Olimo, I had answered: The dog is lying on the ground. I was under the understanding that "dog" being the subject to place it in the beginning of the sentence when translated, which I did. So my question is did I get it wrong for using the word "the" instead of "a"? If so why? thanks for your time.
Are you sure about that? I’ve only ever been told that definite and indefinite articles in Russian are only identifiable by context (at least without adding words like этот). So the moderators just haven’t yet for this exercise added the translation. Could you point to an official rule for how sentence arrangement determines definiteness in Russian? Thanks.
I do not know if there is a rule about that, but I think Kundoo is right.
But try to answer the question:
"Что собака делает?"
(What THE dog is doing) using those two answers:
- На земле лежит собака.
- Собака лежит на земле.
I believe only the second one implies the definite article.
Well, you just provided a context that does not exist in this exercise. What it sounds like to me is happening is that without a rule, either translation is perfectly acceptable, though some people will have their own preferences. This happens all the time when people explain English, so this effect is familiar. I will hear my countrymen say this is right or wrong—often emphatically—while themselves being wrong. For I will often use English in ways they believe is incorrect because of their own limited experience but which happens to be perfectly valid. Language is a funny thing. Where the rules end, we have much liberty. I like this liberty and find it artful; though you may be right, I am not inclined to trust you until I see the rule in this case, as even other places in the Duo forum and other Russian language websites seem to go against what you’re saying. Without the rule, either way must be correct.
So even if your native language is Russian, I am not inclined to believe you until I see the rule, and that’s the way it should be, that’s the way language works.
In English, yes you do change the article only.
But your sentence is:
The dog is lying on the ground = Собака лежит на земле
While DL sentence:
A dog is lying on the ground = На земле лежит собака
So by changing the article A/THE in English you are getting two different sentences in Russian