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"A" "The" and "One" Similarity Change

In a lot of languages I am learning, most languages have one word for "a" "the" and "one" and there is no way to really tell which to use a majority of the time. If we, as English I know has this problem with too many synonyms, shouldn't Duo except any of "a" "the" or "one" instead of specifically one or the other? Is anyone else a little irritated about this? Can I recommend the change to Duolingo?

Thank You!

June 19, 2017



Could I have an example sentence? Of the two languages you're learning, Norwegian is always very specific about which article to use, and Russian doesn't use any.

With Norwegian, it's clearly 'a' or 'the' as the former precedes the noun, and the latter is attached to the end.


Not exactly. Some sentences (this is a random sentence I have made up) like "En hund spiser mat" sometimes the lesson will ask for "a dog" and sometimes it'll ask "one dog" and there is no way to tell which one it wants in particular as "en" means both "a" and "one"


How odd. Norwegian uses én and ett for one, but en and et for a.

If it's accepting both, you should be getting an 'almost correct' for the latter.


Yeah, I commented about én at the last comment. Regardless of if it means "a" or "one," it's the same exact meaning


You're probably missing the accent over the e when you read it.

Én with the accent means one. En with no accent means a / an.

Like English one and a, they have different meanings. One emphasises that you're talking about a single thing, whereas a shows that it could be one of several.


nah, it doesn't give me the option of the accented e in earlier lessons


It should accept both. Have you tried clicking on "Discuss sentence"? Nine times out of ten, you'll find the answer you're looking for there, because there's a good chance that someone else has already mentioned the same problem at some point :)


It's funny though, whenever I click on Discuss, the answer there is most likely different than the one I offered, but really the same thing lol


When translating the sentences (at least for the Russian course, which I've been working through) they do accept both "a" and "the" in appropriate contexts. Using "one" in such a place implies that the specific number of items is important, so it's only appropriate when the specific number is mentioned in the Russian sentence. Polish, which I'm also taking, has the same rule and also accepts "a" or "the".


I have seen that (as I am also taking both courses) but I do wish they did it for all the courses (especially my Norwegian course, because I can't tell you have many extra minutes I have spent trying to go through and remember which one needs specifically "one" or "a/the")


The Russian course accepts either "a" or "the" generally. However, what is conveyed by articles in English is sometimes conveyed by word order in Russian, so at times only one or the other may be appropriate despite Russian's not having articles.


The Russian (and Polish) Courses seem to be the only ones to do that. What I am proposing is that they do that with all courses (also, in Norwegian there is "En" which means one AND a, and there is "Én" which means one, only; it's getting irritating when Duo can't differentiate the two)


I'll defer to others about Norwegian. It looks to me like it might not be so different from Dutch, where "een" does mean both "a" and "one," but the spelling "één" is mandatory when the meaning is "one" and it would be possible to confuse it with the indefinite article.

Other courses without articles e.g. Swahili also universally accept either definite or indefinite articles for nouns (or they will ere they get out of beta).


Yeah, exactly like Dutch!


I like how you say there is no way to tell which to use the majority of the time, yet you use "a," the," and "one" perfectly in your first sentence (other than the ones in the quotation marks).

Anyways, here is a tip to figuring out which to use:

a/an: This is called the indefinite article, and it is used to refer to something non-specific. For example, if you want an apple, but don't care which one, you say "I want an apple."

the: This is called the definite article, and is used to refer to something that was already mentioned, or something that most people already know. For example, if someone talks to you about a king's chair, you say, "Wow, the chair is beautiful!" You are talking only about the king's chair, not about the other random chairs around you. Also, if you want someone to get into your car, you can say "Go ahead and use the car" and most people will know it's your car you're talking about, not some random car in the street.

Hope this helped a bit and I wish you the best with your language learning! :-)


Oh no, I mean foreign languages besides English, lol. My mother tongue is English but I meant for other languages, i.e. Norwegian. This would be very helpful for other discussions though!


The scandinavian languages, as far as I know, use "a/an" and "one" interchangeably, so either should be accepted unless something in the context makes it clear which it should be in English, such as "one thing, two things, three things" as opposed to "a thing, two things, three things". "The" usually comes at the end of the word. "En hund" is "a dog" and "hunden" is "the dog."

You can always report it if your answer should have been accepted.


Thank you, and yes, sometimes Duo excepts "En hund" as "a dog" and sometimes "one dog" so it confuses me when they are pretty much the same ^^;

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