I can't remember if I've already commented something to this effect, but: why is "...at the bar" not accepted here? I understand that sa means "in the," but for this case, "at the bar" is the most natural thing I'd say in English, unless I'm standing right in the next room (in which case, tá siad ag ól feels better).
Maybe sa is used only for that exact instance. But if that's the case, example sentences with much less ambiguous senses in English would be majorly helpful.
It might depend on whether beár primarily means “the building where the business that sells alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption operates” or “the counter within the building where …”. The EID, FGB, and AFB definitions all suggest the latter meaning, which would make “at” the preferred preposition for translating sa bheár ; however, the NEID suggests that both English meanings are used in Irish, and notes that ag would be used rather than i when the latter meaning is intended. Beár isn’t in Dinneen’s dictionary, and tearma.ie doesn’t have any example sentences with beár, so it’s a judgement call on which meaning was intended here.
I think it's even simpler than that - if you want to say "in the bar" you use sa bheár, if you want to say "at the bar" you say ag an mbeár. If I was in a hotel, for example, I would tell someone that I would meet them "in the bar", or I would say "I met Joe in McCarthy's Bar last night".
I would usually only say "at the bar" if I planned to be sitting or standing physically touching the bar counter, rather than sitting at a table drinking something that had been served "at the bar". In pubs in Ireland that have both a "lounge bar" and a "saloon-bar", I think you would definitely say "I'll meet you in the lounge" or "we'll be in the bar".
My point was that in the older reference works (up to the AFB, published in 1991), the “building” meaning wasn’t offered as a possible meaning of beár ; only the “counter” meaning was offered. It was only the NEID that offered the “building” meaning, which suggests (but doesn’t prove) that the “building” meaning was acquired from English, perhaps only a generation ago.
This is at least the 3rd instance that I've encountered recently where people have complained about the use of sa instead of ag an. sa sladmhargadh, sa phictiúrlann and sa bheár are all perfectly reasonable constructions, but some people claim that there's something wrong with "in the sale", "in the cinema" and "in the bar", and insist that Duolingo should accept "at the sale", "at the cinema" and "at the bar" for sentences that use sa in Irish.
Maybe we Irish insist on doing things "inside" because it's always raining :-)
Most "market squares" in Ireland are open spaces, and you very definitely can stand "in the square", not "at the square".
Aisling's post is over a year old so I'm not really sure what examples she encountered, but my memory is of exactly the opposite - non-Irish users complaining that they weren't allowed to translate sa bheár as "at the bar" or sa phictiurlann as "at the cinema".
Hmmm. I was also marked wrong for translating "sa" to "at". I think that's ok, because we are here to learn Irish, not English. And the Irish say "in".
In addition, literal translations teach me more about the culture - which I believe comes part and parcel with learning a language.