Technically, ở just means "at". It can also be interpreted as "is at", such as in this case, or even just as "is" in cases like "ở trong" = "is in". To interpret it as "lives in" is yet another step further. Probably, in quite a few cases, you could interpret ở as "lives in", but in most cases you can't. In the case at hand, to say that the bat lives in the train station, you would probably say "Con dơi sống ở nhà ga." So maybe it's not wrong, but it's so rare and so much dependent on context that you shouldn't expect a course for beginners to accept it. Even in English, in some situations, "in" can be interpreted as "lives in", but also only in specific contexts. "I live in the Netherlands; he in England." But if you just see "He in England" then you can't know for sure that it means that he lives in England. An important difference is that "He in England" isn't a complete English phrase so you HAVE to guess what it means, whereas the Vietnamese phrase "Con dơi ở nhà ga" IS a complete phrase, so unless the context suggests otherwise, you shouldn't search any further for its meaning.
thanks for your answer ! But we ask again the dad of my wife (who live in north Vietnam), and when he hears the sentence, he translate first with "live". "is at" is also correct off course. But if somebody ask you in the street "bạn ở đâu ?", it's mean "where do you live" and not "where are you" if you are in front of him !
Well, yes, quite obviously. You wouldn't ask somebody where they are if they're standing in front of you. If somebody asks you "where you at?" that would be pretty much the same thing. :D However, when somebody asks you on the phone "bạn ở đâu" it's more logical that the missing word would be "đang" than "sống" ;)
The bottom line is that context is everything. And as far as I've seen, even more so in Vietnamese than in most other languages!
I agree with Albantar. As a native speaker, I would first think of "Con dơi ở nhà ga." as "The bat (is) at the station" while "Con dơi SỐNG ở/trong/ở trong nhà ga" as "The bat LIVES in the station". Your wife and her father may have lived overseas for a very long time and/or they don't regularly use Vietnamese in daily communication. That may be one of the reasons they told you that incorrect answer. (Just my opinion)
Sorry that I intervene, but as a complete beginner to Vietnamese language and even culture I am a little bit confused with such a sentence: are there bats at railway stations in VN?? My impression is that the wife and the father just can't figure out (excuse them!) that a bat be at a train station. My idea would be to replace the word "bat" with a more intuitive logical one (such as "man" or "woman") and to test wife and father again if the verb "live" is still possible for them! Thanks!
Well, I would say some bats do live in railways stations in Vietnam. The animals like dark places, don't they? Another reason is that railway stations in our countries are not like modern ones in developed countries: they're not well-maintained. I still remember seeing some rats running round my feet while I was waiting for the train to arrive. Lol!
Speaking about the woman and her father, I don't really know if they would change their answer if you replace con dơi (bat) with người đàn ông (man). To me, ở/ở trong means be at while SỐNG ở/ở trong means live at.
even so, you won't be using "rơi" to mean you fell, unless you actually fell from the roof of the train station. "rơi" means to fall from a high place, you would use with precipitations for instance (tuyết rơi, mưa rơi), or leafs in autumn (lá rơi). if you just tripped and lost your balance, you would likely be using "ngã" or "té".
It says, the sentence can mean "The bat at the train station" or "The bat is at the train station". Does that mean that in Vietnamese there is no need to put a word like "is" in the sentence? So you can say "There is a dog" with something like "Dog there"? I am complete beginner.