"I can observe my friend."
Translation:Yo puedo observar a mi amigo.
This sentence seems to be accepted with OR without the personal a. Do these then have different connotations? If so can someone give me examples? Thanks.
My understanding is there must be a direct object "personal a". I had thought maybe it could be omitted if the sentence was saying "I can observe, my friend" but for that to be possible "observar" would have to be able to be used intransitively, which it seems it cannot.
I used amiga also. It is absolutely correct. The English sentence did not specify gender in any way, so we should be free to use either the male or female form.
It seems to be the personal "a" here. "I can observe my car." = Yo puedo observar mi coche."
I had this as a multiple choice There was amigo/amiga. Then the last had "matar" instead of "elegir". It escalated quickly.
The direct object pronoun "la" is redundant here because the direct object follows the verb, but it is acceptable. Your problem is you have placed it in the middle of the verb string. "Puedo observar" cannot be split. You can put the pronoun before the verbs "La puedo observar a mi amiga" or attach it to the infinitive ""Puedo observarla a mi amiga." Both should be accepted, but again, the pronoun is not needed.
Le is an indirect object pronoun, but you would need a direct object pronoun. "Observarlo/la" would be correct, but only if the friend has already been mentioned in the conversation and you were saying "I can observe him/her."
Verbs are not conjugated to gender. "Pueda" is a word, but it is in the subjunctive mood: ¿Crees que pueda hacerlo? - Do you think I can do it? At this stage of learning you probably don't want to go near the subjunctive, but you should definitely look at conjugation tables. SpanishDict has good ones. Here is the one for poder.
I know for human objects there's some blurring of the object pronouns lo/la/le in typical use - i believe the transative/intransivite nature of the verb comes into play, too, but is "lo puedo observar a mi amigo" not correct? I can observe him (my friend). "Lo" (him) being the object of my observation.
The "a" is there not to indicate "to" but because its gramatically correct to use, as some indicated, a "personal" "a" when the object is human or humanized, e.g. feeling expressed toward a pet.