I was doing duolingo lessons, when I stumbled onto this sentence

Él la seguía a ella.

I translated it correctly (according to Duolingo): He was following her. But I am still confused with the structure of this sentence. Could it be simplified to:

Él seguía a ella.

or even

Él la seguía.

Don't la and a ella mean the same thing in this sentence, and in some way redundant when we use both of them?

2 Answers 2


You can't say:

Él seguía a ella. ✖️

When the direct complement is a personal pronoun, like ella, you must put the redundant la before the verb:

Él la seguía a ella. ✔️

If the complement is not a personal pronoun, you don't need the la:

Él seguía a María. ✔️

You can also omit the complement as you guessed, but that changes the emphasis of the sentence:

Él la seguía. ✔️

This is explained in this RAE article about object pronouns:

5.1. Si el complemento tónico es también un pronombre personal, la coaparición del pronombre átono es obligatoria, tanto si el complemento es directo como indirecto: Me castigaron a mí; A ti te dieron el premio (no Castigaron a mí; A ti dieron el premio). Aunque son posibles, en estos casos, oraciones idénticas sin el complemento tónico (Me castigaron; Te dieron el premio), existen diferencias expresivas de importancia entre ambas posibilidades: la presencia del complemento tónico denota un propósito de contraste o discriminación, ausente de la oración en la que solo aparece el pronombre átono; así, en Me castigaron a mí, frente a Me castigaron, se subraya el hecho de que ha sido solo a mí, y no a otros igualmente merecedores de ello o más culpables que yo, a quien se ha castigado.

  • Additional thanks, for RAE link, I still find it complicated to find there information, more complex than right form of the verb.
    – Igor Milla
    Commented Apr 11, 2016 at 10:46

The object pronoun her is la.

If we say he was following her, this is actually él la estaba siguiendo. (was/were + -ing form is past continuous.)

Saying él la estaba siguiendo a ella is redundant, because the object pronoun la tells us who we're referring to.

  • That's confirms what I was thinking. And as for other part of my question, can you say: él estaba siguiendo a ella ?
    – Igor Milla
    Commented Apr 10, 2016 at 21:42
  • @igormilla Yes, but it sounds a little weird to my ears.
    – Schwale
    Commented Apr 10, 2016 at 21:43
  • okey, now all my curiosity is satisfied.
    – Igor Milla
    Commented Apr 10, 2016 at 21:45

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