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  5. "Yes, let them open it."

"Yes, let them open it."

Translation:Ja, sollen sie es öffnen.

January 23, 2013



I don't understand why "sollen sie" is used here instead of something like "lassen sie". Can anyone explain?


I think "lassen" would be better, if the Enlish sentence contains "let"


I think sollen is used in the same way it would be in the following in English:

To say, 'let them open it' as opposed to me. I'm not opening it, they should open it. Let them open it, not me.

Or similar ways we use should sometimes. That's how it makes sense, I think.


They now allow "Ja, lassen Sie sie es öffnen."


I just did it and lassen sie was not accepted. I do see the reasoning behind sollen sie, but lassen seems still more close to the original.


See the explanation later in this thread from rmatz that starts with "Ok" and references her "GerMan! In short, the sentence is a command addressed to "du“ rather than to “sie“. The command form for "du" is "lass".


:-) Aww! Thanks.


I do strongly agree, "lassen" feels so much more natural here. I can't remember any occasion on which I would meet "sollen" in such context,


I thought it should be 'lassen sie'', too, but then my husband explained that the reason it feels right is I was thinking that 'them' is 'sie' and it's not, it is 'Ihr'. 'Sie lassen' is 'they let'. 'lasst Ihr' is 'let them'. You wouldn't say 'let they open it' in English.


Can you explain why it wouldn't be "Ja, dürfen sie es öffnen"? As I understand it, that means, "Yes, allow them to open it" which, to me, is more accurate than "Yes, they should open it." Or is this the same Ihr/sie problem you discuss above?

Thanks rmatz. ☺


''Allow them to open it'' is perhaps a more direct translation and it isn't wrong I think, but it sounds a bit stilted in English, so the ''let them open it'' is used as it means the same and has a more natural sound (that is my take on it).


If I come across this one again, I'll report it. Thanks so much.


My native speaker is being stubborn right now. I am not 100% sure that dürfen works here, but based on what I said earlier I don't see why not. I am told that the syntax is not good in the German and ''lassen'' is better than sollen or dürfen.


Could you further explain this? I'm quite confused. Was wäre der Satz dann?


'Sie'='they' and 'Ihr'='them'. The sentence was, 'Yes, let them open it.' So, you need the word for them, not they. When you use 'Ihr' you conjugate lassen as 'lasst'. So, ''Ja, lassen sie es öffnen.'' is wrong. ''Ja, lasst Ihr es öffnen'' is right if you use the verb ''lassen''.

However, when you use ''sollen'' it is switched around a bit in the English back to 'they''. Duolingo seems to accept ''sollen'' for the English sentence given, but the true English version of ''Ja, sollen sie es öffnen'' is ''Yes, they should open it.'' In that case the pronoun is ''they'' and uses ''sie''. At least that is my understanding of what has happened.

Considering all of that, I would say ''lassen'' is the better verb choice for a more direct translation. It seems, though, often translations use equivalent sentences rather than translated ones. I see that a lot here on Duolingo.

I hope this helps.


How is "sollen sie" "let them"?? Thanks.


It's not a direct translation. ''Let them open it'' or, ''They should open it'' both mean about the same thing in that context. They should open it. Not me. Let them open it.'


Let and should mean totally different things.

"I think they should open the gate, but I won't let them. It's my duty to keep this gate shut, regardless what I think."


In most cases, yes, but in this case, they have similar meanings. Imagine saying it like this: "Let THEM open it." = "THEY should open it."


Or permit - dürfen - or - erlauben. Sollen looks like - Yes, they should open it.


I find everything strange here. I don't understand if the German word order should state an imperative, and similar.


My understanding is that since this is an imperative, it has the word order of a question. Hence, "sollen sie" instead of "sie sollen".


For the formal 'you' case, imperatives are the same as a question. For other persons, there are seperate rules. http://www.dartmouth.edu/~german/Grammatik/Imperative/Imperativ.html


I lost a heart entering 'Ja, dürfen sie es öffnen'. Is it a valid phrase in German and what would it mean if not the thing that is asked?


Someone more knowledgeable should probably answer but: a) I don't think you reverse the verb and pronoun in this case (i.e., after "ja, ") b) That would make it "Yes, they may open it", I think.


In this case, putting duerfen before sie makes it imperative. What I wonder though is why it isn't "Ja, duerfen Sie es Ihnen oeffnen."


Dürfen is a modal verb so it doesn't have an imperative form: http://de.wiktionary.org/wiki/d%C3%BCrfen_(Konjugation)#Imperativ

Sie dürfen es öffnen -- you may open it, you are allowed to open it.

Dürfen Sie es öffnen? -- may you open it, are you allowed to open it?


Dürfen Sie es öffnen! -- Be allowed to open it! <-- doesn't really make sense.

I think the confusion here is arising from the distinction between dürfen (to be allowed) and erlauben (to allow).


ihnen is the dative form of them. sie is the nominative form of they, but sie is also the accusative form of them.

[deactivated user]

    "Ja, sollen sie es öffnen" is the correct answer. shouldn't it be reversed then?


    "Ja, lassen sie es öffnen" ist falsch?


    I totally disagree with the use of Sollen here. It's very confusing


    That is German for you. There is a lot in English that doesn't make sense to others, either. I mean, when someone asks you ''What do you do?'' how are you supposed to know that means for a career or the same as ''What is your job?'' ??? :) It is useless to ''disagree''. Just learn.


    Cf. "How do you do?" as a greeting.

    I sometimes like to throw people off by interpreting it literally and either replying with "Do what?" or "I don't really know what I'm doing, much less how I'm doing it."


    Socrah and all, I used "Lassen sie es oeffnen" and the only thing marked "incorrect" was the form of "lassen." The correct form, according to the exercise, if "lassen is used, was "Ja, lasst sie es oeffnen." So I guess "lassen" can be used. But, why it is not "Lassen sie" I am not learned enough to understand.


    I have the same question: why not "lassen sie"?


    This is not a literal translation. They are translating one expression into another. "Yes, they should open it." into a more common sentence in English.

    "Let them open it." implies that I am talking to "you" and asking you to let them open it. In the German imperative, you must include the formal you "Sie" after the verb to make it imperative and you would then need to put "sie" or "they" into the form "them". "Lassen Sie sie es öffnen." (I believe lassen takes the accusative. A dative verb would take "ihnen" for "them".) I wonder if it would be acceptable to say "Lassen Sie es sie öffnen." ? or would that change it to "Let it open them." ?

    It looks as though they are suggesting you use a different form of "you". Looking at that, I know I would. Both the "du" form of "you" and the "ihr" form of "you" do omit the subject in the imperative. http://german.about.com/library/blcase_sum2.htm http://www.dartmouth.edu/~german/Grammatik/Imperative/Imperativ.html

    "Should they open it?" or "Should I let them open it?" "Yes, they should open it." works for both and I think is clearer as a "yes" answer to this question than "Yes, let them open it." Almost like, "Go ahead let them. They should open it."


    Agreed; however, to clarify:
    > imperative forms of lassen include lass and lasse (with du) and lasst (with ihr), and not just the polite form Lassen Sie.
    > "to allow" should probably be more properly interpreted as the composed form zulassen (see http://www.dict.cc/?s=lassen and http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/zulassen )

    Lassen does take an Akkusativ object (not Dativ). See http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/lassen#German. Compare with helfen, gefallen, danken, etc. (http://german.about.com/library/verbs/blverb_dativ.htm)


    It would be really nice to hear from an admin on why "Ja, sollen sie es öffnen" has to be the right reply (in multiple choice, "lasst sie es öffnen" is not an option). "Let them open it" isn't an imperative in English so "sollen sie" sounds really weird, more like "they must" (shall and should can't be used in the imperative in English so sollen is not an obvious choice at all). Again, it would be nice to hear from an admin - hard to report things when you don't understand the reasoning. Especially given that we haven't actually learnt the imperative yet at this point!


    Edited to remove an incorrect answer. The link, however, might be helpful for others so I am leaving it. http://german.about.com/library/verbs/blverb_lassen.htm


    Doesn't actually answer my question, which was was why is "ja, sollen sie..." correct.
    And in any case I can see from previous commenters that "Lasst sie" and/or possibly "lass sie" is accepted in non-multiple choice, and according to the link you gave it's perfectly correct: Lasst sie... means "you all let them..." (imperative form) Lass sie means "you let them" (imperative form) My interest is in why that option isn't given in multiple choice while something obscure and as yet unexplained is.


    My understanding of the table was wrong then and my husband was not around to explain it at the time but has since done so (I thought it seemed that the conjugation was wrong but I read it incorrectly). I will delete my comment to not mislead others. However, you could have pointed that out without the downvote. We are all learning here. I honestly thought the table answered the question.

    However, while my certainty of the conjugation might have been a bit flawed, I can assure you the use of ''sollen'' is not obscure. It is normal and natural to German speakers. The answer, then, is that it is ''sollen'' because that is what Germans might use to express this idea. That may sound like a cop out answer and everyone is frustrated because it doesn't feel right to us, but the way Germans use ''sollen'' is very different than the way we use ''should''. So, the simple answer is it is right because that is what people who speak German would say.

    You are right, though, that your sentence should have been accepted as it is also a possible correct answer. It is not, however, any more right than using ''sollen''. I think a lot of people have reported it. You should too if you feel strongly about it. You will, however, continue to be very frustrated if you expect the German language and word choice to fit in with English ways of thinking. It feeling weird because of how it would be in English means almost nothing, really. Only that we all (myself included) sometimes have to accept that that is just how it is said in German and be done with it. I had a really difficult time doing that when i first moved here.


    Don't let down votes upset you. It shouldn't be construed as voting against you, just disagreeing with your comment. I guess it's easier than leaving the arrows alone and actually responding to your comment. (I hope you're feeling more comfortable with your move, it takes time.)


    Thank you :) I've been here seven years, lol. I am grateful for much and it is much better than at first, but the homesickness is always there, lurking. I appreciate your words of encouragement!


    hi, i can't see on this link where "lassen" is conjugated to "lass" in use with "sie" (as "them") I'm confused here because as far as i have learned so far, it should conjugate to "lassen sie" not "lass sie" (for "them") but i answered "lassen sie es…" and it marked me wrong giving a correct answer of "lass sie es…"????


    Okay, so my GerMan is finally not in a bad mood from grading high school finals and has given me a reasonable answer for why it can be "Lass sie". The problem is that the subject with which the verb "lassen" is conjugated here is not "sie", but "du", which is implied. This is also using the imperative. So, it is really ''Lass (du) sie es..." The "sie" in this case then is the direct object and answers the question "wen"/"who", rather than the subject.

    I asked why, then, could it not also be "lassen (Sie) sie es..." but he said it didn't feel right. I suspect that this kind of imperative is rarely used in a formal setting. I can't imagine using the imperative (which is kind of like a demand, though not always) to my boss or someone to whom I am trying to be respectful. He says it is done, but conceded that often imperative is conjugated with the implied subject of "du".

    I hope this helps/makes sense!

    Linked below is more on the imperative in German ("Lassen" is discussed not far into the text). This seems to imply that it is used in formal situations, too. I suppose there could be a formal imperative version of the sentence in question, but Duo obviously hasn't registered it yet; if it is even one that would be used.



    Endlich! Vielen Dank.


    oh my goodness! Yes that exactly explains it, thank you to you and your hubby. It seems to be taking me longer and longer time staring at a sentence trying to find which of the hundreds of rules could be implied -and all the ghosts (the du here) that are hiding in it, before i can take a stab at translating it; will get there one day! Thank you again for your help, so very much appreciated!


    My pleasure. It always helps me learn and retain to find out and then try to explain to others. It was good for both of us! And, yes, you'll get there one day :)


    I will ask my husband when he is in a better mood and get back to you. I have a feeling it has to do with a special type of speech or Duo is wrong. I would not have used 'Lass' either. 'I will try to get back to you in the next couple of days. If I forget, just comment again and I will get an email reminder.

    If anyone has the answer in the meantime, feel free to help!

    *I think it might be right, but for a reason I don't know. I googled ''lass sie'' and it gave quite a few results, but I haven't found one that explains why yet.



    Can we use erlauben in this sentence? If so how would we use it? Could "Ja, erlaub sie es öffnen" work?


    I think this may be more of an idiomatic expression, maybe it's just the way it's said in German and there's no direct translation. Though I do not know if erlaub would be a substitute for sollen.


    I think that with 'erlaub' there is an expression more formality, as though permission had been required first, more equivalent to "Permit them to do it. 'Sollen' is less restrained as in "Let them do it".


    I think to use erlauben, we need the imperative form: erlaubt. Additionally, sie needs to immediately precede the infinitive öffnen so that it is clear we mean they are the ones opening something.

    So, "Ja, erlaubt es sie öffnen." ==> "Yes, [you] allow it, them to open" in a weird, back-referential way.


    Then, how do you say "Yes, [you] allow them to open it."? We also want to express that "they " are the ones opening "it ", because that is more information than just "opening" which could mean more than one thing. In German, does switching which pronoun goes first really give one of them to the previous verb? I would really like to hear from a native German on this. I would be afraid that we were now saying "Yes, [you] allow it, to open them."


    Both the 'it' and 'them' are in the accusative? I thought the 'it; would be in the dative, as its being acted upon by the direct object?


    Die Eule sagte:

    • "Ja, lass es sie öffnen." oder
    • "Ja, sollen sie es öffnen."

    Meine Antwort war "Ja, erlauben es sie öffnen" und die Eule sagte das ist falsch.

    Ist es erste oder ist sie erste. It is shown both ways. My best guess is that es is first. The Owl marked only my use of erlauben wrong. I suppose I should have used erlaube.

    It appears the sie is them. The verb, in the imperative, does not require the "You" to be stated, so the sie is not the formal Sie.


    following, keep conversation up


    It told me "Lass sie es öffnen".

    [deactivated user]

      would „Ja, darf sie es öffnen” be wrong? darf is allow, which is the same as let.


      The grammar aside, without context none of the proposed answers made sense. The English sentence alone would be interpreted by most English speakers to mean "allow them" to open it, not "they should" open it (so let them). Another poor sentence.

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