For lesorton and babsblabs: The "a" here is the personal "a", because although "un hotel" is not literally a person, the context is that she called a person at the hotel. You'll see similar examples with other places/institutions whenever the implication is that the action requires a person.
E.g. "Tienes que llamar al banco" = "You have to call the bank".
I have done a lot of research on this because I really liked your answer, it seemed to make perfect sense, but I kept remembering what I learned on About.com (<http://spanish.about.com/cs/grammar/a/personal_a.htm> ), namely:
The personal a is not used if the object doesn't refer to anyone specific. So I wondered why this exception, and I searched the web for it, but was unable to find anything to support the use of a personal a when calling somewhere because the action requires a person.
What I did find is that the several sites concur that the Personal a is not used when the person to whom you are referring is described using an indefinite noun (in other words, when you don't know if such a person exists or is an unspecific person; when the person we’re talking about could be anyone.)
Necesito un abogado. I need a lawyer (anyone will do).
Juan busca una secretaria. Juan is looking for a female secretary (anyone will do).
Conozco a dos carpinteros, I know two carpenters. But, necesito dos carpinteros, I need two carpenters.
And I found this warning: Do not confuse the Personal A (used with people when they are direct objects) with the Directional A (which is used to point to a place in time or location. Directional A is used with verbs like Ir, Invitar, Ayudar and translates as "to". It is also used with Time to indicate "at what time does the party start?" ¿A qué hora empieza la fiesta?
So, I was hoping you would be able to clear this up. Is this a case of the "call to" llamar a that was referenced by rogerccristie http://www.wordreference.com/es/en/translation.asp?spen=llamar%20a
or, are there more exceptions to the personal a rule than I have been able to find? Any help you can offer is most welcome. :)
For everybody: I think 'llamaba' here does not mean an habitual or frequent action someone 'used to do' but a sole action done, probably when another one was happening at the same time. So here I think we'd better employ the Past Continuous Tense and write : "She was calling a hotel". Well, this is my opinion. Greetings. October 26, 2014.
To Perseph: I am sorry but I have to tell everybody that my comment dated from October 26, 2014 was WRONG and so the duolingo translation to English is CORRECT. In the sentence "Ella llamada a un hotel", the common meaning of 'llamaba' is actually an habitual action someone used to do. The meaning would be "a sole action done, probably when another one was happening at the same time", only if there was (or 'were'?, please, correct me, if necessary) another sentence after the first one. Example: Ella llamada a un hotel, CUANDO LLEGÓ SU HIJA. I hope I have helped. Greetings. August 14, 2015.
Hi alvaro1944. I think you were right the first time.
There is nothing wrong with the translation "She was calling a hotel", as a complete sentence. The imperfect is often used to set the scene for another action - as in your recent example. But it doesn't have to be tied up in a single sentence to be valid.
For example: I walk in to find that my 3 year old daughter has been playing with the telephone, and I ask my wife...
¿Qué hacía ella? (What was she doing?)
To which she replies...
Ella llamaba a un hotel. (She was calling a hotel)
To jonbriden: my opinion NOW, after reading your comments, is that, without CONTEXT, a situation which NEVER exists in duolingo texts, both translations are possible (Ella llamaba a un hotel or she used to call a hotel). And what about my use of the verb to be after "if" [if there was (or were?)]. I'll be grateful to you if you answer me. Greetings. August 16.08.2015.
how long did it take you to learn all the tenses and forms? I am at the overwhelmed point. And mixing up spanish with French when I do french since I am spending so much time on it. But mostly it worries me that I don't remember the endings 2 units away and wonder if it's that I work on it late at night or something. Ive been doing this mid summer to now I think. I really feel that the lack of explanation is making it hard to keep hold of the firm clear imprint of a tense form on my memory. I just wonder if you have this problem. I do not have an idetic memory...that's for sure.
Another way to translate the imperfect into English is to use "would", ie, "She would call the hotel", meaning it was a repeated past activity. I've just finished reading a translation of Madame Bovary and the translator used the "would do" idiom to translate almost all of the French imperfect sentences (As an aside, the way Flaubert injects sentences in present tense into paragraphs that have been riding along on waves of imperfect activity -- ah, I wish I could write like that.)
It appears that it's just something that is required if you follow the verb with a noun.
Here are some examples: http://www.123teachme.com/translated_sentences/sp/llamar
Actually, as elsewhere on this thread, it is only when you follow a verb with a person or something that can stand for a person (an institution, etc.). It is particularly common with "llamar" because you normally only call people or institutions, companies, etc., where it is assumed you will be talking to a person. Naturally, there are also other meanings of the word "llamar."
ALWAYS, ALWAYS remember that the imperfect does NOT imply that the action no longer occurs. That is a serious flaw in the convention to use "used to" to translate the imperfect. The only part of the "used to" that is appropriate for the imperfect is that the action happened more than once, and perhaps routinely. The assumption that it no longer happens is NOT an assumption of the imperfect. If you say you knew the way to get somewhere so you gave directions, that sentence would use one imperfect and one preterite verb in Spanish. You knew the way would be imperfect. No reference is made to how you knew the way, and there isn't an assumption that you don't know the way now. But giving directions is a single finite act which is preterite unless repeated. If you were to put both verbs in the imperfect, it would assume that you were somehow the regular navigator for something or someone. This latter situation is why people tend to add the used to, but again, all it is meant to imply is repetition. We don't know why this person called a hotel repeatedly because Duo never has context. Perhaps someone was staying at hotels and had no other phone. Maybe they had a situation where they had overflow guests repeatedly one summer. It doesn't matter. All this sentence is saying is that at some point in the past she made repeated calls to a hotel. There is nothing further to be known from this sentence. But it might have come out of 100 different scenarios. The rest is all context.
I have the same problem with the present indicative. In my mind "Yo como - I eat" is a translation I can deal with but its hard for me to think of it as Yo bebo - I am drinking or Yo como - I am eating. I would always prefer to use the gerund. Estoy bebiendo or Estoy comiendo. Anyone else have this problem.
"Man does not live by bread alone..." - You won't learn Spanish just by using DuoLingo. It's great for exercises, but to become at all proficient you will need a teacher. You could find classes locally, or take online lessons. Check out BuddySchool, there are lots of Spanish teachers on there.
I disagree. You don't "call to" a place in English (although it's common to hear non-native speakers make this mistake). You don't "call to a hotel", you "call a hotel".
"To call" (in this context) means to use a telephone to contact (someone/somewhere).
"To call to" means to shout to draw attention. For example, "I called to my friend across the street".
If you search Google for "he called the hotel" (as an example) you get 311,000 results, whereas "he called to the hotel" gives 9 (most of them badly written TripAdvisor reviews).
In Spanish, the use of llamar as intransitive verb requires the 'a' to complete the meaning. eg "'llamar a la officina", "llamar a la reunión", "llamar a la desobediencia civil". You are directing the activity of voice, or gesture, or the noise of a bugle towards something. There is a sense of movement. In English this construction is not often used. But I sometimes I say things like "Ï call to the vicar's house", "I call to the school" when I mean I am physically going somewhere and not just calling them on my phone. I am native English speaker of many years and your translation sounds fine to me.
I have a problem translating the past imperfect into english. Etc. Ella llamaba a él. (She use to call him) How will I know when it means (She was calling him). Also from the perspective of me translating my english thoughts into spanish: For example I want to say "I was eating food" I would hesitate to use "Yo comía comida" It would be more natural for me to say " Yo estaba comiendo comida" Its strange for me to think of comía as I was eating, because yo estaba comiendo is a clearer description.
This is not a personal "a" as the "a" is there because it is a required part of the verb phrase "llamar a". You can see the listing of compound forms here:
Jonbriden "You have to call the bank." "She used to call an hotel" have no context to aid in the translation. Its your own assumption, that gives you your translation. Therefore She used to call to a hotel , in order to speak with him, I think should be a correct translation. If it is wrong what is the translation of my sentence?