Do the brackets around “a” mean that it can be used at the speaker’s discretion, or its use sometimes or always required?
Could I have said, “Os animo que vengáis” or “Me han animado comprar un perro” ?
you always need to use "a" after animar if you are talking about "encouraging someone to do something", so it'd be:
Os animo a que vengáis.
Me han animado a comprar un perro.
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