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SpanishSpeaker32, here is a link about the personal A.
The personal A doesn't really translate into English. It's used before an object when the object is a person (with a few exceptions of course.) This can be pretty helpful because Spanish subjects and objects can go at the beginning and end of a sentence. Word order wont determine who's the subject and who's the object. The personal A helps point out who is receiving the action.
The best general rules for me to follow from that website you provided was this: * In Spanish, when the direct object is a person, it is preceded by the preposition "a." The personal "a" may also be used if the direct object is a domesticated animal, especially a pet. If the direct object is not a person or pet there is no prepositional "a". Esta sección me ayudo mucho, gracias MissSpell.
spanishspeaker- As family is representative of persons, you use the personal A. Another exemple, iglesia and Iglesia, the first one is the church, the building. The second, with the capital letter, is the organisation/institution of the religion. Admiro la iglesia, no personal A, I admire the church, the building. Admiro A la Iglesia, I'm telling that I admire the institution of the chuch, the religion. So, it implies that in the institution, there are people behind IT. I hope my English is ok to help you understand.
Hi mitaine56, thanks for posting this. It's very helpful. I'm still a little confused however. In my previous question I was incorrect because i translated 'He knows women' as 'Él conoce a mujeres'. Since 'women' is representative of a group of people shouldn't this be correct by your above logic? How is that use of 'a' different from your church institution example? Muchas gracias,
To add what other people have said, personal "a" is used with people, domesticated animals as well as geographical places. Exceptions to geographical places are places that already have "la", "el", "los", or "las" in front of them. For example, 'miro las Bahamas' has no personal "a". But 'miro a mexico' does.