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With "Ela pensa nos cavalos" the preposition "of the" is translated as "nos".
Whereas "As maçãs das meninas" which is "the girls' apples" is translated as "das".
I have always viewed the girls' apples being the same as "The apples of the girls", which to me seems to be more strucurally similar to "As maçãs das meninas".
So in a way, das and nos both mean "of the"?
I really find prepositions to be confusing.
I'm not sure what exactly you find stupid.
Prepositions, like "in", "on", "at", "of", "about" and so on that come after verbs often don't translate directly to the most obvious equivalents in another language. Also Portuguese contracts some prepositions (like "em", "de", "a") with articles (the equivalent of "the" and "a/an" in English) and "nos" is a contraction of "em os" (on the).
So here's the literal translation of the sentence: "Ela (She) pensa em (thinks on => thinks of) os (the) cavalos (horses)". The point is you need to translate the phrase "pensa em" as "thinks of/about". Does that help?
Sorry, I didn't consider it a possibility. That's no doubt because I speak British English and this form is not used much outside a few set phrases nowadays. "Think on" is marked as North American dialect in this list of phrasal verbs related to "think" (skip over the definition part to see the list):
which could explain why it sounds as natural to you as "think on it" obviously does.
When Duo asks me to translate a phrase that is ambiguous, I usually answer with one of the first phrases that come to mind. (Sometimes I choose based on what is easiest to type, sometimes I try to second-guess what the deciders may have authorized based on comments and experience of the limits of this program.)
It has become apparent to me that I frequently speak what people here refer to as antiquated English, British English, or some other label to imply that my response is not valid and should not be accepted. (For the record, I am American, have travelled to England only once, but do enjoy British television and literature, am particularly fond of Shakespeare and children's books exploring the wonders of language.)
I don't know the theory behind the practice of deciding what should and should not be accepted as sufficient indication that the learner has understood the language under study. I have given up, for instance, on the idiom modules, because preference is given to English idiomatic expressions which I don't use and which are etymologically unrelated, making it an exercise in learning the Duo staff's preferred English idioms rather than a learning of the unique expression of the language under study. I contribute to discussion when I think my translation could be an acceptable answer that some decider has missed.
I see the dilemma in programming accepted phrases... if you accept "She thinks on a horse" to allow for when it expresses the image of a female with a horse in her thoughts, how do you mark wrong the same phrase when it expresses the image of a female riding a horse and thinking, perhaps on unrelated thoughts. My question then is this: what possibilities exist in the original phrase? Is it not possible to construe "Ela pensa no cavalo" as someone who thinks while on a horse? If so, then the ambiguity exists in both languages.
The longer you study using this method the less frustrating it becomes. You just have to see every out-of-the-ordinary, ambiguous or poorly translated sentence as a learning opportunity. The ability to chat about the translations, rather than simply accept them, is a major stress buster.
In this case I don't think I can add much to what I've already said. I believe "Ela pensa nos cavalos" can be translated as:
- "She thinks of the horses"
- "She thinks about the horses"
- "She worries about the horses".
I'm not saying your answer is invalid. It does appear that "She thinks (up)on the horses" can be added to the list (at least in the dialect mentioned by the dictionary) with the same meaning as the first two entries.
Interpreting the word-by-word translation "She thinks on the horses" as something like "She thinks while mounted on more than one horse" doesn't seem very natural and that probably means it can be rejected as a possible meaning of the Portuguese sentence too (or the possibility of ambiguity doesn't exist in the Portuguese version) but you'll need to ask a native Portuguese speaker to confirm that.
Yes, I can imagine reading some book which has "She thinks upon the horses". I really have a lot of sympathy for the people who decide which sentences to accept (I used to be one of them, but I have grown weary and too lazy to make these kinds of decisions anymore). They have to ask themselves "Should I accept this antiquated, although correct, sentence? Or should I just accept translations which are used in modern parlance and by most people?" Or should I accept this very informal, rarely used sentence?
I can't imagine myself ever saying "She thinks upon the horses".
But alas, we debate these details of language as a kind of sport I suppose haha ;)