I thought it said What is eating the girls? Which I thought was something I would probably never have to translate. Hopefully.
Same, but I thought Duo Lingo wouldn't have that question so I wrote, "What are the girls eating." We would need someone from Russia to see if this translation could work either way.
- What is eating the girls? = Что ест де́вочек? (this is usually used non-metaphorically, i.e. some monster is literally eating them; if you want to ask why they are sad, you could say Почему́ де́вочки грустя́т? 'Why are the girls sad?')
- What are the girls eating? = Что едя́т де́вочки?
The difference is:
- Едят is a plural verb form, ест is a singular verb form. When что is a subject, you need to use the singular verb form. When де́вочки is a subject, you need to use the plural verb form.
- Девочки is a nominative case (used for the subject), де́вочек is accusative (used for the object).
Could this also translate to "what do girls eat?"?
I know... The context would not let me translate it to that, but I mean would it be gramattically acceptable?
This is correct and the translation I got from Duolingo after I did the exercise, so I do not understand why they marked you wrong.
Can "Что едят девочки?" also mean, "What is eating the girls?", because of flexible word order?
No. Что is used with singular verb forms, and «едя́т» is a plural form, so you can’t translate it this way. Also, «де́вочки» is in the Nominative case, which is used for the subject of the sentence. To make it an object, you would have to use the Accusative case: «де́вочек».
So, "What is eating the girls?" would be translated «Что ест де́вочек?». (Creepy!)
Only creepy if you take it literally. "What's eating them?" is an idiomatic way of asking what is causing their sad mood.
EDIT: That being said, idioms can often be lost in translation when translated literally, so perhaps the better question is how would the same sentiment be expressed in Russian?
Oh, that would probably not be expressed with "ест". "Что их снеда́ет?", with a older and more poetic word "снеда́ть", will work in that meaning, but not "ест".
(Or if you don't need the eating metaphor, you could simply ask "Почему́ они́ грустя́т?" or "Почему́ они́ гру́стные?" 'Why are they sad?'.)
Sounds somewhat less natural than «что едят девочки», not sure why.
If I've understood comments in other threads correctly that would shift the emphasis of the question from the girls to what they were eating would it not? In English such an emphasis would usually be used to express disgust, or disbelief at the nature of what was being eaten. Would such a thing translate like that? (or am I completely off track?)
You don't. Что 'what?' is grammatically singular, but it can refer to either one or several entities. (The same is true for кто 'who?').
Actually, this is same as in English: you say 'who eats the rice' and never 'who eat the rice', because who and what can't take plural verb forms. However, 'who eats rice?' doesn't imply there's only one person eating the rice; so it's grammatically singular, but can refer to one or several entities.
This course does support Cyrillic. It's just not enabled by default for whatever reason.
While you're in a lesson, there's a button that looks like [Aa]. Click that and the writing will change to Cyrillic.
I was at level six and I had never seen the cyrillic transliterated to the Latin alphabet before this lesson. If it happens again, I'll look for the button you speak about. Thanks.
There's a gray toggle sliding button on the right of the 'Tips & Notes' section for each question. Just slide it to the right from Aa to Яя to get the sentences in Cyrillic form.
I love Duolingo it is amazing and I am learning Russian and I play with my next door neighbour's cat
i still can hear the s soud is it a problem in my computer? что sounds like sto why not tchto?
This is an interesting question. "What are girls eating?" sounds odd by itself, but "What are girls eating nowadays?" for example is ok and asks about all girls in general. The present progressive without an additional time adverb makes it a specific question, implicitly about a certain bunch of girls, so the definite article corresponds. In simple present, "What do girls eat?" is completely fine and, again, is about all girls.
The sentence has no demonstrative adjective. Your sentence would generally be "Что едят эти девочки?"