Is the dash actually used in Russian writing or is it there only in Duolingo to help learners?
It is often used in definition-like sentences. The function is similar to the English "is", although it is not the exact translation of the word. The literal translation would be sort of "A boy - this is a child". Sounds weird in English but perfectly fine in Russian.
I thought it was referring to a specific child (ie. this): "это ребёнок." how can I know it means "is"?
- this child = этот ребенок
- This child is a boy. = Этот ребенок - мальчик.
- This is a child. = Это ребенок.
- A boy is a child. = Мальчик - это ребенок.
ah, so ребёнок is masculine, so it would be этот, right? and for this sentence, english speakers would drop the 'this', but it is referring to мальчик, but I see it's not specific to the boy, just the definition. How confusing, but I think I get it now.
I put in "the boy is a child" and was marked wrong. Does it have to be indefinite? If so, how would you change this sentence to a definite one? Would that be "Этот мальчик - ребёнок"? Or perhaps ""Этот мальчик - это ребёнок"? Or something else entirely?
"X - это Y" is a definition-like sentence, so you don't use it to describe a specific boy. It is like "A mouse is an animal", "Physics is a science", etc.
The boy is a child = Этот мальчик - ребёнок. Dropping "этот" would sound unnatural here. You can also say "Мальчик ещё ребёнок", like "The boy is still a child".
I don't know the impotance of (ы) and (ь) and the difference between (ш) . (щ) and(ч)
ы is i.
ь makes the consonant that is directly before it softer.
ш is sh as in shop or shoe.
ч is ch as in cheese or chair.
щ is shch sh+ch (ш+ч) together quickly, sounds like a hard SH
Here's a video explaining the Ukrainian alphabet which is pretty much the same in Russian. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ivOFPI5arwo
The previous question had me translate "a girl is is a child." I did not use это but used the dash, and it was accepted, so this confuses me. Also reporting that "the child" was not accepted.