Does anyone know why the translation is "juegan al fútbol" rather than "juegan fútbol" without "al"? Both Google and SpanishDict tranlations also use "al" for playing football, but the don't use it for playing baseball or basketball; i.e., they translate "They play baseball in the park" as "Juegan béisbol en el parque". Same for basketball. When is "al" appropriate and when is it not???
"Jugar" is an intransitive verb.
Intransitive verbs cannot take a direct object.
Intransitive verbs require a connecting preposition to a following noun.
For "jugar" that preposition is "A".
As this is grammar, there is one exception to this rule.
When speaking about "sports" in general as in "deportes" or "los deportes" the "A" is not used.
But every named sport or game requires an "A" between it and the verb "jugar".
Look at "Jugar Intransitive Verb" about one-third of the way down the page:
I suspect it is the same as for most native English speakers and English.
It is training and habit not the rules which dictate how one speaks.
Most Americans have no idea what a "Ditransitive Verb" is.
But (nearly) everyone understands that it is just fine to say: "Please, tell Bob that news."
Or "Did you pay for the meal?" instead of "Did you pay the meal?"
But we automatically know we can say "Did you pay the bill?"
It is simply a rule.
"To play sports" in Spanish is "jugar a los deportes".
You can insert any preferred sport but the pattern remains the same. It is just how "jugar" works.
Now, you can choose to avoid all that by using "practicar".
"Practicar" does not use a connecting "a".
The sentence above could have been:
"Ellos practican fútbol en el parque." and still mean exactly the same thing.
There are always exceptions to grammar rules and not everyone follows them.
My understanding is in some areas of Latin America dropping the "a" is becoming more frequent.
The only officially accepted exception is when you are talking about sports in general as opposed to a specific sport.
So, "Ellos juegan los deportes." vs. "Ellos juegan al fútbol."
The same annoys me with dates... I'm German but I refuse to use "December eight", I want to use it the same way the rest of the world except for this strange country between Canada and Mexico does it :) British English is the real English! In German courses you also don't learn funny Austrian specific words
"Der Fußgeher überkreuzt die Straße am Verkehrslicht." :)
There are many "real Englishes", and Duo strives to accept them all as valid answers. The company, Duolingo, is just America-centric, so both the English and the Spanish that are taught and used here focus more on what is spoken in the New World.
Praticar means "to practice", as in "to exercise". It's mostly interchangeable with jugar unless you don't actually "play" the sport, i.e. it's not a game sport, like fencing - "praticar (la) esgrima".
Also you should use only praticar when you're actually just talking about a training session.
They are there, but they might be hidden from view for you. You can tackle that if you're on a mobile device by rotating it into portrait mode. If you're using the web version, try adjusting your window size or the zoom level (the latter on most browsers with Ctrl and - ). Or switch to keyboard entry.
The Spanish pronunciation rules state that the stress in an unaccented word is on the last syllable unless the word ends with 'n', 's', or a vowel. So in an unaccented "futbol", the last syllable would be stressed: "futból". We don't want that, so we put an accent mark on the 'u'.
That's the reason why words like sándwich, difícil or lápiz get an accent.
What American's call "soccer", everywhere else in the world, even other English speaking countries, call that sport football. They will say American football if they mean the game that Americans call football.
So in Spanish, fútbol pretty much always refers to what Americans call 'soccer'. and fútbol americano refers to what Americans call football.