In Spanish if there is an a before the direct object it is a human being. This a is not translated. Apparently you cannot see old comments but k3nd0 had: He visits the doctor and he visits the bank. Él visita al doctor y él visita el banco. In this way the Spaniards know that the doctor is a human being and that the bank is something else.
Margo - there are some explanation above on this page :). The "a" here is
not a "to", but something that is commonly called "the personal 'a'" which has no corresponding English equivalent but is grammatically required in Spanish before any specific person/group of people or animal when they are a direct object.
The "al" (a + el) is necessary because you are referring to the person who is a doctor as the direct object, not his office, so you need the personal "a". If you said "Él visita la oficina del doctor." the personal "a" is not necessary, as the direct object is not a person, but the office. I wonder if there is a way to say in Spanish what we say in English: "He visits the doctor's." where the office is implied by the possessive, because possessive, to my knowledge, in Spanish can't be demonstrated by just adding an 's?
Can anyone please explain me why the translation " he is visiting the doctor" is not admissible? Latin languages do not have the continuous aspect of a tense, like English does, but since the verb "visita" describes an action that is either general or happening (both) at the moment of speaking, I wonder why the above mentioned translation is not admissible. Thank you.
“He is visiting the doctor.” is a correct translation of ‘Él visita al doctor.’, because “to visit” is an action verb, and in English, the progressive aspect is always used for present-tense actions except when describing habitual actions or for the narrative present. In Spanish, in contrast, the progressive aspect is only used to emphasize the ongoing nature of an action.
I think that what bothers me about this particular sentence is that I originally interpreted it as "He visits the doctor." But I am still on unsteady ground regarding the "a". So I hit the "al" interpretation below the word "al" before I submitted my answer and it read, "to the." So then I typed in, "He visits to the doctor" and it was marked wrong. Go figure.
In Spanish the direct object has an "a" before it if this object is a human being while English does not use to. Do not translate the Spanish "a"
él visita el burro/ al doctor he visits the donkey/ the doctor,
you do not use "to" with the donkey so why should you do it with the man
According to my Spanish book, the personal 'a' is required before the direct object of a verb if : the direct object is a definite person or persons, a domestic animal, a pronoun referring to a person, or a geographic name (unless the geographic name is preceded by the definite article). Therefore 'al' should be used in your sentence - unless it is referring to a wild dog and a wild cat.
The drop section gives what something can signify. In this case it should include that a can mean nothing. NAMELY: Al is a contraction of a+el. The preposition a is used because the doctor is a direct object which in Spanish must be preceeded by a if it is a person. It is best to leave this a, the so called personal a, untranslated because it is an unknown phenomen in English
Why is spanish so complicated?
You have to use "al" instead of "el" after a PERSONAL "a" word? Really?
In English it's "THE" all the way across, no matter where. Yes "Proper" english has some dumb rules, but it doesn't have anything on Spanish. Now, before I get a ton of hate, why don't the educated people please tell me all the wonderful reasons spanish is so much better, being more complicated than English.