I submitted (as translation in English): "The girl is asking for water." I got it wrong, with correct answers cited as: "The girl asks for water." and "The girl is asking water." I can understand the first, but I don't get the second. I also don't get why my answer was not accepted.
"The girl asks water" is absolutely wrong. The verb pedir when translated into English needs a "for." The sentence would mean she is asking a question to water which, personification aside, is not able to respond to any questions. I wonder what questions one would ask water anyway...
The personal a is only used before a direct object. La nina is a subject in this sentence. You may find this article helpful: https://www.thoughtco.com/the-personal-a-preposition-3078139
FULL DISCLOSURE: Native English speaker - US, Southern Appalachian dialect. Other uses of English may vary. Advice about Spanish should be taken with a grain of salt.