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Which is more correct?


LivetoErr
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When doing Duolingo, tonight, it accepted my, "¿Por qué tú no tocas la tortuga?", but suggested it should be, "¿Por qué no tocas a la tortuga?" when it asked me to write, "Why don't you touch the turtle?"

Which one is better or more commonly spoken in Mexico? The latter one, right?

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  • 3 weeks later...

Interesting question! This is a case of the personal 'a'. How I understand it is this, if you use

a la tortuga

that implies that that turtle and you share a personal relationship. Maybe it's your pet, or your friend's pet or... you get the idea. If you don't, it means you are referring to a generic "turtle". Not one that you know 'personally'. I hope this helped! :)

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This is really interesting. If you use the personal "a" with an animal that you are not understood to have a personal relationship with, would it be confusing or could it be interpreted as "humanizing" other animals in some way? As someone that's interested in personhood as a concept I find this especially interesting.

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  • 6 months later...

When doing Duolingo, tonight, it accepted my, "¿Por qué tú no tocas la tortuga?", but suggested it should be, "¿Por qué no tocas a la tortuga?" when it asked me to write, "Why don't you touch the turtle?"

Which one is better or more commonly spoken in Mexico? The latter one, right?

The first one is used by no one to be honest, it sounds like a really weird Spanish, no one writes it or says it like that, in Mexico or any other Spanish speaking country.  The latter is completely correct, it sounds waaaay more natural and is used like that in Latin America, not only in Mexico.

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This is really interesting. If you use the personal "a" with an animal that you are not understood to have a personal relationship with, would it be confusing or could it be interpreted as "humanizing" other animals in some way? As someone that's interested in personhood as a concept I find this especially interesting.

No, not at all, actually as far as I know there is no connotation of a personal relationship when you use "a".

For example, you could go to a petting zoo and say "Voy a ver a la jirafa"(I'm going to see the giraffe) and it would in no way imply that this giraffe is somehow your pet or that you have interacted with it before.

As for the initial question in this thread, Trellum is correct, the second option sounds natural and is commonly used.

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  • 1 year later...

The first one is correct too. The difference is that you are emphasizing that is YOU who touches or not the turtle and not for example the kid that is close to you. We do this a lot in Spanish; sometimes we "double" the pronouns only to emphasize that is YOU, or ME and no one else.

"Dame eso a mí" versus "Dame eso" or "Dámelo" to remark: give it to me and not to someone else.

¿Dónde vas a ir tú? --> Normally is ¿Dónde vas a ir? because the subject is already referred with the ending of the verb (vas--> 2nd person of singular). In the first case we add "tú" to remark about YOUR option and not mine. "Dónde vas a ir tú? Porque yo me vuelvo a casa." --> Where are YOU going? Because I´m going home. Even in English I heard people doing this emphasis by raising their voice when saying "you".

On the other side, if there is no emphasis intended, that kind of structure sounds very typical from non-native speakers(sounds no natural) whose mother language need always the use of the subject pronoun.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Fegg has a fair point, in my experience that's especially common in Central America and the Caribbean, although we rarely speak like that in Mexico. As for the original question, since it asks about Mexico specifically, definitely the latter one.

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  • 1 month later...

The first sentence is literal translation of the the English phrase into English.

However in Mexico, and almost anywhere where Spanish is spoken, it's not necessary making use of personal pronounces for reading or speaking purposes.

I live in Mexico City and if someone would ask "why don't your touch the turtle", this person would simply say; "por qué no tocas la tortuga"

So the pronoun "you" is not really used when you are talking directly to someone, and notice that we don't say "a la tortuga" but "la tortuga" simply because is the only choice in this phrase.

To say "por qué no tocas a la tortuga" would be necessary extra context, in example; "You are touching the lizard and the chameleon so, why don't you touch the turtle?"

In this case we would ask say; "Estás tocando a la lagartija y al camaleón, entonces, ¿por qué no tocas a la tortuga?"

In addition, depending to whom you are addressing the question, there is a variable for the former translation.

If you are asking this to a young person or someone to whom you talk colloquially, you would ask "¿por qué no tocas la tortuga?"

However if you are asking to a senior person or someone who deserves a respectful treatment, you would say "¿por que no toca la tortuga?

If translated literally you would be exchanging you (tú) for you (usted) which is the formal way to treat people we don't know, senior/elder people, authority persons and else.

 

 

 

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  • 2 months later...

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