Translation:This is a cheese knife; this is a fish knife.
Technically, it means the same, but you should remember that "this knife is for..." is "этот нож для...", and "this is a knife for..." is "это нож для...". These sentences answer different questions. The first is "What is this knife for?", and the second "What is this?"
Strictly from the perspective of a native English speaker, "this X is for" and "this is an X for" are wholly interchangeable and often incomprehensible from each other; the answer is the same, with different phrasing, regardless the varying questions that we're answering. What, then, are the actual rules between "это" and "этот", and how do we know when to use which?
@Mantrid_Brizon - "This" and "that" can be demonstrative pronouns or demonstrative adjectives and it changes the subject of the sentence.
In Russian, the pronoun is simply это (this) or то (that), but the adjectives are этот/эта/это/эти and то/та/те (plus they decline to match the gender, number and case of the noun they describe).
Here's a simple article about it, and I don't mean to insult anyone's intelligence but I also had a difficult time coming up with a simple answer as to the difference between them. https://7esl.com/demonstrative-pronouns-this-that-these-those/
I think one of the difficulties I had in answering was getting hung up on the rather specific example you gave, but these pronouns/adjectives are used in a variety of different contexts where they are not interchangeable.
Use the pronoun form both in English and Russian when literally or figuratively pointing to something so as to identify it.
Use the demonstrative adjective form when describing something that is already understood.
This (large object that looks exactly like a Ferrari) is actually a steam powered, high production, automatic knife. Don't get too close to it as it might activate automatically and suck you in.
This knife (which everybody understands you are talking about because it is clearly a knife and you are all looking at it) has poison in its wooden handle so always wear gloves in case you have a scratch or open wound. That knife (which is right beside the first knife) without the wooden handle is o.k.
It makes no difference which form you use when it makes no difference. But there are circumstances when it does make a difference.
There are periods in history when women routinely carried hand held fans to cool themselves. For fashion reasons, sometimes they were quite elaborate. Some Samurai women had sharp edges on their fans so that they could slash the jugular of an attacker.
If warning someone about an armed woman, you would not say.....grab the woman with that knife..... leaving everyone to ignore all the women with fans while looking for a belts or something that would hold a knife.
You yourself would say.....That is a knife (pointing at the fan) grab her and get that fan away from her.
First get clear about demonstrative pronouns and demonstrative adjectives in English whether you use them routinely or not. Then do the same with Russian which will be much easier when you have the English down pat. Then you are ready to learn the rules about how they are applied in Russian.
Conversely, you could just forget the grammar naming system for parts of speech and their rules. You could just think of co-locations. Some words just go together for some reason and some words never do for some reason.
In that system, you learn phrases instead of words, read short stories and repeat them out loud, watch movies etc and immerse yourself in the language as much as possible.
But Duo isn't the right platform for that. It is all about translation exercises. They expose you to the vocabulary and grammar at the same time and test you on it. That forces you to examine your understanding of the rules of your own language.
Duo is here, it is free and it is all laid out for you. Other approaches are less conventional and lack structure unless you pay for someone to do it for you. Good ones are hard to find and success is hard to estimate.
I guess they accept it because the meaning is similar, but "This is a ..." is a more faithful translation because of the "это vs этот" thing that olimo explains.
Well, according to "The Phonetics of Russian" (Jones Ward, 2011), it depends on the context. If the я is followed by a palatalised (soft) consonant, it's probably going to be expressed as [jæ]. And in very rapid speech, the vowel could sound even higher (close to [jε]).
Native speakers (of Russian) would be the last people to realise this – that's only natural! But just compare the /a/ sound in сядь (sit!) to the one in сад (garden).
In this example, there is actually a slight difference in vowel quality, (probably due to the anticipation of the devoicing of the s in сыра, to be really pedantic). But I imagine Guido's question was more general, and the answer is yes, it does vary a little with the context.
Insisting on the semi colon when the rest of the translation is correct is complete bs
a knife for the cheese/s ‧ [ one of several generic knives, all of the same design, used for the various food items ]
a cheese knife ‧ [ an especial cheese slicing knife design which ruins or renders the item impractical to be used generically for other cutting ] ‧
I put "this is cheese knife; this is a knife for the fish" and the correct solutions were: "This is the knife for cheese; it's a knife for the fish." and " This is a cheese knife; this is a fish knife." Shouldn't mine also be accepted since it's basically a mix of the two?
The problem with your answer was the lack of an "a" between "this is" and "cheese knife".
Это нож для сыра ; это нож для рыбы.
In duolingo I wrote This is the knife for the cheese; this knife is for the fish.
Duolingo did not accept this answer. Instead it said. This is a knife for the cheese. It is a knife for the fish.
I feel that both should be acceptable.
Technically both are wrong. Well, yours is changing это's part of speech in the translation, DuoLingo's is just weird because you typically wouldn't use "the" if describing something's general function.
"This knife" would be этот нож, but here it just says "это нож", meaning "it is" or "this is" a knife.
"this a knife for cheese; this a knife for fish"
This was marked incorrect. Isn't this really the best translation?
You're missing a very key part in both halves of your translation, which is the verb (is).
Unstressed Os become A sounds. Also, unstressed Яs sound a little more like И. Don't know why you're hearing "dle" though . Maybe it's the TTS. EDIT: Just listened to it, they do kinda glide over it (but that is pretty authentic).
Most of the words get letter -a,I'm really confused about it,can someone tell me why please?
Simply stupid that it wont accept an answer with end. It is more logical and liflike. Still if doulingo would try to teach you usable sentences with actual meaning then it won't be free.
Why cant you say "this is a knife for cheese; this is a knife for fish"? Isn't that the literal translation?
The way Dou tellsthe word "for cheese" is incorrectly stessed.
They say: dla syrA. The correct way: dla sYra.
Lol, I put this knife is a cheese, this knife is a fish. Never been so happy to be wrong.