"Are there snakes in the city?"
Translation:В городе есть змеи?
I think(if understood well from an answer above)if you ask about its existance then you need есть but if you know already and you tell this information then есть omitted. But still I don't know weather you add anyway есть, when you can omit, then it is supposed to be a mistake.
It would be incorrect to ask "В городе змеи?". That would mean "Are the snakes in the city?" The Russian language does not have articles, so it indicates definiteness in different ways. If you could use a word like "the", "this" or "that" in the translation, then it's a definite reference. Есть would only be used for indefinite references.
The only case I can think of in which you could omit "есть" in this QUESTION is if somebody has already told you that there are snakes in the city and you want to make sure or to express surprise. Example:
-Осторожно! В городе есть змеи (or В городе змеи. It is not a question, so "есть" is being used just to emphasize the existence of snakes)
-В городе змеи?
-Be careful! There are snakes in the city.
-There are snakes in the city?! (Like What?! I'm outta here! or Never heard of city snakes)
Unfortunately I can't support my opinion with grammar rules. It is how it sounds more natural to me.
В городе есть змеи? is the most natural translation. As it's often the case with word order, Есть змеи в городе? is not wrong, but feels unnatural out of the context. It could be used in a dialog like this:
--- В городе есть крокодилы, панды, жирафы...
--- А змеи есть в городе?
--- The city has crocodiles, pandas, giraffes...
--- But are there snakes in the city?
That's exactly the impression I've got from my own very limited exposure and understanding of Russian. To be able to communicate effectively, you can use a lot of things that are "wrong" here on Duolingo (and what people, including me, spend a lot of time discussing in detail).
I think I'm developing a real instinct here!
It's marked wrong because it's an unnatural word order for this statement. To me, «Есть змеи в городе?» sounds like the beginning of a story or like someone is doubting that the snakes are in the city (maybe they are in some other place). It's a less conversational word order.
I think it's just a difference of emphasis: usually, new information would go at the end of the sentence. So, if you somehow lost a group of snakes, you could ask the question "Есть змеи в городе?", and it would mean "are the snakes in the city?(or somewhere else?)". But I could be wrong, if anyone could confirm this I'd be grateful!
There are few grammatical rules in Russian that stipulate word order. In general, you're free.
However, word order can be used for emphasis. Duolingo often marks sentences as wrong although they are grammatically aoubd, in order to teach you emphasis.
Two rules of thumb for emphasis: 1. Whatever is emphasized is put at theend of tge sentence. 2. Using ectb emphasizes the existence of the relevant noun, rather than it's characteristics (adjectives).
There are more subtleties regarding emphasis, but I don't understand them - yet. Look out for comments from the users zirkul and Theron; they provide good explanations :)
Would not snakes being in a city be classified as "geographical?"
In my near 2 years learning Russian, including the eight months since I posed this question, I have never come across водятся, save for this sentence. Not even my Russian dictionary has an entry for it. So I'll probably survive without it. But if anyone knows this word водятся, then please do expound on it.
”Есть“ does mean “to eat”; it never means “to be”, though, that is “быть”. It also means “is/am/are”, and the way to distinguish the two meanings is that one is an infinitive (to eat), while the other is a verb in the present tense (is/am/are). If you see “у (noun in genitive case) есть”, this always means that the noun in the genitive case has something. Don’t worry, you will get used to it faster than you could ever imagine!
ест = (he/she/it) eats; the verb's infinitive form is есть ="to eat" .
есть = "(he/she/it) is"; the verb's infinitive form is быть ="to be".
Warning: I'm a beginner too, so it would be great if a native speaker could confirm that!