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  5. "Los pájaros quieren lluvia."

"Los pájaros quieren lluvia."

Translation:The birds want rain.

February 16, 2013



In this sentence, there is no need for a 'la' in front of 'lluvia', but in a previous translation, we are required to translate 'I like sugar' and it is considered wrong to not include 'la' or 'el' in front of 'azucar'. Can anyone explain why we should not include 'la' in front of 'lluvia' in this sentence, but we must include a 'la' or 'el' in front of 'azucar' in the other sentence?


You use the article when you are talking about a specific thing or the concept in general. You omit the article when you are talking about an unspecified quantity.

  • Los pájaros quieren lluvia. = "The birds want (some amount of) rain."
  • A los pájaros les gusta la lluvia. = "The (specific) birds like rain (in general)," or "Birds (in general) like rain (in general)."
  • Los pájaros comen la fruta. = "The birds eat the fruit." (e.g., referring to a bowl of fruit placed in front of them)


Why the "a" in the second sentence and not in the other two?


I am assuming that in the first and third sentences, "Los pájaros" refers to the birds in general, as in any or all amount of birds. A los pájaros refers to a specific number of birds, e.g "the birds out on the balcony want fruit". "A" is used to refer to a personal animate object.


Sorry; I used different verbs in each sentence, which may have made things a bit confusing.

Specifically to your question:

A los pájaros les gusta la lluvia.

The verb in this sentence is gustar which literally means "to please". A literal translation of the above sentence is:

The rain pleases the birds.

So, the structure of this sentence is a little bit different. In this case, the rain is the subject, and the birds are the object.

Since the birds are receiving the action of the rain, we use a to indicate this in the Spanish sentence.

Some other examples:

  • Ella tire la pelota a su amiga. - She throws the ball to her friend (su amiga is the object).
  • Lleva tu solicitud a la oficina en la mañana. - Bring your application to the office in the morning (la oficina is the object).
  • Alimentaré al perro después. - I will feed the dog later (el perro is the object; al is a contraction of a el).

As for why it's, A los pájaros les gusta la lluvia, and not La lluvia les gusta a los pájaros, I'm still working that one out.


The answer is very simple. By placing 'la lluvia' in the end we are answering the question "What do the birds like?" rather than the question "Who likes the rain". We always try to place the new information at the end of the sentence in all languages with flexible word order. When the word order is rigid as it it is in English we can either stress the last word in the sentence ("The birds like RAIN") or say, "It's rain that the birds like" to produce the same effect.


Got it. "The rain is pleasing to the birds". Gracias.


Todofixthis, Your explanations were good, but I disagree with you on two points. (You even differ with yourself, because you said the thing receiving the action is the object, which is true.)

In the sentence about throwing the ball, BALL is the object, and "to her" is a prepositional phrase acting like an adverb, saying where someone threw it.

In the sentence about bringing an application to an office, the same point - APPLICATION is the object of the action, and "to the office" is a prepositional phrase. This is the correct grammar in English; if there is some reason it has different rules in Spanish, I will check my notifications on my computer soon (the phone app does not notify me of posts about the forum).


If you rephrase the sentence "Pass me the ball" to "Pass the ball to me", the meaning will not change, and 'me' will remain an object even though it is used with a preposition. This is an example of an indirect object, whereas "the ball" is a direct one. The verbs that cannot take direct objects are called intransitive. "Gustar" is an example of an intransitive verb. It is true that prepositional phrases often function as adverbial modifiers, but when such a phrase denotes the addressee of an action, the noun or pronoun in the phrase is still an object. There are numerous examples of transitive verbs in one language mapping into intransitive ones in another. Likewise, subjects and objects often switch places in translation.


Thank you for that explanation of the ways other languages may handle that sentence, and I do understand that Gustar means "is pleasing to," so is handled differently than simple S-V-O verbs. I would not argue with anyone more skilled or knowledgeable in Spanish, and I do understand that I am taking the Spanish course.

I do like to point out what is said in English, because there are many people on this site who like to know what's behind the proper use or phrase, or the most natural use, heard in English, and have thanked me for providing such commentary. So, with that in mind, it would be VERY RARE to hear someone say, "The birds want rain." I will "report" it for that reason, not because it was wrong. That sentence implies it is not raining; the sentence "The birds love the rain," implies it IS raining.

If it IS raining, and the birds are enjoying it, one might say, "The birds love the rain." Or if it is NOT raining, but a drought, we might say, "Wow, look at those thirsty birds; we need some rain," or, "They look like they would like some rain." (Because as someone else mentioned, we don't know what goes on inside the birds' thoughts.) :-)


I wish I knew! I asked teachers in both Mexico and Argentina questions about this, and sometimes I got a clear explanation, too vague to figure out, and sometimes I got a shrug of the shoulder shrug and a "whatever, who cares look," with a smile. Sometimes it makes sense to me sometimes -- nada.


So... another sentence uses "querer" in place of "love", as in "Quiero mis hijos igualmente" (I love my kids equally). Why wouldn't querer be interpreted as possibly meaning "The bird love rain" here? I mean, both can work, but can we also allow love?


Yes. The RAE Spanish dictionary lists the second definition of querer as "Amar, tener cariño, voluntad o inclinación a alguien o algo." So it can mean love. But in common usage, it's only used that way to indicate that a person loves another person or animal.

If you want Duolingo to accept it as an answer, use the "report" button, not the "discuss" button.


Maybe they're seeking a second opinion before reporting something? If everyone just reported stuff they didn't understand DL would be a shitshow.


Maybe they're seeking a second opinion before reporting something? If everyone just reported stuff they didn't understand DL would be a shitshow.


I think that sentence should have been "Quiero a mis hijos igualmente".
With the meaning of "to love", the preposition "a" seems to be used always included after the verb.
But, in my opinion, "the birds love rain" would be "los pájaros aman/adoran la lluvia" or "a los pájaros les gusta la lluvia" (accurately "the birds like rain", maybe not accepted by the program), or as you want "los pájaros quieren a la lluvia".

As explained by @todofixthis, the article "la" is omitted in this case because of the existence of an idea of ammount implied. It seems acceptable.


I put "THE BIRDS LOVE RAIN" & got it wrong. I thought quieren can also mean to love


I put birds (not a specific number or specific group) love rain. It was not accepted.


I put the birds like hail & got it wrong even though it says that lluvia also means hail. What's up with that??


That hint should be incorrect. As I know, "hail" is "granizo".


How is "The birds like rain" wrong?


"like" would be "los pájaros les gusta la lluvia". Querer, used in this sentence, also means love.


"Querer" only means "love" when the direct object is a person. If the direct object is a thing (rain) the verb means "to want." That is a little simplistic, and I am sure the experts will elucidate this grammar point, but for newbies, it should suffice.


Is it the absence of 'la' befor 'lluvia' that explains why the sentence cannot be translated as "The birds love rain"?


How am i supposed to know whether to put a "the" in front of birds? It could be birds in general


I wrote this exactly as requested.


why "the birds" instead of "birds"??


"Traduttore traditore". "Lost in translation". The same topic once more!

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