Why is monarchs not accepted? We don't know from the Portuguese if these royals writing said letters are all of the male gender because if there's even one male in the group then the male form is used. Shouldn't this be like how, without any other context, irmãos should be translated to siblings and not brothers?
Actually, that is an interesting point. In this case (and I am a native speaker), I would assume that «reis» means all kings and not queens. If you want to say "monarchs," you can say «Os monarcas».
That's true when interpreting - you are safer using siblings than brothers because you really don't know what the speaker means yet.
Am I the only one bothered by the literal translation of the use of articles? Article use is quite different in English and Portuguese.
What do you mean? Both «Os reis escrevem as cartas.» and "The kings write the letters." are perfectly natural sentences. Portuguese is not like Italian and French, where there must almost always be an article (even partitive articles) before nouns.
When you think of "Os reis escrevem as cartas," are you thinking of perhaps a room full of specific kings writing specific letters, or are you thinking that in general, kings write letters?
Another example from Duolingo is "Nos somos os ultimos," for which they are accepting "we are the last." "We are the last" is a strange sentence in English. If we are standing in line, or running a race, and want to express the meaning that there is no one behind us, we would more likely say "We are last."
But once you figure out that Duolingo prefers literal translations, it is easy to compensate for this.
Yes, with «Os reis escrevem as cartas.», I think of a specific group of kings writing specific letters. Article use is very similar between Portuguese, Spanish, and English, unlike in French and in Italian. However, you are right. «Nós somos os últimos.» should be translated as "We are the last ones," since «últimos» is, syntactically, a noun in the sentence. I suppose, "We are last," can also be correct, since one would not hear «Somos últimos.» very often (without the article).
hi ZuMako8, I'm not sure I understand what you mean by saying that article use is similar. In my experience both romance languages use articles more frequently than English.
In Portuguese for example, you can say "a minha casa," and you can refer to someone named Fernando as "o Fernando" but in English you would not form either construct.
In Spanish articles tend to be more frequent as well. For example, you could say "voy a la escuela," and in English that would translate to "I go to school." "Me encanta el sushi" would be "I love sushi." "Detesto el quimbobo," would be "I hate okra."
It surprised me that Duolingo would be accepting literal translations, although I can imagine that it makes life easier for them when establishing correct responses. I'll have to do the Spanish lessons to see what Duolingo does for Spanish.
Ah, I was not thinking about possessive constructions like «a minha casa». However, it is interestingly a colloquial thing to add the definite article in front of the names in the Portuguese language and, in formal writing, should never occur. Also, note that you can also say «Me encanta sushi.» and «Detesto quimbobo.» without changing the meaning at all. So, article use is similar in that, for most sentences like the two in the previous sentence (excluding possessives or adding articles before names), if the article is missing in English, it can also go missing in Spanish and Portuguese without changing the meaning. (Of course, you can almost always include the article and, when speaking generally, not change the meaning either, such as in «Detesto el quimbobo.».)
Now, in French and Italian, this does not occur. You can almost never say stuff like «Detesto zucchero.» ("I hate sugar." in Italian) or « J'aime limonade. » ("I like lemonade." in French) without the definite (or partitive) article. These two Romance languages are quite article-happy. This is what I meant. I hope to have clarified this matter a bit.
If you want to say "Kings write letters," in Portuguese you would say «Reis escrevem cartas.». You could also say, «Os reis escrevem cartas.» which, with only one definite article, would also be understood as being in general, exactly like the first sentence.