1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Spanish
  4. >
  5. "Usted puede buscar al gato."

"Usted puede buscar al gato."

Translation:You can look for the cat.

April 13, 2013

82 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jefffaust

Why 'al gato' here instead of 'el gato'?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/rocko2012

My guess it is the personal "a" if the cat is considered a pet. (al = a + el)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AndreasWitnstein

The prepositional accusative ‘a’ is used for any definite direct object that's animate, not just for pets. The term “personal ‘a’” is a misnomer, unfortunately widespread and entrenched like many a false rumor.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jindr004

This is consistent with "buscar al perro" in another lesson, and when I asked mi esposa she said buscar al gato, al perro, and el coche. The object of the search having a personality matters.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Isenhatesyou

So if the cat was not a pet, you would say buscar el gato?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Daniel-in-BC

That's what I had always been taught and apparently I was taught wrong. It's been a hot topic around here in the DL comments.

The "personal a" is used almost always when the object of the sentence is animate, especially the higher orders of animals. Flies (moscas) maybe not ...


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jfGor

That's not what all the Spanish grammar books say. I have not seen an example of where any ole animate direct object would require the personal 'a'; Come on, would you really use the personal 'a' with a cockroach? You were not taught wrong! There is one specific user on Duo that insists that one would indeed use the personal 'a' if the direct object were a bug or anything that was animate. IMHO, I totally disagree. I have seven text books and not one of them agree with her.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Daniel-in-BC

I don't have the link handy, but AndreasWitnstein has quoted a scholarly study that is quite impressive. As I said, it isn't what I was taught. (I thought only for persons and for pet animals and other "things" that were personified.) DL and Andreas (and the source) say differently.

I did say higher orders of animals. So, no, I don't think insects/bugs/etc. count.

And, I still don't really understand, to be honest.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AndreasWitnstein

It's not just a matter of one scholarly article. There's a vast scholarly literature on this subject —under the rubrics of “acusativo preposicional”, “‘a’ de acusativo”, “prepositional accusative”, “accusative ‘a’”, and “differential object marking”— by actual philologists and linguists empirically studying actual Spanish texts and speech.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AndreasWitnstein

Yes, the animate ‘a’ is used even with a cockroach. For example, right now here in Spain, Google lists more than 137 times as many hits for ‘atrapar a la cucaracha’ (4,260) as for ‘atrapar la cucaracha’ (31).

It's deplorable that this false information has been propagated through seven textbooks, but textbook authors, like so many authors (Iraq WMDs, anyone?) copy from their peers, especially terminology. In any case, English-language Spanish textbooks, regardless of their number, have no control over how native Spanish speakers use their own language.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AndreasWitnstein

Yes, flies too. For example, right now Google lists more than 13 times as many hits for ‘atrapar a la mosca’ (333,000) as for ‘atrapar la mosca’ (24,000).


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mitaine56

andreas- But in Google, informations come most of the time from anyone, we see here in Duo often when many persons say I'll report it, they think they're c orrect and often they're wrong. So if many people who are wrong write on google to give their wrong answer, how can we trust that?. I prefer be looking at grammar instead.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Daniel-in-BC

Wow. You're blowing my mind ...


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mitaine56

isenhatesyou- the rule is complex. For people, you would say he visto A Juan/I saw Juan. Imagine you own a bar. last year you hired a waiter. This year you want to hire him again, you'll say : busco a un camarero/I'm Looking for a waiter. Personal A because you already know the guy. Busco un camarero, it means you need a waiter and no matter who he will be, even though you don't know him yet. The same for animals in the forest for exemple : they're not a pet, you don't know him, you don't know its name, no personal A is needed


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jefffaust

Ah yes, that makes sense. Thanks!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AndreasWitnstein

It's ‘al gato’ because ‘el gato’ is the direct object, it's definite, and it's animate.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ScottBoggs3

Buscar takes an a after it. You "buscar a una objeta".

This always stands out really starkly to me because usually the spanish 'a' translates to 'to', 'on', or 'at'; all of which significantly differ from the english preposition that goes with "to look" in this case ("for"). However, this is far from the only time I've seen "buscar a"...


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BenYoung84

No, it's the personal a, this has already been covered in other comments.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/unoduouno

"You may look for the cat." should be accepted.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/cdntinpusher

Where does the word "for" come from in the translation? Is buscar = to look or = look for? How do I know?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/cdntinpusher

Cool! Bookmarked that page. Thanks.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/arturohiero

Buscar = to look for; mirar = to look.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Daniel-in-BC

I think of mirar as "to look (at)".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AndreasWitnstein

‘buscar’ = “to seek”.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Daniel-in-BC

yes, but it can be helpful to also think of it as "to look for" so that we remember that we don't need to (usually) use a preposition after the word in Spanish. (Some people in English use a preposition after "seek"; I don't, but some do.) Also, because the two words are often translated as "look", thinking of mirar = "to look (at)" and buscar = "to look for" helps me decide which to use.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AndreasWitnstein

Good point: I was thinking it'd be helpful to think of ‘buscar’ as “to seek” because neither takes a preposition, but some people do say “to seek after”.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BayIslander

Think of "buscar" as "search for".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Nepetalactone

You can search the cat is not ok? I'm not a native english speaker


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/cdntinpusher

"You can search FOR the cat." would be OK. If "you search the cat" you are looking for something on it, that is, basically patting it down for weapons! ... xD


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/cdntinpusher

If you've ever owned a cat, you know they always carry concealed weapons! ;D


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/skepticalways

Chris, Yep, CLAWS!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Nepetalactone

Makes sense, thanks!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/skepticalways

cdntin, June 2017, I typed "search for the cat" and was marked incorrect. Came here to see if I needed to report it, and I WILL.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/lynetteRob3

The word 'cat' was not there.......... I saw 'can'


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/flanwales

So in a nutshell a "prepositional accusative" is used for an "animated noun". I am quitting here and going back to English which I obviously haven't sorted yet.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/cakeoven

Cat was not an option only can was


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JohnsonNing

"...able to..." got rejected. I thought ”can" and ”able to” are interchangeable.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BenYoung84

If your sentence was "You are able to look for the cat" then that should probably be accepted.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rob93637

How would they phrase it if they wanted to search the cat, for smuggled catnip or suchlike?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Anyusername

Hi this is probably covered elsewhere but why it is not "usted puedes" with these setences? Thanks


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AndreasWitnstein

‘Usted’ takes the 3rd-person singular instead of the 2nd-person singular because it was originally pronounced ‘Vuestra merced’ = “Your mercy”.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Daniel-in-BC

It's Ud. puede or Tú puedes. Ud. is formal and is familiar. They use different forms of the verb.

You can enter poder (or any other verb) here and it will give you the different forms:

http://www.conjugation.org/


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PeterLukac2

"cat" was not given!!!!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/XSarah

Why is there sometimes a 'que' in the sentence, but sometimes not? For example: Tengo que trabajar and Usted puede buscar al gato. Is there a rule that one needs to know for this? Thanks.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AndreasWitnstein

‘tener’ without the ‘que’ just means “to have”; ‘tener que’ means “to have to”.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/XSarah

Ah, muchas gracias! I understand now.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jetze92

Seriously, how can I know when the a is for the cat or when it's the personal a thing?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AasinPena

You can look for the cat. = Puede buscar por el gato.

What the question translates to is "You can look to the cat."


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JosephKnox

You can frisk the cat.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/bluerev

Why can't I say "hunt for" instead of "look for". In this context, those words are interchangeable in English.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BenYoung84

But they're not really.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Bowie989183

Would "You can find the cat" be acceptable?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ashleypayne1987

How would I say "you can look at the cat"?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MeleeNess23

(Tú) puedes mirar al gato.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Laceway

isn't that the wrong conjugation for poder? "puedes" = you can, "puede" = he/she/it can.

Since it's "you" who can look for the can, it should be "usted puedeS buscar", right? this sentence says "you [he/she/it can] search"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SqueezeboxSarah

"Puedes" is used for tú (informal you) only. Verbs for the formal "usted" are conjugated the same way as "he/she/it." It's a weird thing for English speakers to get used to, because it makes the sentence look like "you is."


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Laceway

thanks for the clarification.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/showes27

Can't it be translated as "you can pick up the cat"?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MeadowlarkJ

No, buscar means "search for" or "look for". If you want to say "pick up" I think you should use "recogar".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/joan561426

What's the difference between conseguir and buscar? Can I say"Donde puedo buscar al puerta"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/norma0044

why is there no "s" in puede when using usted?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SqueezeboxSarah

"Puede" is the él/ella/usted conjugation for poder. "Puedes" is only used with tú, the informal (and much more common, from what I understand) word for "you."

Said in another way, "usted" is a more formal way to address a person, while "tú" is used under most circumstances, between family and friends; the conjugation for "usted" is the same as the one used for "él" and "ella," which is why it is used (correctly) here.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/norma0044

does anyone know why there is no 's' in puede in the above sentence?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BenYoung84

It means it's the usted form and not the tú form.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/linda539285

I translated the senyence as, "You MAY look for the cat," and it was rejected. Why?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Adina_atl

My general impression of the so-called "personal a" is that it helps distinguish between the direct object and the subject when the direct object has agency--is capable of acting. In Spanish sentences the subject can be omitted or it can be put at the end of a sentence without changing the meaning. So you could have "Puede buscar al gato" (You/he/she can search for the cat) and "Puede buscar el gato" (The cat can search). The "a" makes it clear which you mean.

English distinguished subject and direct object by word order--"Dog bites man" vs "Man bites dog"--while other languages like Russian do it by declension, changing the form of the noun depending on the role it plays. Spanish does it by including the preposition "a".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MarkSameh95

to those who also speak Portuguese .. buscar in spanish is different than portuguese ?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/abby459963

Why isn't there an indirect pronoun (lo) in this sentence?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BenYoung84

First of all "lo" is a direct object pronoun, not indirect "le" is the indirect form for él, ella and usted. But there's no need for any object pronoun (direct or indirect) in the translation because there's no object pronoun in the original English sentence.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/The.Other.Caleb

You can search for the cat...but you will never find it...


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LoCo131816

Kind of new to this. Is there a place to learn what duo lingo had to say about it?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SqueezeboxSarah

About what, specifically?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/samuel553514

alguien sabe por que va el for ? soy nativo del habla española


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ShriramRavi

Why is "You can search for ❤❤❤❤❤" wrong


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/bassheadxx

Is the 'a' in this sentence part of buscar, like "buscar a"? Or is it the "personal a" referring to the cat?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BenYoung84

It's the personal a.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/NicoNSG

I got "You can get the cat." It was wrong, so I reported it.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Angry_Mongoose

A, the. Same thing right?

(I know they aren't)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BenYoung84

Do you mean "a" in English or "a" in Spanish?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Urbrato

Why "search" doesn't fit?

Learn Spanish in just 5 minutes a day. For free.