Actually for the most part Duo uses a fairly unique set of sentences as well as a rather unique method of teaching languages essentially by only modeling correct usage, not teaching much grammar directly. And it is the same for all their languages including the English courses from many different languages including Spanish.
Yep, what lynettemcw said. This is why the masses (and their elected officials) are not equipped to decide on educational policies. DL's pedagogy is actually research proven. It may be very different from traditional teaching, but most schools have moved away from rules-based teaching. Instead, it's far more effective to give lots of examples for the learners to implicitly formulate their own understanding of the rules. That does appear to create many mistakes, but it's through those mistakes that we learn what is right.
If the translation were easy to understand in English, too many would use that device to translate and fail to truly comprehend the Spanish. (That's how many pick the correct answers in the multiple choice exercises. They don't even bother to read through anymore. They just look for the words that clearly don't match and guess by process of elimination.) Using unexpected words in common constructions teaches you to develop and trust your skill at reading and translating Spanish rather than rely on your recognition of obvious phrases.
Here, the proper discussion should be about the use of "a". Does it mean "to" and only "to"? Can it mean "with" in this context? Well, since no one asked, the answer is that "pertenecer a" means to be a part of (some group) rather than to be owned by someone. The latter misinterpretation is evident in some of the comments below. But, perhaps you all already knew this and believe the real issue concerns Duo's focus on potatoes.
I'm so glad this sentence finally came up.
I previously owned a 10% share in a single potato, but recently sold this investment.
Unfortunately, this left me unable to update my spanish speaking accountant on the current situation regarding my potato assets.
'Esa papa pertenece a otros'
Thankyou duolingo ;-)
What I would like to know is if this is actually how this is said by native speakers. Just because the translation is strange in English doesn't mean that this is not correct though I would allow for the potato belonging to 'someone else' or 'another' both sound better in English. Any native speakers please comment on if this is the way you would say this or not. Gracias.
In previous examples we learnt that in many cases, when in English we use the definite article, in Spanish it is not used. So my answer was "That potato belongs to the others." Which was not accepted. Without context, how do I know when to use the definite article or not?
You got it a little backwards, Peter. As a general rule, Spanish uses the definite article more and the indefinite article less than English. If you don't see the definite article in Spanish, you don't put it in the English. There are three different situations that may require an article in some languages. Spanish uses it in two of those cases, where English only uses it in one. The case where both English and Spanish require the definite article is where you are referring to a specific one/portion or set. That's the easy one. But Spanish also requires the use of the definite article when making generalizing statements about the "all". This is the one that causes the most difficulty for English speakers. It means that if something is the subject of a sentence it will require the definite article, unless it has another type of modifier that doesn't use one. In the third case, the case of "some", neither Spanish nor English use the definite article. The languages that do, like French, actually call it the partitive article, and it takes a different form. But Spanish has no partitive article. If you can add the word "some" to the English sentence without changing the meaning, then you know that Spanish would also not use the article.