You say that now, but later on I'll be saying, "Sure would be nice if we had some grenades, doncha think?"
I got notified of this comment in my email, and I immediately thought, "I'll bet that was a comment for me. Gotta go look." lol
This is a prepositional a that is used with matar to indicate what is being killed, this is not a personal a.
I'm not following you. How does 'a' indicate what is being killed? Are you saying that 'a' is always to be used with the verb 'matar' (some verbs are just constructed so they are always used with 'a' or 'de')
This may be one of those distinctions of no difference, but technically (according to the RAE Grammar), the purpose of the a following matar is a preposition signalling the objective case (here is the thing being killed). Since matar is used with things that can be killed, in practice it behaves largely like a personal a and is generally explained as one.
The problem is that a phrase like para entrar en el club, tienes que matar una persona cualquiera is grammatically correct without the a, and cuando consiguen matar a un árbol is also acceptable for some with the a.
Most of this usage will depend upon the region and subject, but if you consider it like a personal a you will always be in the right.
If you are interested, there is a whole subfield of Spanish linguists who try to explain Differential Object Marking (why some things don't get the a) from whom I stole this explanation:
I have a somewhat different question, Alphonso, which you may be able to answer. I do understand the difference between esto and este/esta, but I have generally assumed that esto is basically used for a more abstract This. So my question is in real life with all its context, how likely would someone be to use the neutral form. Would it have to imply that the object was not recognized and therefore was not associated with a gendered noun or is a scenario not an object per se (like tripping and falling into something dangerous) or would just not having previously named the known object as la espada, la pistola, or el cuchillo be enough to allow the use of the neuter form.
There is no hard rule, instead deploying the neuter is a matter of usage. If the referent noun is not already in the sentence to lend its gender, or in such close proximity to the phrase that it is functionally a part of it, then that triggers the neuter. Mostly the neuter is the default for objects and abstractions: since they have no essential gender it is weird to refer to them as gender when they aren't in the sentence. Similarly it sounds weird to refer to something nominally gendered (el edificio) as neuter later in the same sentence, so it is gendered when in proximity (este).
If something can be killed, it is animate (animal, person, beast, or something in between like the Loch Ness monster), so I understand the argument that the A could be a "personal a". But jindr004's comments (above and below) are much more cogent that my silly opinion.
You are neither right nor wrong here. The reason I can't give you a straight answer is that there really is no such thing as the "personal a" in the sense that there are set grammatical rules for usage. I tried to suggest this with the mention of the RAE, but since we know each other and I know that you are working on the grammar rules, I will give it to you straight and it should clear up a lot of confusion.
There is no "personal a".
The "personal a" is an invention of Spanish teachers to help learners get past the apparent anomaly of a preposition in an unexpected location. Spanish speakers do not reference through English usage, and so that a after the noun just naturally directs the action as any preposition would. For that reason Spanish grammars never refer to anything like a "personal a" (or a personal), they do however have a class of "preposiciones sin significado léxico" that these apparent extra words fall under.
The "personal a" is just one of dozens of little rules that exist only to guide English speakers in Spanish grammar. The problem is that at some point everyone who gets more than a basic exposure quickly learns that these rules have exceptions and irregularities that are apparently arbitrary. These exceptions only exist because these rules encourage learners to continue filtering native Spanish grammar through English, which is like using a statistical program to write a novel: you can do it, but it takes a lot more effort.
Admittedly most of the rules are actually useful in a general sense (in the same way that the rule "i before e except after c" is kind of useful). They are, however, often misunderstood (the "abstract nouns get the definite article" rule is a classic), or are occasionally more complicated than just learning the usage (the personal a is very much one of those). The reaction of most learners is to shrug and just skip over the irregularities, learning to speak fluently by dropping the crutch when it fails them and ignoring the rule as they gain a sense of the real usage. That is the ideal path. Then there are those who try to make the rule work, despite the obvious problems. This explains maybe 90% of the "personal a" discussion here on duo.
You may have noticed that when I am feeling particularly optimistic about someone's response (or especially Quixotic) I will try and explain why this dogmatism about these "rules" is a problem. I have become pretty good at explaining away the "abstract noun" issue, but I fear the slap fight that will follow in the wake of exposing the personal a as a fraud. For some people, the rules are the language (to see this in action see my comments to hennievk1 on this thread).
I really hope this helps you, and sorry about tus vacaciones matando a tu racha de duolingo :)
It's called the 'personal a'. You use it when you're talking about a person or a personalized animal.
But isn't it supposed to be for people or animals that are 'close' to you? That is, are related or have an emotional connection?
I do think that should be the case but apparently humans are infinitely important, no matter what their relation to you. :P That's just the way it is, really. So, even if you're talking about your sister's dog-carer's second cousin's pen pal's pet chicken's gravestone creator's mother's physiotherapist's friend's uncle... the personal a is still there ;)
I get that, but... this seems to me like it's not talking about a specific man. This sounds like it means THIS (whatever it is) is capable of killing someone (an unspecified person) so wouldn't you be able to leave out the "personal a"?
think of it as a "directional" "a", so there is no ambiguity about who is killing and what is being killed
I have a really hard time hearing some words in speech like "a un" here, anyone have tips of picking them out? All I hear is bleh hombre
It's another one of them ol' funky Cypress Hill things You know what I'm sayin?
That would be "esto podía matar a un hombre". Can ≠ could (in English or Spanish)
Great point. In English, we use "can" and "could" casually in conversation. For example, Can you go to the store for me? Could you go to the store for me? They strictly mean different things.
"Aquí hay algo que no puede entender, cómo podría apenas matar a un hombre."
Actuando tipo de loco yo soy otro local
Niños de la calle me pagaran por mi voz....?
...yes because this sentence will come up in everyday conversation casually which is why i need to know this... (i'm just bitter cause i got this wrong)
"I once killed a man in his sleep with his moustache and a grape" Who remembers this?
The slow version of this audio sounds like "makar" but sounds fine at normal speed
holds up my mixtape
Esto puede matar a un hombre Esto puede matar una araña I understand from the discussion it's best just to learn all exceptions instead of trying to formulate a rule for the use of "a"
The personal a may be hard for students to remember to use, but it is not something that has a complex rule or a lot of exceptions. Basically if the direct object of a sentence is a person you always use the personal a. This particular sentence might appear to belong to the category of an indefinite person which does not require the personal a, but this sentence does create some sort of personal connection with the unknown man. It doesn't take long to get an understanding of the difference once you examine the use. As for the spider, the personal a is always used for one's own pets and generally used for dogs and cats in general because we recognize them as part of our community in some way. But people seldom have such feelings toward spiders. I haven't seen many children's shows in Spanish, but I would assume that if Esto puede matar una araña were part of a Spanish language presentation of a story like Charlotte's Web said by one of the fsrm animals, that it would be phrased as Esto puede matar a una araña, just as they surely would say Esto puede matar a Charlotte.
But: " Esto puede matar una araña." Shouldn't it be : " Esto puede matar a una arańa?" A spider is a living being, and "a" should apply to it. Is it merely a typo, or is there some rule behind this?
The personal a is not for all living beings. It is for people or pets. So if this sentence were a line from the Spanish version of Charlotte's Web, you might see matar a una araña, but that's because Charlotte is a personified spider who you use the personal a. But most animals, and certainly those that can be considered pests and not pets, do not use a personal a.