"ירדתי במדרגות אבל היא לא הייתה שם."
Translation:I went down the stairs but she wasn't there.
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Eh, I wouldn't say poetic. I use it in normal conversation. It is not very common, but certainly not just used in poems. The thing is, people are subconsciously making their vocabulary more efficient; If I can say "I went to the store; I went up the elevator; I went down the stairs", all using a similar structure, why use "traveled", "ascended", and "descended"?
But above all, if it's correct it should be accepted, period. You should not be graded as wrong for something you got right.
Could someone explain why the pronunciation is "yaradeti" instead of it being "yaradti"? I am thinking it has something to do with the guttural "r" (ר) or perhaps there is a rule for when a "dalet" (ד) letter is adjacent to "tav" (ת) letter, which calls for an additional vowel sound to distinguish the pronunciation of these two letters?
But I am merely speculating, I really don't understand why the pronunciation changes from the normal 1st person singular perfect pronunciation.
"יָרַדְתִּי בַּמַּדְרֵגוֹת אֲבָל הִיא לֹא הָיְתָה שָׁם."
Not ר, it has nothing to do with that. It has to do with two letters ד and ת being next to each other. There is a shva under the third consonant, but it is pronounced "e", not to distinguish, but for easier pronunciation. That's all. The same happens with למדתי lamadeti and אבדתי avadeti and so on. This also happens when the third letter of the root is ט.