"El hijo culpa a la madre y al padre."
Translation:The son blames the mother and the father.
there are two meanings for "a". One is "at" or "to". that is not what is going on here. This is the "personal a" and it always precedes the object of an action when that object is a person or animal. In English the subject always comes first, but in Spanish, you can change the order, so you could say "El hijo culpa a la madre" or you could say, to emphasize who is being blamed, "A la madre culpa el hijo". It is still the mother being blamed. Given that you can swap the subject and object, you have to have a way of identifying the object or you wouldn't know who is blaming who, and the "a" serves that purpose. If the object is not a person or animal, it is clear who is acting, so you don't need it then.
Not entirely correct. "A la madre culpa el hijo" is not correct Spanish. To swap the object and the subject of a sentence, you use "[object] lo/la/le [verb] [subject]" structure, where lo/la/le depends on the gender of the object and whether the object is direct or indirect. You have to use this construction even when there is "personal a" before the object: "A la madre la culpa el hijo".
Carnaedy is correct. As an example we can cite the noted linguist Daddy Yankee: "A ella le gusta la gasolina"
The verb "gustar" is a special case, very different from the verb "culpar". It is irregular.
With "culpar", the "a" is simply the "Personal a". Use the personal "a" when the direct object is a person, or something you have a close relationship with, or personal feelings about, such as pets, family, your country.
(However, don't use the personal "a" with an "indefinite" person, someone with whom you have not personal relationship, such as your plumber or lawn keeper.
In the case of "gustar", the subject follows the verb. In the sentence "A ella le gusta la gasolina", "gasoline" is the subject. It literally says "Gasoline is liked by her." However, we phrase translate it as "she likes gasoline."
There are several "gustar-like" verbs. These include: encantar (love), aburrir (to bore me), someone), faltar (to lack, be missing), interesar, doler (to hurt), llamar (call).
Thanks that's a very good explanation!! Really understand now the need for a.
For a very long time we kept hearing that 'a' is required whenever the object is someone you care about...but this kind of explanation and the ordering of subject and object doesnt really matter much is heard first time from you..it clarified everything!! Thanks a ton !
Thank you both for the explanation. Jhowey helped me understand why do we even have to use a "personal a" and Carnaedy thought me how to swap the object and the subject of a sentence correctly ^_^
Why can't you translate it as The son blames HIS mother and father? I know "la" literally translates as "the," but clearly by having "hijo" as the subject, they are his parents.
I think it's probably safe to infer that but (from my understanding) to say it explicitly would require “su“ instead of “la“ or “el“.
Can't it means the same thing than "a su madre y a su padre"? Because sometimes the possesive adjective are allusive. Example: In French, we say: "je me lave les mains" (I wash myself the hands, the possesive is allusive, it's my hands) In English you would have the translation for this sentence: I wash my hands.
I wrote: "The son blames his mother and his father."
And I did NOT ding out.
Reading through the Comments I am seeing how a major confusion is occurring.
There are lot of students who don't seem to understand the difference between MEANING and TRANSLATION. And as a result, they are attempting to straight across DECODE each Spanish sentence's words into ENGLISH instead of TRANSLATING the meaning of a Spanish sentence into ENGLISH.
As a consequence of what is spelled out in this Spanish sentence, they do not see the English word "HIS" repeated twice in that Spanish sentence. And the do not, of course, because those words cannot be seen there when one works out the MEANING of the Spanish sentence, word by word.
A lot of students use the words, MEANING and TRANSLATION interchangably, as if the two words had the same meaning, while they do not.
Duolingo does not teach meaning. Instead, it leaves it up to us to work out what a Spanish sentence means. Duoling in the main teaches translation while edging into meaning on occasion. I do admit, that intermixture can cause confusion.
When a foreign language is translated into English, it is not the MEANING of the foreign language statement that needs to be said in English, but what an English speaker normally says when stating the same idea as what the foreign language statement means. And the best way to say, " El hijo culpa a la madre y al padre" in English is, "The son blames his mother and his father" while the exact MEANING of the Spanish sentence's words does NOT include the word, "his." A good TRANSLATION does, though.
What we ever need to do is work out what a Spanish sentence means in our mind, then we need to turn around and translation the determined idea into commonly spoken English. And that may involve using words not included in the worked out meaning.
"al" is the mandatory contraction of "a + el". It is not optional. I guess the "a" here is the personal "a". Not sure on all the rules on when to used it but it often is used with family and pets. Note "a" can have other meanings too.
Thank you all, and I understand the the contraction. What I do not understand is when to use it and when just to use el. It seems that it is required for some verbs and not others.
That is funny because I thought I had it and then the dog, I think he was presented, threw me off. I will try to relate it to either person or pet in the future and see how it goes.
Would "El hijo los culpa a la madre y al padre.." Also be a way of saying this?
Not that I know of. As far as I am aware Spanish does not duplicate direct object, it's either in a pronoun form or explicit, but not both. Indirect objects are a different story though -- since the IO pronoun is mandatory, duplication comes up if you want to make the indirect object specific.
Could culpa mean accuse because when I did DL spanish to french they translated it as "accuser" not "blamer".
I have repeated this sentences the correct way every time. I reported the problem. has anyone else had the same problem? This is not a hard sentence to say in Spanish. I am tempted to go back to French.
A tip for remembering 'culpar-' to be 'culpable' in English is to be blame-able.
The son blames his mother and his father perhaps, but not the mother and the father.