Quick answer
"De niño" is an adverb which is often translated as "as a child", and "a" is a preposition which is often translated as "to". Learn more about the difference between "de niño" and "a" below.
de niño(
deh
 
nee
-
nyoh
)
An adverb is a word that describes a verb, an adjective, or other adverbs (e.g. to run quickly, very tired).
1. (general)
a. as a child
Para mí de niño lo más importante era recibir afecto.Getting affection was the most important thing to me as a child.
b. as a kid
Rosana era muy alegre de niña.Rosana was very cheerful as a kid.
c.
This refers to an idiomatic word or phrase for which there is no word-for-word translation.
no direct translation
Solía venir a jugar a este parque de niño.I used to come to this park to play when I was a child.
De niña sus padres siempre le decían a Lydia que era muy linda.When Lydia was a kid, her parents always told her that she was very pretty.
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a(
ah
)
A preposition is a word that indicates the relationship between a noun and another word (e.g. He ran through the door.).
1. (used to indicate direction)
a. to
Ve a tu habitación.Go to your room.
2. (used to indicate position)
a. to
A la izquierda puedes ver el parque.To your left you can see the park.
3. (used to indicate an exact moment)
a. at
Saldremos al amanecer.We will leave at dawn.
4. (used to indicate mode)
a.
This refers to an idiomatic word or phrase for which there is no word-for-word translation.
no direct translation
Podía respirar a duras penas.He was hardly able to breathe.
5. (the personal "a")
a. to
No te olvides de escribir a tus abuelos.Don't forget to write to your grandparents.
6. (used to give orders)
a.
This refers to an idiomatic word or phrase for which there is no word-for-word translation.
no direct translation
¡A fregar los platos!Go do the dishes!
¡A la cama!Off to bed!
7. (used with quantities)
a.
This refers to an idiomatic word or phrase for which there is no word-for-word translation.
no direct translation
Me encantaría ganar dinero a espuertas.I would love to earn lots of money.
Llovía a cántaros.It was pouring.
8. (used to express purpose)
a. to
Vino a saludar.He came to say hello.
9. (used to express frequency)
a. per
Trabajo ocho horas al día.I work eight hours per day.
A feminine noun is almost always used with feminine articles and adjectives (e.g. la mujer bonita, la luna llena).
10. (letter)
a. a
Ese adjetivo debe terminar con una a.That adjective should end in an a.
11. (music)
a. A
El pianista tocó una A.The pianist played an A.
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