The personal a.
When the direct object of a verb is a specific person or specific group of persons, it is preceded by the personal a; if the noun is personal but indefinite, the a is not used.
Conozco a María. I know María. [María is a definite person, and the object of the verb conozco.] Busco a un abogado; se llama José Jiménez. I'm looking for a lawyer; his name is José Jiménez. [Since it's a definite person and the object of the verb buscar, the personal a is used.] Busco un abogado; tengo problemas con una multa. I'm looking for a lawyer; I've got problems with a traffic ticket. [I need a lawyer and I don't know who I'll find; the personal a is not used since a definite person is not involved.]
The personal a is used with indefinite and negative pronouns for example alguien (someone), nadie (no one, nobody), quienquiera (anyone [at all], whosoever) when they are used as direct objects and referring to persons.
No veo a nadie aquí. I don't see anyone here. Conozco a alguien que puede ayudarnos. I know someone who can help us.
The personal a is not used after the verb tener, unless it is used to mean enrolled in or located in.
Tengo dos hijas. I have two daughters. Tengo a dos hijas en esa escuela. I have two daughters in that school.
Some speakers use the personal before proper place names when they are direct objects, and some will use it with the names of animals --especially pets-- almost humanizing them:
Juan siempre dice ¡Conozco bien a Madrid!. Juan always says, I know Madrid well! ¡Ay, has lastimado a Quiqui, un perrito que no le ha hecho daño a nadie! Oh, you've hurt Quiqui, a doggy who's never harmed anybody!
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