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"What is flying in the sky?"


June 11, 2017



I think word order shouldn't matter. I believe that in fact, both 空に何が飛んでいますか and 何が空に飛んでいますか are correct given that the particles are used correctly...


That's true, but idk if the sentence is correct since movement verbs take a direct object (e.g. 空を飛ぶ)


for anyone getting this old thread. Duo's sentence is grammatically incorrect. The right particle to use is を as in 空を飛んでいる。


That's the problem, word order isn't consistent in the examples, but the quiz only accepts one or two outcomes for a given question.


Why isnt it sora-de since there is an action taking place, knstead of sora-ni


[rephrasing my old answer to hopefully make this clearer]

In this case "the sky" is not a space in which the action takes place. Instead, it is the location where something is, like a backdrop.

Although "flying" describes an action, note that the verb is not the simple infinitive 飛びます(とびます)"to fly" but とんでいます(飛んで居ます)"to be flying". It doesn't really refer to the action [of flying] but to the state of being [in flight]. Hence the use of a more static location particle.


I must admit the difference makes no sense to me.


As far as I know, で (de) is used only with action verbs. I have to admit that flying does seem like it would be an action, but flying is apparently not considered an action verb. Instead, flying is classified as a motion or movement verb in Japanese.

"Verbs like 行いく, 来くる, and 帰かえる, which deal with movement from one point to another, look like action verbs on the surface, but in their ~ている forms, they work more like change-in-state verbs"

So, then the question is, "What's a change-in-state verb?" "State verbs talk about how things are. They describe a state or condition."

"For verbs that describe actions (食たべる, 走はしる, etc) and events (降ふる, 吹ふく, etc), ~ている shows the continuation of an action."

"For verbs that describe changes in state (死しぬ, 割われる, 溶とける, etc), ~ている shows the continuation of a state."


It's starting to make sense to me possibly but only after looking at many other resources describing various uses of the te form.

This is long (60 pages) but potentially very interesting. https://faculty.washington.edu/ogihara/papers/Ogihara_teiru.pdf


me neither. I thought you would use に if you were flying to the sky, as if you left the ground and moving up


And I thought you would use を


If "ni" is used as a direction particle (go "to" a place, for instance), how can it be more static than "de" which is used for actions within a particular space? To me, "de" should be used in this context 100%, I completely don't see the point of "ni"...


If I understood what you said, that means that for the sentence "A bird flies in the sky", if you use the ます form: 飛びます (flies) or simple form: 飛ぶ then the common usage in japanese is to use を instead of で because most of the time the bird does not stand in the sky but is moving throught the sky and thus "鳥は空を飛びます". But, if you use the ~て-います (or ~て-いる) form: "飛んでいます" (is flying) then the particule should be に in all cases and thus "鳥は空に飛んでいます" because it means existing in the sky. Is that correct? Could you give references to that, because as far as i searched in books and internet i did not get this simple explanation (maybe I did not understand or missed it), or may a native japanese confirm it.

Hum... and what about "A helicopter flies in the sky" supposing the context that it is not moving???


I don't know the answer in Japanese but in English it should be "a helicopter", not "an".


You're right, I have corrected, Thanks a lot.


I have the same question. In fact, in the comment section of the previous question i got (とりはそらをとびます or birds fly in the sky) just explained that you wouldnt use に instead of を because it would be saying that birds fly towards the sky... so idk


In the sentence 鳥は空を飛びます(とりはそらをとびます)or "birds fly in the sky", the sky gets treated as the direct object of the verb.

You can compare it to the English "to walk the streets" or "to sail the seas". In the practical sense this refers to the place where you're walking/sailing, but grammatically the location actually 'undergoes' your action: the streets are being walked [by you]. More obvious examples of this construction would be verbs like "to cross the street", or "to explore the area".

This also happens in Japanese (e.g. 道を歩く(みちをあるく)= "to walk the streets"), where same construction can be used for "flying the skies".


So, why is Duolingo not offering を here?


I think that flying is considered to be a movement/motion verb rather than action verb.


Didn't we say that the particle for flying in the sky is "を"?


But when it's a plane, it's そらをとんで ...why the difference in particle?


It's a bird! It's a plane! It's ...


何がそらにとんでいますか also works


More complex and technically should be correct but isn't (と思う): 空を飛んでいることは何ですか。(T3T)


「何が空を飛んでいますか?」sounds much more natural to me. It could be 「空を何が飛んでいますか?」as well, although less emphasis on 何が. 「空に何が飛んでいますか」sounds odd to me.


I don't know if it's just me, of that this sentence is so misleading. It can be understood as "What is (the concept of) flying in the sky?" and I got really confused for a few minutes. Maybe I'm too open-minded. Lol.


Ive been reading every discussion about this topic but you will never convince me it shouldn't be "sora de" If Japanese people do not agree with me they are wrong ffs


Actually this is a really good question that I never think of. I tried many different and possible verbs using 'tori/hikouki/mushi ga sora de ...'; 'さえずる,' 'えさをとる,' 'あそぶ,' 'はばたく,' 'たたかう,' 'かんがえる,’ etc. It is interesting that only 'とぶ' does not fit there. Probably 'とり/ひこうき/虫はそらをとぶ-birds/airplanes/insects fly in the sky' by definition.


No で was available. How do we supply it?


You can switch to keyboard mode and type in Japanese directly if your device is capable of doing so, but in this case the sentence is using に, not で.


The question is why.


Is 空は何が飛んでいますか wrong?


Would 何が空を飛んでいますか work?


Accepted for me


Yes, it works well.


I tried "空を飛んでいるのは何ですか?" but it didn't accept it. Is it correct?


It is correct as a Japanese sentence and even more natural than the "answer" sentence in normal conversations.


Can you explain the logic here? I don't see any, especially in the part いるのは


Up until now it's been 空を. I wonder why this suddenly changed here. I'm not 100% sure, but I am almost sure I wrote 空に about birds flying in the sky in an earlier exercise and that wasn't accepted.


I wonder why this suddenly changed here

This sentence is grammatically incorrect. Japanese natives don't' say 空に飛んでいる、it just sounds unnatural.

This is probably an old sentence that wasn't curated by the contributors.


Why is 何がそらで飛んでいますか incorrect? Is it just because I used で instead of に?


Does it seem that 飛ぶ(とぶ)has two te-forms? What's the difference between 飛んで(とんで) and 飛びて(とびて)?


...The latter is not the the て-form of the word. The former is.


why cant i switch why and fly, while keeping the practicles where they are?


This comment is a year old so I'm not sure if this will be any use but maybe it will be useful to someone else...From what we've learned so far in this course, verbs are always at the end of the sentence/description, so they can't be moved around the way the others can be. I'm sure someone else can explain this better but I was annoyed that a question had just been downvoted and not actually answered XD


I organized the sentence as should be, and the app points out as incorrect ! Another bug ????

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