the use of AL
i'm curious as to when this should be used. In the prepositions stage, it says you can use it in a sentence such as "camino al mar" (i walk to the sea). But throughout the following levels it doesnt seem to use it for such things but rather "camino HACIA el mar" (lit: i walk towards the sea) - not making use of "al". Or when it is used, its in sentences such as: "La mujer no ve al niño." (lit: the mother does not see to the boy) which doesnt make much sense to me. I dont see why 'AL' is used and not just 'EL' (the mother doesn't see THE boy). Also on google translate 'camino al mar' translates to 'way to the sea'. Is this just a different type of spanish? I get the feeling Duolingo's spanish is south American? Thankyou for any help :)
al is the contraction of a + el, and it is used in all Spanish. a and hacia are also synonyms, so you can replace a with hacia ( al with hacia el) When the mother looks at the boy the 'a' is the personal a -- if you don't understand the a + el contraction or he personal a, do some googling and you'l get the entire story. Camino can be a verb or a noun, I walk, or path.
NORMALLY in simple sentences when the direct object is a human you use AL, with animals you can choose whether using it or not, for things you don't use AL. For example
Yo veo al niño, ¿Estás viendo la paloma? or ¿Estás viendo a la paloma?
Yo veo el mar, yo veo la casa (Wrong: yo veo a la casa)
Verbs that mean movement (go, run, walk) you ALWAYS use AL (A + EL) cause A indicates direction, like HACIA (Remember A=TO, HACIA=TOWARD)