No veo al perro.
What does this sentence mean? 'I can't see the dog' or 'I'm not looking at the dog'?
It translates to "I do not see the dog".... "al" means "a + el". In Spanish, there are certain words that you combine when they are together (e.g. de + el = del). If you're confused because you do not understand why "a" was used here, I think that it is because we treat dogs as people in a case like this ("personal a" is used with people). It is because of human attachment to dogs... If you try changing just the last word on google translate to moose or paper (for example, and put a period at the end of the sentence, because it will change google's translation), those do not translate with a "personal a"... if someone does not agree with my answer, please correct me.
The sentence translates to "I do not (don't) see the dog." "can't" is acceptable, and fine with me, but is an interpretation. 'mirar' is 'to look' as in 'to look at'. 'buscar' is 'to look' as in 'to look/search for'. Regarding 'al', it is a conjunction of 'a el'. 'al' and 'el' both mean 'the dog'. The personal 'a' is used to indicate a closeness of relationship. The dog that he does not see is not just any dog, but a dog that he knows well, or is otherwise showing additional respect for. I am not a native speaker, so can't answer to specific situations, including this one, as to whether the personal 'a' is optional or required. In this case, it is my guess, that either construction is correct, but don't hold me to it.
" mirar " is to look, to look at , to watch , " ver " is to see So it can't be ....I'm not looking at the dog . I would have thought that if you wish to say " I do not see the dog " that there is no place for the " a" ...i.e. You would write " No veo el perro ". I'm not happy with the answers you have received so far !