"Why aren't children at school?"

Translation:Почему дети не в школе?

December 1, 2015

7 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/servolock

Should "зачем" work as well as "почему" for this question? DL marks it wrong. If it doesn't work, why not?

December 1, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/zirkul
Mod
  • 1434

"Почему" is "why" in the sense of "What's the reason?".
"Зачем" is "why" in the sense of "For what purpose?", and as such, is better translated to English as "What for?". (And I don't think you can use "what for" in the original sentence.)

December 1, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/servolock

Well, using your translation of "what for" I can translate the sentence as "What are the children in school for." It makes perfect sense for some situations and it is grammatically correct.

December 1, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/zirkul
Mod
  • 1434

Except the sentence is about the children who are not at school - re-read the original sentence.

December 1, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/servolock

But that case works also, meaning "what is the purpose of the childrens' absense." There have been cases where parents held their children out of school because of fear or because lessons were being taught that the parents disagreed with. So, зачем, yes?

December 1, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/alexm768

The sentence "зачем дети не в школе" does not make sense. You cannot ask "зачем" with negation, only "почему", "отчего", or "по какой причине".

December 1, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/zirkul
Mod
  • 1434

I am afraid you are barking the wrong tree: I am not a moderator nor do I have any input into what translations are deemed acceptable. I simply explained the difference between the two words. If you feel your translation should be accepted - report it using the appropriate button.
That said, I personally would not accept it - you are still describing a possible reason, not a purpose of the children's absence. Just replace "because" by "for the purpose of" in your own sentence -- it would sound nonsensical, wouldn't it? That's exactly how using "зачем" sounds in Russian.

December 1, 2015
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