spanish

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The preposition a before a direct object

Reminder: generally, we do not use the preposition a to introduce a direct object.

Lleva los libros a la biblioteca.

She takes the books to the library

No conozco España.

I don't know Spain.

However, we do use it to talk about:

  • Specific, identified people and animals; and with indefinite pronouns referring to people (alguien, alguno, nadie, todos, etc.).

Vi a Juana en el restaurante.

I saw Juana at the restaurant.

Recogí a la hija de Miguel en el colegio.

I picked up Miguel's daughter from school.

Sacaron a la gente de la fiesta.

They took people out from the party.

Llevé a mi perro al veterinario.

I took my dog to the vet.

No necesito a nadie.

I don't need anyone.

  • Collectives and personified things.

Multaron a la empresa.

They fined the company.

Voy a llamar al colegio.

I'm going to call the school.


  • Generally, we don't use a before non-identified people, except when they go with mirar (to look, to watch), observar (to observe), escuchar (to listen to), oír (to hear) and verbs that express physical or psychological effects, like admirar (to admire), amar (to love), empujar (to push), saludar (to greet), etc.

Escucha a los mayores cuando hablen.

Listen to older people when they talk.

Nacho siempre saluda a las personas en la calle.

Nacho always greets people in the street.

  • The preposition a is optional with verbs like buscar (to search, to look for), necesitar (to need), preferir (to prefer), querer (to want), ver (to see) and conocer (to know), depending on whether we are talking about someone in particular.

Busco a un médico (= tengo un médico en particular en mente).

I'm looking for a doctor (= I have a particular doctor in mind).

Busco un médico (= no pienso en nadie en particular).

I'm looking for a doctor (= I'm not thinking of any in particular). 

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