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Why sometimes "a" is used after oler and sometimes not. Is there some logic?

Emanuel B.C1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Why sometimes "a" is used after oler and sometimes not. Is there some logic?

Asked 6 years ago
InmaKwiziq team member
Hola Emanuel, Oler is used without preposition "a" when there is a direct object or it is followed by an adverb, for example: "Yo huelo las flores en mi jardín" (I am smelling the flowers in my garden), the flowers being the direct object, or "Él huele fatal" = "He smells horrible", horrible being the adverb. However when you want to say that "Something smells of something or like something" we need preposition "a", e.g "El coche huele a gasolina" (The car smells of petrol). I hope your doubt has been clarified. Gracias.
Emanuel B.C1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
Thank you - just an additional question - ¿Vosotros oléis a pollo quemado? Could it also mean Do you smell of burned chicken?
Emanuel B.C1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Could I ask - ¿Vosotros oléis pollo quemado? Would it mean - do you smell burned chicken?

InmaKwiziq team member

Yes Emmanuel, this sentence "Vosotros oléis a pollo quemado" could also mean "You smell of burned chicken".


Stuart M.C1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Hola Inma y soporte,

I was thinking this exact same thing, so really pleased to see Emanuel has asked this. To widen this out, are there any other verbs in which this preposition is used in this way?

Maybe this is too broad, but the random usage of 'a' for us native English speakers (no offence!), does this occur elsewhere?

I note that we have a lessons on time, movement verbs, and oler, but is there anything other than that?


InmaKwiziq team member

Hola Stuart,

There are many cases where the preposition "a" is necessary after a verb. When "a" is followed by a direct object and we are using what is called in Spanish "verbos de afección física y psíquica", meaning those verbs that have some kind of physical or moral effect on the person, for example:

amar, admirar, acompañar, golpear, empujar, odiar, matar...

we need the preposition "a". Here are some examples:

Acompañé a mi hija al hospital.

I accompanied my daughter to the hospital.

Amé a ese hombre durante mucho tiempo.

I loved that man for a long time.

Ellos golpearon al gato con un palo.

They hit the cat with a stick.

Han matado a un hombre.

They killed a man.

Odio a mi profesora de inglés.

I hate my English teacher.

Admiro a la gente que viaja por el mundo.

I admire people who travel around the world.

I noted down this topic to extend our content on the different uses of the preposition "a". We will soon have more lessons.

Un saludo


Why sometimes "a" is used after oler and sometimes not. Is there some logic?

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