"To the south"
In English (US) south is only capitalized when referring to a specific area of the country or when part of a proper name. Without the capital S, it refers to a direction on a compass.
Correct translation: "al Sur". Why is "a el sur" not accepted?
Is there any rule that forces shorter versions?
Yes. In Spanish, it is necessary to shorten "a el" to "al" and "de el" to "del." These contractions are unlike English contractions in that they are not optional. In English, I could correctly say "is not" or "isn't." Also, these Spanish contractions are designed to avoid consecutive, difficult to pronounce vowel sounds, not just to conveniently shorten common word pairs.
why is ¨to the south¨ translated ¨al sur¨ and to the north¨ as ¨a la norte¨ according to Duo? Is that correct?