You can make any English statement into a question with tone of voice ("going up"at the end) and that is true across the globe. It's usually used, as has already been stated, to show surprise. Ex: He failed the test. - He failed the test!? He's 30 years old and he still can't drive. - He's 30 and he still can't drive!? He got really drunk. Then he started dancing. - He started dancing?! When he thought he was going to die, he thought about his parents. - He thought about his parents!? but they were never kind to him!
All of those make perfect sense, all contain questions that could be statements depending on how you read them. You don't necessarily need a "question word"to ask a question.
There is probably a complex explanation regarding verb+prepositions / preposition+(potential)direct objects, and their possible relationships, but I think it is easier to just say:
Spanish prepositions don't double up. "¿Él vio a sus padres?" but "¿Él pensó en sus padres?"
This is just an observation, not a quotable rule that I can find, so if anyone disagrees please do.
Sometimes people in english leave out the questions starters like "will you, can you, did you try," etc and they use the altering of their voice at the end to indicate question is being asked, i think this is true in other languages, duo hardly use typical way of asking questions like in english
This is a really good question and I hope a native speaker answers. My thoughts until they do:
Yes, I'd say the order is optional, but commonly reversed in a yes/no question, so I think you are right that "¿Pensó él en sus padres?" would generally be more common.
With other questions that begin with a question word (por qué, dónde, cuánto etc.) the verb will nearly always come next before the subject: ¿En quién pensó él?
As far as yes/no questions go there may be some regional variation, personal preference, or emphasis that contributes to the chosen order. Native speakers may need to advise.
One thing I have heard is that placing the subject before the verb can imply scepticism/surprise, which would make "¿Él pensó en sus padres?" translate like "Did he (really) think about his parents?" We can employ the same statement question form in English to express the same scepticism/surprise: He thought about his parents?
That would make it past perfect instead of simple past. In Spanish, the past perfect tense is formed by using the imperfect tense of the auxiliary verb "haber" with the past participle (StudySpanish.com), so your sentence might be "¿Él habia pensado en sus padres?" (but a native speaker would need to confirm).
The implication of surprise that goes with that specific word order in English isn't necessarily present in Spanish. You could translate the Spanish here as either "Did he think about his parents?" (no surprise) or "He thought about his parents?" (surprise). In a real life situation or a literary one, tone of voice and or context is going to tell you which is the more accurate translation.
Read through this whole thread and you'll see that there are a number of subtle changes that could made to this translation.
If there is no subject change or mention of another person, it's safe to assume (especially in Duo) that "su/sus" refers to whoever was already mentioned in the sentence.
So this one is probably "HE thought about HIS parents"
But "su" can also mean "his/hers/yours/its" so Duo should accept those as correct translations.
In real life there would be more context - sentences before or after that would provide more information.
Also, if you wanted to clarify that "sus" was referring to someone else, you would probably not use "sus" and instead use the "de ____" contstruction.
"él pensó en los padres de ella" - he thought about her parents
If you are asking regarding the Spanish sentence then this is the standard form for such a question. There is no "¿Do/does/did ... ?" format in Spanish. For this type of question the statement form is just enclosed in question marks.
If you are asking regarding the English sentence then this has been well answered above. Although it is more common to use a "Do/does/did ... ?" format, the statement form for a question of this type is perfectly acceptable. In fact, the statement form is probably the most common in contexts where the question is seeking confirmation of a previous statement. Eg. Statement: "He gave his car away." Questioning that statement: "He gave his car away?"
I think DL is right to mark that wrong Pigslew, for the reason you mention. In the absence of a specified point in time "Was he thinking about his parents?" would require the imperfect in Spanish. Either "¿Él pensaba en sus padres?" or "¿Él estaba pensando en sus padres?" but not "¿Él pensó en sus padres?"
There are numerous responses to Gyenesvi's comment above that deal with this matter. To summarise:
The statement form of question is grammatically sound and is used in English. While it may be less commonly used when the answer is unknown, it is commonly used when seeking confirmation or expressing surprise.
I put [does he think about his parents] wrong. why is the correct Espanol sentence indicating a past action? I am confused.
Another question I have is since I do not know how to come back to this particular page to look for answers, is the point of asking questions to benefit the next viewers that may have a similar inquiry? I seem to be on some kind of an impasse here on duolingo, I'm hoping it's temporary and my brain will reboot soon. Not that #s are important to me but last week it said I was 57% fluent [no way] but this week it says 55% ?? thanks for reading.