That's wrong, unfortunately. It's unfortunate because Duo is adding to the considerable confusion already common among English speaker regarding use of the definite article.
Here if a Spanish speaker meant "food" in a nonspecific way, they would omit the article, just as an English person would do. Including the definite article means either (a) it's the food a specific food or (b) all food in all it's varieties and manifestations. The latter is sometimes described as the abstract concept of food in general. While that description is somewhat problematic, the point is that it would be about food as the most complete set of things we consider food. You would use this sense to say something like, food is necessary for survival.
The usage in this particular sentence is most definitely not that generalized all food sense of food. It's just about the food that was ordered.
Can you explain a little more? I have been struggling with the way in which using the definite article in Spanish and English is similar, but not identical and your explanation puts me on the right path, but doesn't quite get me there.
I think this explanation raises three possible scenarios:
(1) I ordered a specific bit of food.
(2) I ordered some food, but it doesn't really matter which bit of food or what kind of food.
(3) I ordered all food in all it's varieties and manifestations.
In English, I would use "the" in only the first scenario.
Are you saying that, in Spanish, "la comida" would be used in the first and third scenarios, but not the second? I think that's the pattern I've seen and the pattern that I struggle to master.
This question and some others need answering: pedir means to ask FOR so a) do not use 'por' the 'for' is already incorporated ( as in English 'request' does not have 'for'); b) hence the difference with preguntar, to ask (eg a question, not for something). The waste of effort though - the meaning of pidió is to be learned: asked for, requested, possibly in context ordered. Whether Duo bcurrently accepts or not you now have an understanding of the meaning....
I love Duolingo, and I do look at other sources for learning, but it would perhaps be helpful to teach us a whole new tense using verbs we already know first. I dont remember learning this one, so its like triple trouble introducing a) a new verb, b) a new tense, and c) a new verb that is irregular.
I'm puzzled by the root verb "Pedir becoming "pidio" in the third person past tense. According to Tips, an ir ending verb should have a replaced ending of "io". This should surely make the word "pedio". Thoughts please? Also, I agree with the general point others make about introducing new verbs here. Although I am now sitting with Google translate open in a second field and one can simply hover over the unknown word, think of the english present tense and find the spanish translation. It is proving a beneficial additional learning method as you get to see the alternate prepositions. I am discovering that words like sobre have a great variety of meanings. You might want to try it!
"Pedir" is a vowel raising irregular verb.
It also happens to be a model verb for the other verbs conjugated like it. Wordreference is a great resource. You should become familiar with the site and how to use it. http://www.wordreference.com/conj/ESverbs.aspx?v=pedir
You can also read more than you ever wanted to know about iregular verbs on wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_irregular_verbs
The problem is with the English phrase "asked for." The word "for" is not really a separate idea the way that "por" would be in Spanish.
Instead, the phrase "asked for" is a pair of words that are, when used together, basically one verb. There are a lot of constructions like this. They are really a combination of past tense plus preposition, e.g., "asked for," "talked about." I'm sure there's a technical term for this construction, I just don't know it. There is almost always a single word that forms a substitute, e.g., "requested," "discussed."
I don't understand why "requested" isn't an adequate substitute for "asked for" when translating pidió. I have never found "requested" to be necessarily formal. It's not colloquial, but its not strictly formal either.
When a dictionary gives you a list of English translations you need to examine the example sentences they give you to understand how the word would be translated depending on the context. And if your dictionary doesn't give you any examples you need to understand that there is no 1 to 1, or even 1 to multiple direct correlation between Spanish and English words and the translations provided are sometimes only there to give you a sense of the meaning of the Spanish word. Don't just look at the words, let the words create a sense of the situation and translate the situation not the words.
I find www.wordreference.com to be invaluable for figuring this sort of thing out.
Can somebody please explain what the "la" is for, or why the sentence is structured this way?
"Ella pidió la comida" in my head literally translates to "she asked the food", like she is asking the food a question. But that is just plain silly. How does it mean ask FOR the food? Is there a tip I can use to remember this?
Not sure if you saw the answer above your question but I'll copy and paste it for you because I found it helpful
"The problem is with the English phrase "asked for." The word "for" is not really a separate idea the way that "por" would be in Spanish.
Instead, the phrase "asked for" is a pair of words that are, when used together, basically one verb. There are a lot of constructions like this. They are really a combination of past tense plus preposition, e.g., "asked for," "talked about." I'm sure there's a technical term for this construction, I just don't know it. There is almost always a single word that forms a substitute, e.g., "requested," "discussed.""
Ah, I see. "She did ask for the food" accentuates "Did." For example:
"You don't have food because she didn't ask for it." "But she DID ask for the food"
However, in most every day conversation, "She asked for the food" is how you would say it. I assume that in spanish there is also a way to accentuate the situation above, so "Ella pidió la comida" would not be proper in that situation.
So, although arguably, TECHNICALLY correct, I don't think it should be counted as correct.