"There are bears and ducks here."
Translation:Здесь медведи и утки.
As a native speaker of English, I do not follow your distinction. The problem with this and similar exercises is that there is a valid distinction in Russian, but the English translations do not reflect these distinctions, since intonation is not indicated (unless one uses italics) in English -- yet that is what is being tested. It is really irritating to know what the Russian means and still get marked wrong because of someone's rigid idea of what the English word order should be to reflect the original Russian meaning.
It's not about word order in English. The distinction (in English) is between indefinite and definite references.
There is a difference between "a bear" and "the bear" and likewise a difference between "there are bears here" and "the bears are here". In English, as is shown in the above example, the difference is shown primarily with articles.
Since Russian doesn't have articles, the distinction between definite and indefinite is shown via word order. The distinction is equally valid in both languages, just manifested differently.
Hmm, I thought здесь есть would be used instead of just здесь for the English there are/is...here. If both of them can be used, is there a difference in the meaning conveyed? For instance:
- Здесь есть женщина = The existence of the woman is the main information being conveyed here.
- Здесь женщина = There's a woman but there's less emphasis on the existence.
Is this interpretation correct?
Makes no sense, as if you have not decided whether the bears are here or there.
The first "there" in the English sentence does not really mean "over there" as in "Put the umbrella there". It is just required by English grammar to express existence.
A more bookish way is a structure like "A sheet of paper was on the desk" or "Bears and ducks are there" (with an emphasis on the first part of the sentence). An even more bookish way tpo express it would be "In the forest there lived bears and ducks"—I do not think such wording is accepted in most Duolingo courses (it will definitely be rejected in a course for people learning English).
You're sentence would probably translate to something like, "There are bears there and the ducks are here." In English, "there" can have more than one meaning, and they aren't translated the same way. We can use "there" to indicate a location, and we can use "there is/are" to say that something exists. If you say "the bird is there", you're talking about the bird's location. If you say "there is a bird that moos like a cow", you're not using "there" to talk about the bird's location; you're saying that a bird exists (and that it moos like a cow). The "there" we use for location is "там" in Russian. The phrase "there is/are" that we use to express the existence of something is "есть" in Russian, but apparently it's optional in this exercise. I'm sure you've already figured this out since you posted your question, but hopefully this will help someone else.
Idea: Have correct and incorrect answers as per usual but also have a category of 'obscure' responses that are marked as technically accurate but tell you what the most common (best) ways of saying a phrase is and maybe even some description why. In this case "Есть медведи и утки здесь", would be marked as technically correct but would say that the word 'Есть' is not necessary for common parlance. "медведи и утки здесь", would also be marked as correct but would say that it really means "The bears and ducks are here" whereas putting 'здесь' first would make it mean "There are bears and ducks here".