The direct object is the noun orpronoun that receives the actionof the verbIn the following sentences, the direct objects are underlined.Mike hit the ball.George calls Mary.He calls her.
In Spanish, when the direct object is a person, it ispreceded by the preposition "a." This word has noEnglish translation.
Jorge llama aMaría.From the perspective of the English speaker, thepersonal "a" appears to be an extra word. From theperspective of the Spanish speaker, the personal"a" is required, and not to use it is a serious error.
La mujer acaricia a su perro. (acariciar)The woman pets her dog.El perro persigue a la gata. (perseguir)The dog chases the cat.The personal "a" may also be used if the directobject is a domesticated animal, especially a pet,provided that the speaker attaches some sort ofpersonal feelings towards the animal.
The personal "a" is not used when thedirect object is not a person or is ananimal for which no personal feelingsare felt.Bebo la leche. (beber)I drink the milk. -- milk is neither a person noran animalMiro la jirafa. (mirar)I look at the giraffe. -- no personal feelings arefelt towards the giraffe
The personal "a" is not used afterthe verb tener, or the verb formhay. This is true even if the directobject isa person.Tengo dos hermanos. (tener)I have two brothers.Hay cinco chicas.There are five girls.