Translation:Are you American?
Both are correct. Japanese is a highly contextual language, but the format on Duolingo is to give you isolated sentences, i.e. without any context.
The Tips section says to assume the context for questions such that the question you ask is directed toward the person you are talking to, unless otherwise specified. Here on Duolingo, this means the topic/subject has been explicitly defined in the sentence itself, using は or が. However, in normal conversation, the topic/subject can be otherwise specified through the context of the conversation.
"Desu" is for verbs like "to be," in the present tense, so we use it for, "I am," "she is," "it is," "you are," etc. It doesn't specifically refer to the speaker, though that's what we've seen in most examples so far.
The "ka" makes it a question. "Am I?" "Is she?" "Is it?" "Are you?"
Hmmm. As a background 人 has two readings. (じん and にん) for On'yomi, and (ひと) for Kun'yomi.
This is not necessarily always the case but ... You use on'yomi reading when:
- It belongs to a multi-kanji compound words.
You use kun'yomi reading when:
It is followed by okurigana -- hiragana characters forming part of the word.
It is a stand-alone word (like the case of the above sentence in question)
It is a part of Japanese names and/or places.
I think アメリカ人ですよね？ is an acceptably polite way to say it (and probably the best without going over the top), but アメリカ人だろうね？ is quite informal.
The most formal version I can think of depends a little on the tone it's said in: 「もしかしてアメリカの方ではありませんか」 which sounds like "by any chance, aren't you an American?"
Sure. I think it depends a lot on your tone of voice, and these kinds of things are difficult to translate to English consistently.
だろうね could also sound accusatory, e.g. "I bet you're an America, aren't you?" Personally, I would probably use ですかね for "I wonder if you are...?", but like I said, it's incredibly hard to be consistent with these; you just have to feel it :)
Good try, but not quite. Your sentence would mean "The American too?"
Remember that the full sentence (of the exercise) is typically あなたはアメリカ人ですか？ where は marks out that you are asking "you = American?" In order to maintain the same grammatical structure, you need to replace は with も, in other words あなたもアメリカ人ですか？ This time, も does は's job and adds the "also" emphasis to the word that came before it, "you also = American?"
Note that this requires you to explicitly make reference to the subject, but it isn't considered rude to use あなた (unless you know the person's name, in which case you are expected to say "name-さん" to be polite). This is because the use of も is to emphasize the subject, and it's understood that you can't do that while leaving out the thing you want to emphasize.
Yes, this could be:
Are you american? Is she American? Are they American? Is he American? Are we American?
Without context we don't know, so these should all be correct. The sentence could be more specific in including a pronoun, but in Japanese it would sound funny, as the personal pronoun isn't used unless needed. In novels, for example, the personal pronoun may be given once, but after that it's assumed the reader knows who we're talking about. If you miss a personal pronoun in a book, on TV in the news or in a movie, you may be lost for a while until it becomes apparent.
@Seattle_scott has already given you a good answer, but I'll just add that the sentence is literally "American is ?" and as he correctly pointed out, a pronoun isn't necessary in Japanese even though it is in English.
However, the verb です / "is" is present and necessary in Japanese, and thus I would suggest that "American?" is an incorrect translation for this exercise. The implication (at least to me, via text on the internet...) of "American?" seems to be a confirmatory, not necessarily an information-seeking, question. Japanese has a different way of dealing with these kinds of questions (for example, using ね instead of か) which would be more appropriate.
I see. That's a difficult approach to take in Japanese-English translation. Japanese is often too context-reliant a language for the literal translation to sound natural in English, and in many cases, "natural-sounding" English may have subtly different nuance or even meaning from the original intention of the Japanese sentence.
To me, a literal translation is a direct word for word conversion and ignores any attempts to make sense in context; the point being a learning exercise to understand the individual components of the original sentence and how they might work together. While literal translation is far from being worthless (it's a vital stepping stone to developing one's understanding of Japanese), it is not and should not be the target of good translation. There is so much more to language and communication than the literal, and a lot can be lost if we try to adhere to it too strongly.
This is just my opinion of course, and I'm far from an expert in Japanese, or translation for that matter. But just so you know where I was coming from in my last comment :)
I literally wrote "Am I American?" and even if it is grammarly right, it translated me "Is he American?" and told me the one I have written was wrong, why? I know this is a bit weird question, but in japanese if you don't say directly the subject, you can always understand it by the context, here you just can't!
アメリカ = America + 人 = person - - - > American (person). ですか - are you?
アメリカから来ましたか - Are you from America? (literally)
OR アメリカしゅっしんですか - Is America your "hometown"? ie. Are you from America?
One is asking about nationality the other is asking about where someone is from, their country of origin, where they live or have lived or where they are visiting from.