"When do you want to go to the station?"
Translation:¿Cuándo quieres ir a la estación?
"a" and "De" can only be combined with the masculine singular form of the word "the" i.e. "el". So: "a+el = al" and "de+el=del." You cannot combine with the feminine article.
What I don't get is why in many of the samples they use the form "de la" to translate "to the" and then in this case they insist on the "a la". Ex. "Los hotels están cerca del aeropuerto." and "La estación de tren está cerca de los parques. " I am reporting it. I don't know what else to do. I know that "de" can mean "of" or "from" but it in many cases they translate it as "to". I don't understand why the difference? Any ideas?
Prepositions don't match up exactly. If you try to always match 'a' to 'to,' or 'de' only to 'from,' you'll run into a lot of trouble. Sometimes where we would use one preposition in two different cases, such as 'to the right' and 'to the station.' Spanish would have a different preposition in each case. It's one of the hardest parts of language, and many times you just have to memorize what the rules are, and what the special cases are.
That said, here are some rules about when to use 'a' taken from here
to indicate movement (as is the case above, ...ir a la estación)
to connect a verb to another verb (vamos a bailar = we are going to dance)
to indicate manner or how something is done (lo hice a mano = I did it by hand.)
to introduce a person as a direct object ([called the 'personal a'] Veo a mi madre = I see my mother)
introduce an indirect object (le di el regalo a Cecilia = I gave the gift to Cecilia.)
to express time (cenemos a las seis = we eat dinner at six o'clock.)
where does "IR" come from? It is the first time i see it. I'm guessing it means you but when i looked at YOU for a suggestion, IR did not show up? This is not the first time that has happened for other words where I put in their suggestion and it is not in the answer, so it was corrected as wrong answer. Ex: hacer shows up a lot as an a hint but is nowhere in the right answer.
Gender has nothing to do with it. Both 'de' and 'a' can be used with any gender and with both singular and plural. The only thing to note as far as gender is concerned is that 'a el' and 'de el' are always shortened to 'al' and 'del.'
The difference between 'a' and 'de' is the difference between 'on' or 'to' or 'of' or 'in' or any other preposition. Try to think about how you would describe the differences between all of the prepositions in English and you'll realize how difficult they can be. For example, you might say that 'on' usually means something is on top of something, or on the surface of something, but then how do you explain a phrase like 'what's on tv' or 'I'm on the phone'? Why is it 'on your mind' and not 'in your mind'? They're tricky that way, and when you learn Spanish prepositions, you have to learn a few rules, but you also have to memorize some idioms and phrases.
Luckily this case is pretty easy! 'A' can indicate motion. You're going to the station. You're moving towards the destination, so you use 'a.' Whenever you're going 'to' someplace, you can almost definitely use 'a.'
Here are some helpful guidelines about when to use prepositions. And remember, don't try to match them up exactly with an English counterpart. The way we use prepositions doesn't always line up one to one. Be flexible and remember what they represent in Spanish, and pick the word that best suits that in English, not the word that you think it directly translates to.