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Consistency in requirements of articles

Hi Vietnam team. Thanks for this great course, I'm finally making progress on my vietnamese after years of living here.

However one thing which is driving me slightly crazy is a lack of consistency of where an english translation requires an article or not. I get requiring "a/an" when một is part of the text but there are other times where it accepts both or none while other times when it demands "the" despite it not really being required in an english situation.

it would be nice if there was a more consistent pattern or at least an explanation of why one kind of answer would be insisted upon in a particular circumstance. I get that this is not something which always translates well (as my VNese students weakness with articles attests) but a better guideline as to when the course will expect a certain answer would help us poor learners from some annoyance

July 11, 2016



Thank you for the feedback. I will pay attention to this when improving the course. Apparently, consistency, not just of articles but of word hints, grammar structure and so on, is still our major issue. Hopefully we can fix this soon.


I am adding to this as I continually am getting questions wrong with definite articles being required or rejected seemingly randomly.

There are of course times where classifiers are necessary and change as well. It's hard to tell if I got the answer wrong, or if the course is just rejecting a reasonable answer.

It makes it rather difficult to learn when you are given incorrect feedback. It's also discouraging to spend so much extra-curricular effort to find out that ~40-50% of the time you actually had the right idea to begin with.


I agree with Mr.ChrisKing. Check some of the classifiers too especially 'con'


Totally agreed. I just made a comment to this effect in one of the exercises, 'cause it (again) got to the point where my frustration was starting to boil over. (Comment #17041038)

To follow up on that and clarify a bit: there are three 'metalinguistic things', if you will, in play and which I don't think are being treated entirely consistently in the course, as it currently exists: the Vietnamese, the English, and the underlying meaning. As this course is currently constructed, when asked to translate to Vietnamese, one is graded on whether one understands the meaning of the utterance by whether one gives a certain English response, and those responses are expected to follow a certain pattern. (E.g., if a Vietnamese classifier is used, this course asks that you use the definite article in your English answer.) And vice versa, from English to Vietnamese.

The problem is that there does not always seem to be an exact correspondence in this triangle, and so knowing whether I, the learner, understand that middle part, the underlying meaning, can be difficult at times. The explanations of, I believe, TranVanHaiNam have been very helpful in getting at that middle part of the equation: the actual semantics that live between the Vietnamese and the English. For example, his explanations of how use of classifiers is sometimes really about distinguishing general and specific. You start to see that the correspondence Vietnamese-to-meaning-to-English is not as nearly as one-to-one-to-one as between many Indo-European languages, though the course, at times, tries to make it seem like it does.

These comments, I think, are the more important thing for a learner of Vietnamese to understand, not whether the presence of a classifier requires an English translation using 'the' to get marked 'correct' by the Duolingo site. 'Cause that's not really what it's about, once you dig into things a little bit. And these comments should be more the sort of thing included in the Tips and Notes, rather than what they currently consist of. Add on top of that that the course,as is, isn't entirely consistent on how it grades the patterns proscribed anyhow, and it can be incredibly frustrating at times.

Just a few cents.

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