Translation:Yes, I am a student.
Almost every kanji has multiple readings which are split into on'yomi (derived from Chinese pronunciation) and kun'yomi (derived from old Japanese pronunciation). As far as I know, thr general rule is on its own, or in combination with hiragana, kanji uses kun'yomi while when in combination with other kanji, on'yomi is used.
So, in this case, 生 can be pronunced nama when on its own, but in combination with 学, it uses the on'yomi pronunciation of せい sei.
Are there more than 2 pronunciations or additional kun'yomi, on'yomi sounds?
Yes, most kanji have at least two, but many have more.
生 specifically has more readings than most
The most common kun-yomi readings:
生 as なま is used for "raw"
生 as き is a prefix for "pure"
生きる as い is the verb "to live"
生む as う is "to give birth to"
生える as は is "to grow/sprout"
生る as な is "to bear fruit"
生 - せい in words like 学生「がくせい」"student"
and しょう in words like 生涯 「しょうがい」"lifetime"
This is why it is usually much easier to just remember the pronunciation in the context of the word as a whole rather than memorizing each individual reading of a kanji. Despite all of its readings you can see the connection of all of them referring in some way to "life".
(You can also see why Duo's audio troubles with not using the desired pronunciation when the kanji is taken out of context for the specific sentence gets a bit complicated)
Well, 生 can say sei, but it can also say nama. Kanji characters are pronounced differently depending on what word they're used in. When used in 学生 (Student, gakusei), it says sei, but when used in a word like 生意気 (Saucy, namaiki), it says nama. It's confusing, but you'll get good at it eventually.
...we are studying Japanese tho.. not English. Im from Finland and we dont have "the" and/or "a" we dont tell seperatly if there is only one of something. So i knew the correct answer and writed: I am student. My answer whas correct so Duolingp should have just auto corrected the mussing "a" in there.
That's true, and kudos to you for studying this course even if English isn't your native language.
However, because this is an Japanese-English course, the only way Duo can check your understanding is by looking at your English answers.
Judging from your English though, I think it's more than good enough to understand the difference between "I'm a student" and "I'm the student". So which one should Duo auto correct to? They have subtly different meanings, and Duo doesn't know that you know the correct answer is the first one.
I can understand your frustration, but at the end of the day, Duo is just a bunch of code and it can't read your mind. If you don't give it "the right answer", it thinks you don't know it.
Honestly the thought of not having an article surprises me. The difference between a and the is not subtle at all. They completely change the meaning. Imagine you are a doctor in the delivery room and you approach one of a few males in the room and ask "Are you the father?" and he responds "I'm a father." Obviously you'd know it's him because the awful dad joke, but if you had no sense of humor you'd be very confused as to whether he is the man you are looking for or not.
Yes, it's not a subtle difference at all. Japanese, being a more highly contextual language, takes advantage of this by relying on the obviousness to come through in the conversation, without anyone having to use articles.
Imagine the same situation in Japanese. As the doctor, you would say to one of the males in the room 「お父さんですか？」. I don't remember if this sentence appears in this Japanese course, or whether it's before or after the current exercise, but as a stand-alone sentence without this context, many sources would probably translate this to "are you my father?" Obviously, knowing the situation, this translation doesn't make sense and it should be "are you the father?" but that's how powerful context is in Japanese.
Continuing the situation, the man you asked starts to grin and looks sideways at one of the others, saying 「まあ、一応父です」. The man he was looking at immediately jumps in and says 「(to the first man)ちげーよ、(to you)俺は父です」, pointing to himself. You shoot a confused look at a third man who points to the second guy, saying 「父です」.
Hopefully, I don't need to provide translations for each sentence and you can follow along with what happened just based on the context, even though 父 just means "father", no articles needed.
Not a stupid question. In English, we use definite (the) and indefinite articles (a/an) for singular nouns. It seems a little redundant, but it's a feature of the language (unlike in Japanese and some other languages). They are not optional in English.
The definite article "the" is used to refer to something specifically. "That is the shirt I bought on Tuesday." The can also be used for emphasis.
The indefinite articles "a" and "an" are referring to something more generally. "That is a cat." If you said "that is the cat," you would likely be referring to a pet cat, or some other specific cat.
As a side note, a/an use is sound dependant. If the following word has a vowel sound, use an. If it has a consonant sound, use a. Generally, words with a vowel sound start with a vowel, and words with a consonant sounds start with a consonant, but this isn't always true. Two notable exceptions would be hour and unicorn, where you would say "an hour" and "a unicorn" because a/an is based off sound and not letters.
Yes, it's the same depending on the situation. I think people generally avoid specifying the subject unless it's absolutely necessary to get the meaning across. For example:
A: お前、学生ですか？ (Oi you, are you a student?)
B: はい、学生です。 (Yes, I'm a student.)
A: 彼は？ (What about him?)
B: はい、学生です。 (Yes, he's a student.)
です is a way to add politeness, but not simply by its presence. It has a specific grammatical role, which is filled by だ in informal speech. So you add politeness by choosing to use です instead of だ.
While it is sometimes omitted in casual speech (most notably after な-adjectives), you are technically speaking fragments of sentences which, by the context of the conversation makes sense (just like it sometimes works in English).
I think Occam's Razor is a good principle to have for these exercises when considering context. Yes, it can work sometimes in certain situations, but as a beginner, it makes more sense to try to learn the general rule, and only once you're familiar with it, should you go looking for exceptions.
Close, you should have used は instead of わ, though pronunciation-wise they would be the same. However, note that native speakers tend to avoid saying 私は as a matter of habit. Also, without です, it makes your sentence somewhat conversational/less formal, so you'll need to be aware of who you're responding to.
This happens in a lot of Japanese words, where vowel sounds (typically for す and つ) get left out or "crushed". Unfortunately, I don't know what the rule is for figuring it out, but there is one.
It's not necessarily incorrect to pronounce です as desu, but it's an accent type of thing, as far as I'm aware, and standard Japanese pronunciation is des.
Why isn't 私 before 学生? I thought 私 was required to say "I" or "I am"?
I think Beste_schurk was trying to point out that "yes, students" lacks a verb and です behaves as a verb in this sentence.
If you want to translate 学生 as "students", then subject-object agreement necessitates that the subject (and the copula in English) is also plural, i.e. "yes, they are students" or "yes, you (all) are students".