I would find that very helpful. Since "есть" was introduced in a context where it was optional I have been confused by the use or non-use of "есть". I am certainly not clear on why in some contexts the possessor would be any more important than the act of possession.
I'm not a native speaker but I think I can adequately answer this.
"есть" translates to "there is" or "there exists" such as in the sentence "У меня есть яблоко" (literally "[of me/with me/relating to me/at my possession] there is an apple"). There is not an easy way to translate genitive case меня into English because we don't have it, we have possessive case instead. I can explain that too if you're interested.
But on the topic of есть, let's use the examples above. The first ones would be translated to "at Dad's possession there is Mom" or "Dad has Mom", and "at Dad's possession there is a mom" or "Dad has a mother." The third would be translated to "the mom is at dad's possession" or "Dad has the mom." I've capitalized instances of Dad and Mom where they imply one's own parent directly rather than some other mom or dad.
The difference here in the third sentence is subtle, but basically it comes down to the fact that we are not talking about "a mother" in general, nor the (functionally) proper noun "Mom, the spouse of Dad" of whom there is only one and therefore needs no specification. Instead we are talking about some specific mother: the mother of the puppies. So to make it clear that we mean a very specific mother, we make that the subject of the sentence: "This specific mother is at Dad's possession."
Another way to think of "there is" being used mostly in cases that don't need specification is like the English sentence "On the table there is an apple." You wouldn't say "on the table there is THE apple" because the word "there is" implies that the thing wasn't specified before. We are announcing it's existence for the first time. You'd instead say "THE apple is on the table." Just like you'd say "THE mother is at Dad's possession."
Because there are no articles in Russian, this kind of sentence structure is used to imply specificity and definitives rather than words like "a" or "the" in English.
"Dad has mom" is awkward in English; to me it says that "mom" is not sentient, or conscious, or well. "Mom" is ill, requires constant care, or dead. "Mom" is an object, not a person.
Is this sentence this awkward in Russian too?
The English translation may be improved with "mom is with dad" or "mom and dad are together".
It is a bit strange to me to mix and match terms like that. For instance, you can definitely say papa and mama in English, and you can say father and mother in English, but I don't think it's common to hear "father and mama" or "mother and papa", since they feel like two different registers of language.
Technically the sentence should be correct though.
"мама" is Nominative, "мамы" is Genitive.
The nominative case answers the questions "who?" or "what?". It is an initial form. All dictionaries give nouns in the nominative.
мама читает - mum is reading
The genitive case is used to show that something (somebody) belongs or refers to something (somebody). It can be translated by "of" in English.
кот мамы - mum's cat (cat of mum)
Папа / мама is nominative case; (у) папы / мамы would be genitive case (in this sentence) - http://www.russianlessons.net/grammar/nouns_genitive.php . Папы / мамы can also be the plural forms of those nouns in nominative case.
Not knowing the specific grammatical term... Essentially, she is the subject of the sentence. The way you say "someone has something" is У кого-то что-то, with the что being the thing they have. In English and many languages that thing that is being "had" would be the object of the verb, but in Russian it is not.
Hoo boy I love these types of challenges.
1 - Duolingo has some amazing phrases you'd probably never say (just see "You're drinking my cat's milk" in the Swedish course!!), but it's still a basic and effective means of getting you working with the grammar and seeing how certain words decline in certain cases.
2 - You absolutely would say "Dad has mom" or vice versa, it's actually probably more common than you've realized if you watch TV shows or certain movies (probably not action films as much...). The context would be if someone's afraid of leaving their dad alone ("If I go to University in Michigan, who's going to take care of dad?" - "Dad'll be alright - he has mom").
I answered "Dad has mom." and Duolingo says the answer is "Dad has mom." and that my answer is not correct. Why is this? Tecnical mistake by the computer? Or is this because we feel the situation "Dad has Mom" is not right or because we feel a mom is not a thing dad possesses?
Nouns (together with their adjectives) morph depending on their role in the sentence: whether they are the the subject that performs the action, the object of the action, the recipient of the action, the place where the action is performed, the tool, with which it is performed, etc.
This is known as Cases, and there are six of them. There used to be more and sometimes the remnants of those old ones still can be seen in the language, but it is safe to say that there are six you can't do without and will have to deal with anyway.
The Cases make it possible to shuffle parts of the sentence around and still understand who did what for whom with what regardless of the position of these parts.
The English translation doesn't make any sense. It can be interpreted as either the present tense version of "Dad had Mum" which has a sexual interpretation, but doesn't make any sense as a present tense. Or, more likely, "Dad is the owner of Mum" which also doesn't make any sense. If you wanted to say that Dad owns Mum, you would use the verb owns not "has".
@Edward697039 - In American English it makes perfect sense, and it is used in that meaning all the time; not specifically about parents, but about people in general. "Everybody has somebody", "they have each other", "he has her and she has him". These do not carry any sort of sexual meaning at all. You might also hear "We've got each other" or "they've got each other", though the "got" in that context is a bit redundant.
"A father has a mother." is not accepted despite it and it's equivalents being the most correct answers. Russian has no articles, and it's not possible to deduce whether it's a definite or indefinite 'father', but using 'the' at all in the English translation is dubious at best.
However, "Dad has Mom" is incorrect in every possible way. In English the articles have to be there for it to be grammatically correct.
EDIT: why so harsh... not "incorrect in every possible way", but would be weird on it's own like that.
What is this supposed to mean? The English rendering means that the mother is a sole and entire possession of the father, i.e. old-fashioned patriarchy. I doubt very much this is what the designer of the sentence intended, so I suggest the English version be remedied. Perhaps you mean "Dad has a mom" or "Dad has a wife"?
It could be taken to mean that dad himself has a mom, or that Dad has mom (like, he's not alone because his wife is with him). I wouldn't risk trying to bring political correctness into discussion here. For one, it's just a language learning course so you're going to encounter sentences like this that are solely meant to illustrate grammar. Secondly, Russian culture itself is rather chauvinistic still and while the word "politkorrektnost" might exist, the concept itself is rather foreign in Russia.
Thanks for your comment. I take your point about nonsense sentences being of value in language learning; I'm not trying to be pedantic. Nor, heaven forbid, would I every use the word "patriarchy" as political currency. This sentence just genuinely strikes me as over the line. Your second stab at what it might be taken to mean (Dad is not alone, because he has mom) works if context is provided. Your first one, as your own insertion of an indefinite article illustrates, does not stand. Be that as it may, my comment was meant more than anything as a heads-up to non-native speakers who might be learning English backwards. You do make a very good about the risk of stirring up a political storm! Online forums can be ruthless. I'll think of that next time I think of quipping in the comment area. Thanks again for replying, and best of luck with your language studies!