Do you want to make it “personal?”

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While I was reviewing a strengthening exercise that covered prepositions, I came upon the following post:

Can you give one example of direct object when the 'personal a' is used. It would help us understand the difference between 'hacia' and 'a/al'

and before I finished answering it, I realized my reply had grown into quite a large flower. So, to spare any who might not be interested in my full reply, I decided to do a little pruning and replant the answer here.

If you’d like to see the thread from which this generated, click on the following link:

I go towards him

My edited reply is below:

This reply here is for those who have never heard of the Spanish “personal ‘a,’" or whose knowledge of it may be more like that of a pale petal than that of a sturdy stalk.

First of all, we need to make a distinction between the roles that "a" serves in Spanish. In general, it is a preposition like any other preposition and, consequently, it can be swapped out/replaced/interchanged with other prepositions it is synonymous with. For the preposition "a," those are many and one of them includes "hacia." The others are:

Now, when one refers to the personal "a," "a" is still a preposition, but it is used for a special purpose, and a description of it from a good source will help further your understanding. My source for the following definition comes from Span¡shD!ct:

The personal “a” is used where the direct object of a sentence is a person.

It can also apply to animals you have a personal connection to (but not usually the animal you see at a zoo or in the wild).

Much more could be said about the "personal 'a.'" In fact, Span¡shD!ct has a good page on it. The link to it is below:

Personal "a"

However, if you don’t want to visit that link, let me at least provide the example that the person who wrote the post (that this is a reply to) specifically asked for -- an example of the personal "a." Here are a couple:

Veo a la mujer.
Veo al hombre.

You will need to use the personal "a" at other times as well. For a good resource on when to use it, I highly recommend visiting the following link:

The Spanish ‘A’ and its Many Uses – including the so-called ‘Personal a’

The illustrations are geared toward children, but it is clear and well written, and it is also rather comprehensive. Though it is 48 pages long, it shouldn't take you more than 15 minutes to read (unless you study the concepts as you go).

If you do a search of duolingo discussions, you’ll find a few posts on this topic. A link to one of the better ones is below:

another personal a question

You may find others that are worth reading and if you prefer to learn from videos, below is a link to one that I think does a pretty good job of explaining the Spanish personal “a”:

01049 Spanish Lesson - Personal A

Hope that helps and, as always, if you have anything helpful to add, please post a comment!

May 7, 2016


I appreciate this post. I'm already familiar with the Personal A but reviewing the information never hurts. Personal note, I should really start watching more Señor Jordan videos. As someone who quickly grows bored with grammar books, I would recommend this book, Just Enough Spanish Grammar Illustrated. The book boast some aesthetically pleasing design and illustrations that highlight grammatical ideas. (I should actually finish this book and some others.)


May 9, 2016

Mil gracias, Muy informativo y, que en mi caso, entretenida y útil, gracias de nuevo.

May 9, 2016


May 8, 2016

Thank you very much. Very useful information! On a related note, I do not see the "Prepositions" skill in my language tree (I signed up less than a month ago). Could you send me the screenshot which one you are referring to in the beginning of the post so that I could strengthen it?

January 10, 2017

I don't know if you're still actively using Duolingo. If not, then maybe you'll return one day. Once I lost a really long streak, I decided to take a bit of a break myself, but Duolingo is a terrific resource so it's always in the back of my mind as something worthwhile to return to. I mention this only because it looks as if Duolingo may have undergone some changes since I posted this, so I'm not sure exactly where to refer you in its current structure, but at one point, the Spanish course had a skills level titled


It was the 14th skill level, so you may not have unlocked it yet. If you can't link to the above, let me know and I'll add the screenshot you requested.

BTW, thanks for the comment. Glad you liked it. Best wishes to you on your mastery of the Spanish language!

October 20, 2018
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