"Чем отличаются стол и стул?"
Translation:What is the difference between a table and a chair?
Can one also ask: какая разница между столом и стулом? Or do you have to use в чём?
Why is the article "a" required by this translation? Couldn't this sentence be referring to the two words стол/стул as opposed to actual tables and chairs? In English, talking about spelling, we could ask a child, "What's the difference between foot and feet" and it makes perfect sense without articles.
I agree, in english the sentence makes sense either with or without articles.
Oddly the correct answer Duolingo displayed for me used the article "the" in front of the word "table" whilstom omitting the article in front of "chair."
There is no translation for the word "between" (между) in this russian choice. I think, it would be better to translate this sentence as "какая разница между столом и стулом" or "какое различие между столом и стулом". In my choice all the words in English sentence have their analogs in Russian
If I'm not mistaken, чем is что in its instrumental case. Why is that used here?
When you use отличаться, the thing that is different about the two (or more) objects is in the Instrumental. It works for both structures, "A и B отличаются чем-то" и "A отличается от B чем-то". If the difference should be explained by a sentence you use a subordinate clause and start it with "тем, что ...".
- Часто для одного мотора предлагают несколько фильтров, немного отличающихся характеристиками.
- Мы мало чем отличались от других самодеятельных коллективов.
- Внешне сообщения на этом форуме отличаются своими размерами ― посетители пишут целые новеллы.
- Чем отличается плазменный от этого... от ЖК?
- Светка, чем отличается виолончель от контрабаса?
- А что такое китайское вино? Чем оно отличается от вина вообще?
- Она [комета] отличается тем, что у неё очень большое ядро―там от сорока до восьмидесяти километров.
There are a few other, less popular options, though.
I think no. It would be another sentence:
"Что отличает стол от стула?" or "Чем отличается стол от стула?" (the second one has the same meaning)
In the task there is a question about the differences between these two objects, but your choice has a question about the differences the one from another. They are about the same, but slightly different.
how would one say "how do a table and chair differ"? Как отличаются стол и стул? Or would one of them have to become an object
The sentence in the title is a good example of that structure. Translated literally, "Чем отличаются A и B?" is close to "In what do A and B differ?" but that does not sound natural in English at all.
Similarly, you could translate word for word "What is the difference between A and B?" → "Каково отличие (между) A и B?" but that sounds too formal and stilted, so I doubt we will ever accept it (if only for completeness).
The two structures are:
- A differs from B → A отличается от B
- A and B differ → A и B отличаются.
I think your meaning was fine but the grammar doesn't match the Russian grammar. If you had said "How do a table and chair differ?" this might have been accepted. Because the English verb is plural, like the Russian verb. And "how" can be a good translation for "чем." Maybe Shady_arc will comment more.
I used "What differentiates a table from a chair?" Marked wrong. What's wrong with that?
The Russian uses a verb to express difference here, but the translation uses a noun. My translation uses the verb differ, and uses "How" as the question word. In both cases, there is not a exact correspondence between the functions of the words, but my "How do a table and chair differ?" is marked wrong.
Wrongly, I think
Yes, I did report it. I've now reported about 10 wrongly marked questions, and had just one change implemented. Or, at least, I've only been informed of that one change. I suppose others may have been implemented silently.