It is because of the gender of the noun совет. male gender - мне нужен совет, female - мне нужна помощь, neuter - мне нужно молоко, plural - мне нужны друзья. But you can use нужно with infinitive in the same case, for examle - мне нужно получить хороший/полезный совет. but it sounds much less common that the given phrase.
A more literal translation would be, "I need useful advice." (By the way, the "some" is not implied in the Russian text; it would be denoted, I believe, by putting полезный совет in the genitive case: полезного совета). However, we don't say 'useful advice' in English; we say "good advice," and the addition of "some" is just part of the normal colloquial way of saying this.
So, really, Duo has sacrificed an exact translation here in the interest of getting one that sounds natural in English (possibly under pressure from native speakers to do so). But new speakers to English would probably have no way of knowing this. Это позор.
Спасибо, Shady_arc / Igor. Я определенно не хотела это сказать! ;-) I thought at first of saying жаль, but I wasn't sure if it got across what I wanted to convey. Apparently, I should have gone with my first intuition!
By the way, can one say полезного совета "some advice," as I said above? Это правильно? I'm thinking of the example of 'хотите арбуса?'
That will not work. Совет is countable in Russian (think of a "tip").
Even with mass nouns the form of нужен will reflect the change of the subject. When switching to the Partitive/Genitive or an expression with a quantifier, "нужно" is used:
- Мне нужна вода → Мне нужно воды (a bit odd)
- Нам нужны деньги → Нам нужно больше денег (fine)
- Ей нужен сок. → Сколько ей нужно сока? (fine)
To my ear, Мне нужно воды sounds quite bookish, and with other words it will not work at all. It is best to use нужно with quantifiers. We do, however, use the Genitive with negation; it often sounds fine:
- Не нужно паники
- Ей не нужно объяснений
- Мне не нужно счастья, не нужно победы.
In colloquial speech, Мне нужно is occasionally combined with an Accusative when you came or called somewhere to contact a certain person. It is not the most elegant wording to ask for a person but native speakers do use it:
- Мне нужно директора.
- Здравствуйте, мне нужно Марию Сергеевну.
Опять спасибо большое, всё ясно. I was of course thinking of the partitive genitive, but I couldn't think of the name for it at the moment. And you're right, it doesn't work with countable nouns.
My Russian is a bit rusty; after all, it turns 30 next year, but has been mostly sleeping for about 20 of those. :-) I'm so grateful for Duolingo, and for helpful individuals like yourself!
No one in America would ask for "an advice". You're thinking of grammer rules that tell you to use an in front of words that start with a vowel, but in this case advice is somthing that you can (sort of) measure. Someone could give you a lot or a little advice, and you are just asking for some.
In my native language, "advice" is a countable noun too. Sometimes we use numbers with it, usually small ones, and say "I have X advice for you." I wonder if you could use the Russian совет the same way? "У меня два совета тебе [for the job interview]. First, be on time, and second, be polite."?
If you want a helpful opinion from somebody, my advice is to stick to "some advice" or just "advice".
"An advice" is something completely different.
In commercial correspondence, advice usually means information communicated by letter. It is used chiefly in reference to bank drafts or bills of exchange.
Here is a simple example. In the past, before there were ATMs, one could write a letter to a bank saying "please advise me the balance of my account". The bank would send a letter giving the balance. The bank's reply was "an advice".