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I came across the following sentence and wanted to check my understanding of how it works gramatically:

Es importante advertir que, según la mecánica cuántica estándar, a este procedimiento de superposición se lo considera universal y, en consecuencia, válido también si existen más de solo dos alternativas para el estado intermedio.

My understanding is that, unusually, this sentence "personalizes" the inanimate direct object este procedimiento by preceding it with a, and then se lo considera is an impersonal se (not a pasiva refleja), where lo refers to este procedimiento.

Could the sentence instead have been written with a pasiva refleja? Something like:

Es importante advertir que, según la mecánica cuántica estándar, este procedimiento de superposición se considera universal y, en consecuencia, válido también si existen más de solo dos alternativas para el estado intermedio.

And if so, would there be much of a difference in meaning?

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    As a native speaker I've never noticed those two ways with "a" and "lo" and without. They both are correct for sure. This is what's great about this site. You learn things you "already know" :-) +1 – DGaleano Apr 17 '19 at 13:41
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Your understanding seems to me correct on both counts. I've checked the DPD for cases when a direct object may or must be preceded by the preposition a, and this is not one of them. ("Personal a" is not the only case, but anyway it seems absurd to personalize a procedure.)

It could be a case that is not covered by the DPD, probably having to do with resolving a possible ambiguity or to avoid a faulty parsing of the sentence. This is paragraphy 1.1.k of the DPD article linked above, which says that one must add a to the direct object if both the subject and the object are placed after the verb. This is the opposite: the direct object has been moved to a marked position before the verb, and if left there without the preposition a, the hearer/reader might be tempted to start parsing the sentence with este procedimiento as the subject, only to find this reading wrong after a few more words.

This also looks a lot like the compulsory redundant indirect object pronoun that one finds in propositions like A tu madre no le grites (where a tu madre and le both refer to the same indirect object). The redundant direct object pronoun lo is fine here; the the DPD mentions this case (5.2). What's strange is the preposition a. The thing is that, even though the structure of the sentence is not covered by the grammar, it reads completely fine to me.

This may have something to do with the unusual grammar of considerar, which, like creer, takes two arguments in a somewhat confusing arrangement that invites disambiguation. These all mean the same:

  • Considero esta idea disparatada.
  • Considero disparatada esta idea.
  • Considero esta idea un disparate.
  • Considero un disparate esta idea.

If you asked me to emphasize the object, esta idea, I would naturally say:

  • A esta idea la considero disparatada.
  • A esta idea la considero un disparate.

So there's definitely some unstated rule regarding a + direct object there.

The whole thing could be rephrased as a pasiva refleja like you said. There would be no difference in meaning.

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    I think the extra a helps to avoiding parsing se considera as having the subject este procedimiento. For me as well the a sounds natural. There's something about Este procedimiento se lo considera that just sounds off, even though grammatically it's correct and I think you're right that it comes down to a potential ambiguity, of the garden path type. – user0721090601 Apr 16 '19 at 23:16

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