Tengo una biblia bilingüe. En el 14 capítulo de Juan, cuenta así una conversación entre Jesús y uno de su discípulos:

--Señor-- dijo Felipe--, muéstranos al Padre y con eso nos basta.

--¡Pero, Felipe! ¿Tanto tiempo llevo ya entre ustedes, y todavía no me conoces? El que me ha visto a mí, ha visto al Padre.

En inglés, esta misma frase, "muéstranos al Padre", es traducido del griego original como "show us the Father". Yo hubiera pensado que "muéstranos al Padre" significaría "show us TO the Father".

¿Como es que "mostrar a" no significa "show to"? ¿Y como se escribiría "show us TO the Father"?

I have a bilingual Bible. In John chapter 14, a conversation between Jesus and one of his disciples is recorded like this:

Phillip said, "Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us."

Jesus answered, "Don't you know me, Phillip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father."

In Spanish, this same phrase, "show us the Father", is translated from the original Greek as "muéstranos al Padre". I would have thought that "muéstranos al Padre" would mean "show us TO the Father."

How is it that "mostrar a" doesn't mean "show to"? And how would one say "show us TO the Father"?

  • 1
    This looks to me like the personal a.
    – Flimzy
    Feb 14, 2012 at 7:11

2 Answers 2


In Spanish, when the direct object is a person, you have to put "a" before it. Compare these two sentences:

  • Llevé el libro a la biblioteca
  • Llevé a María a la biblioteca

So, in the examples you give, "el Padre" is the direct object and, even though it is not actually a person, it works as such. That's why it has that "a" (remember, a+el = al).

As you seem to know, the indirect object always has that "a". That can sometimes lead to confusion.

  • 1
    To clarify the (apt) example: "la biblioteca" is indirect object; "el libro/María" are direct objects (impersonal and personal resp.) BTW: "el Padre" is a person - just not a human person.
    – leonbloy
    Feb 14, 2012 at 11:41
  • This is helpful, but how would one say "show us TO the Father"? If I can see how that would be said differently, I think I can absorb the rule. Feb 14, 2012 at 13:10
  • 3
    @Nathan: The problem with the "personal a" is that it is very difficult to distinguish the direct object and the indirect object when they are both people. In fact, as you've already pointed out in the question, "muéstranos al Padre" can mean both "show us the Father" or "show us to the Father".
    – MikMik
    Feb 14, 2012 at 15:30

How is it that "mostrar a" doesn't mean "show to"? And how would one say "show us TO the Father"?

"Mostrar a" means exactly "Show to". The key thing here is that there is a contraction between the pronoun "a" (to) and the article "el" (the).

The extended translated sentence of "Show us TO the Father" would be "muéstranos A el Padre", however this is unused and considered wrong by most of the people. By my grammar (Castillian) teacher when I was at school, for example.

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