The Spanish Personal “a”

The direct object is the noun or pronoun that receives the action of the verb. The direct objects are underlined in the following sentences.

The father calls Jose.
The saleswoman offers the shirt to Luis.
The cook prepares food.

In Spanish, when the direct object is a person, it is preceded by the preposition “a.” There is no English translation for this word.

El padre llama a Jose.
The father calls Jose.

In Spanish, the personal “a” is required, and to not use it is a serious error.

El padre llama a Jose.

The personal “a” is not used after the verb tener, or the verb form hay. This is true even if the direct object is a person.

Tengo uno hermana.
I have one sister.

Hay dos chicas.
There are two girls.

If the direct object is an indefinite person, the personal “a” is not used.

Necesitas abogado.
You need (a) lawyer.