"No puedo decir qué comieron."
Translation:I cannot say what they ate.
No puedo decir que comerion would be, "I can't say that they ate" (as opposed to that they didn't eat).
So if someone spoke this sentence how would you know what they meant as you can't see the accents on the words coming out of their mouth?
The difference is in intonation. Here, qué has a more strong intonation than que. I have recorded an audio in a web page. The first phrase is with qué and the second one with que.
I appreciate the audio examples. But they sound practically identical! Being only barely able to distinguish these (and I seem to have a pretty good ear for subtleties in spoken language), I'm having difficulty imagining how, if hearing only one of them, one would ever be able to discern just from the audio which was actually meant - especially given the variability in how people intonate identical words.
Probably context helps. There are plenty of similarly ambiguous oral sentences in English.
It sounds like it's actually not so much the intonation as the length of pause before "qué" (longer) and "que" (shorter).
I appreciate this, but I honestly can't tell the difference. I guess it's good that in a conversation using this, you would usually be answering a question, which would make it obvious!
So what is the difference between "qué" and "lo que" which also seems to mean what?
I'd like to know if anyone answered using "lo que" and got it right. I'm still learning about "lo que" too, but I think they should be interchangeable here.
I would like to know this as well. I tend to use "lo que," etc. and never use "qué" as a contraction like this.
I would hear the sentence with "qué" as "what they ate" (like an embedded question ... "What did they eat?" "I don't know what they ate") while "lo que" is "the stuff that they ate." And I don't know that you'd ever say the latter. Maybe if you meant "I don't know the names of the stuff that they ate, I saw it but it's some foreign food."
I just tried "I cannot say what you ate" and DL marked it wrong. Does one have to explicitly use "you all"? I thought plural you was implied when translating "comieron" to "you ate".
No, "you" should be accepted. Please report it.
Four years later and I still got marked wrong for the same error. Is this not correct after all?
It's still marked incorrect. I think you should be accepted as you-plural or you-singular.
Well, it would be the formal plural version of "you ate". "You all ate" is a familiar or informal plural version, accepted in only some areas of the US
In New Zealand, especially in the top of the North Island, "youse" (rhymes with "goose") is used for 2nd person plural in spoken English. "Did youse go to town today?"
It's not just in the US that "ustedes" is both formal and informal. That is also how it is used in Mexico, which is why it's so prevalent in the US.
Not "ustedes", but "you all" in English is what I am saying is not accepted but in only some areas of the US. It should just be "you". Yes, I am aware that "vosotros" is used more in Spain and "ustedes" is used for both formal and informal in the Americas, kind of like "you" which is used instead of "thee" and "thou" for informal as well as for formal.
Allintolearning, I agree that we USA Southerners have a very GOOD plural version of "you," mostly for casual use, and think it's a very practical way both to shorten "You all" and to be inclusive of a group. But every case of using "you all" does not have to be casual or idiomatic. For example, "I cooked a big meal just an hour ago, and everyone ate heartily. Why are you all asking for more food now?" The cook emphasizes in that case the whole group, or more than two, probably, want more food, which would not be clear otherwise. Using "you" alone could sound like you're just calling one person a glutton, and if it did happen to be just two people, the cook may have said, "... why are (just) you two asking for more food now?" And, of course, we use that helpful contraction that lots of folks make fun of us for - "y'all." While it's not accepted in formal writing, it IS quite polite to be inclusive, when we say, "Y'all come back to see us!" ;-)
That is great that you explained your dialect, but in other parts of the country. We would simply say "Why are you asking for more food now?" and unless we specified one person's name or stared at one individual, it would be considered plural. If we really added the word "all", we would say "Why are all of you asking for more food now? Didn't I serve enough?" and in Spanish they would use "todos de ustedes". Actually asking why people would want more food is something I would not usually do unless those people were family or friends, though. That whole scenario is actually a familiar way of talking that is perhaps common in the South. I would simply make more food.
allintolearning, In Spanish, it would be "todos ustedes, vosotros" without "de"
allintolearning, thanks for your reply to my commentary about our informal Southern USA "plural form of you," often contracted to "y'all." (I see, now that I'm on the computer instead of the phone app I usually use, that the discussion was a year old!) When I gave the scenario of a cook asking why the people she fed were back in an hour asking for more food, I was thinking of a bunch of kids, who perhaps did not eat well at dinner time - especially their vegetables! - but then they came into the kitchen bothering the cook for more of the parts they liked -- not that we would question guests as to why they asked for more food - HA! But I can think of many common uses of "you all" that are perfectly grammatically correct. Think of a teacher telling her class, "The Governor is coming to our class, and we will all be on TV while he talks about the importance of education. You all must be quiet and on your best behavior while he is here." In both of her sentences, the teacher could have omitted using "all" entirely, but was using it for emphasis. When someone is speaking to a group, even adults, it is very common to hear "you all," and not just in the regional South. (I have lived in many places in the USA.) "You ALL know the importance of guarding your passwords!" "You ALL must adhere to dress code and facial hair restrictions to work at Disney World." And, "God bless you all!" I don't know where you're from, by the way, but certainly admire your dedication to language skills!
If a verb is after a "que" should it be conjugated? Does a "que" indicate a "compound" sentence, such that the first verb after "que" should be conjugated?
It's an embedded question. "Who was there?" "I don't know who was there." "What do you want?" "I don't know what I want." "What did they eat?" "I can't say what they ate."
I should actually have been marked wrong on this (can't believe I'm saying so) because que with or without an accent makes a big difference to the translation I think: instead of I can't say what they ate (with an accent) it reads I can't say that they ate (without an accent).
It reads qué with an accent so "what" is correct. At least, it does today 1/4/2014 4:55pm Pacific time. Duolingo was kind and sometimes lets you get by with forgetting an accent.
what is the difference between "...what they ate" and "...what did they eat"?
The first is a statement and the latter is a question, though if you stuck the latter on the end of DL's sentence it wouldn't make any sense unless you put it in quotes like:
I cannot say "What did they eat?" // No puedo decir "Qué comieron?"
But that's not how the DL sentence is phrased and even then you're more likely to use a verb like 'preguntar' than 'decir'. Hope this helps!
In an embedded question in English, you don't use the auxiliary verb + inversion like you would if it were a question on its own.
This is gramatically incorrect. A change in subject, the use of 'que', and the expression of doubt requires the subjunctive tense. Such as "No puedo decir que coman" in thr present or "No pude decir que comieran" in past subjunctive. Dont give bad habits to new Spanish speakers, please. When you can, avoid que to connect two subjects!
Why is it only qué and not lo que? I thought qué in terms of "what" was only used for questions, and in statements, lo que meant "what".
Yeah, it's top secret. Yet another phrase that barely an hour will pass before I have to use it again.
time after time DL translate 3rd person plural as 'you' so why not here??? So inconsistent again!