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Translation from English into Japanese: A problem in the word selection questions

First: I am already able to read and speak Japanese, so this issue is not really a problem for me. But I think, it is one for beginners. The examples are out of my memory, so they may differ a bit in the real questions.

The issue occurs in the questions, where one have to translate an English sentence into Japanese by selecting boxes with words. I can understand, that the okurigana are divided from the stems, but a separation in the middle of a word?

This type of question is normal in Duolingo, but the way, it is implemented in the Japanese from English course is not optimal, I think.

The words are devided on unusual places. It is difficult to explain, so a picture shows more than 1000 words ;-)

Why are words like 男の子、女の子、女の人、男の人and some others partly or even always divided into there single characters? I. e. (男)(の)(人). Some other words like がっこう, まど and ゆうめい are always (?) devided into two boxes (ゆう)(めい), (ま)(ど) and (がっ)(こう) and one have to connect them by selecting them together in the correct order (of course) to answer the question successfully.

In English, it would be like (Scho)(ol) or (fam)(ous):

  • "These women are famous."
  • men e these ol house ous ar fam wo girl.

This is ridiculous, isn´t it?

And that´s not all: Sometimes, not only the words are separated, but even the sentences at any place:

  • There are a lot of men. (男の人がおおぜいいます。)
  • が ます ど 人 いい うるさい の おおぜ 男

男の人 and especially おおぜい are each one word and shouldn´t be divided. The stem of います is indeed い so it could and maybe should be divided from the stem.

So the selection boxes would be better something like

  • が ます ど 男の人 い ま おおぜい うるさい

I think, this makes the learning progress unnecessary difficult and should be changed.

June 27, 2017



As a complete beginner, yes, I certainly agree. I also wish the words in the boxes would be pronounced when you click on them — like they are in every other TTS tree on Duolingo.


I couldn't agree more. I think DuoLingo could benefit from these suggestions, as I too had found it funny when they split the words or the verbs in places where it didn't need it.


Hmm - I've noticed this too but it hasn't bothered me that much. Words with a long vowel like いもうと or おとうと are often broken up, so I am guessing that the goal is for people to remember to add the extra う.

I read yesterday (wikipedia, I think) that the average total length of stay on Duolingo is two hours. Not much! And I wonder if it's even shorter for Japanese - at least in my group, there is almost zilch activity. So from that perspective, maybe you have a point, and leaving words whole might increase people's stick-to-it-ness.


This is interesting: May I ask you, if you are a beginner in learning Japanese? Or did you have some Japanese knowlegde, before you used the Duolingo Japanese from English course?

And yes, いもうと is also one of these examples. But as I wrote: I think this makes thinks unnecessarily more complicated.


I've seen this too and it's frustrating. Even more so though, are when the kanji choices are ones I haven't been taught yet. Then when I look at the tool tip for the original sentence none of the words in there match the choices I have. I actually can't finish Time 3 because of this problem so I can't move forward with my learning.


I basically let those one sit until the end of the lesson when hopefully there's only one or two and I can get the answer into short term memory.

Hopefully, the contributors can work out what the problem is even when the only report option is "there's (some other) problem with this sentence."


Thank you for sharing your experience. That's what I thought. Because I am already able to read Japanese and know all the words and grammar in this course, it is a bit difficult to imagine, how this issue may affect an absolute beginner.

I really think, this type of question is not solved optimally.


I don't mind if stems and particles/suffixes are separated actually. I think it doesn't hurt to be forced to piece together the correct words from such pieces. And I don't think I mind having multi-kanji words divided into kanji, but I'm not certain how I feel about that yet... However, I agree that completely unnatural splits like "おおぜいいます" in your example, are pretty unreasonable.


I don't know. I kinda like the 'puzzle'​ thing. If the sentence has 'not go' You have to find the root iki, the polite mase and not​ forget 'n' to make it negative. I'm a beginner, but not complete beginner that I think it would be too easy otherwise.

Beginner as in I know hiragana​ and katakana, but not kanji, can say sentences. Not working much on reading, since my priority is speaking. So, Duolingo is a good way to make sure I don't forget the kana.


This is interesting. But I mentioned, that I understand, why the stem must be separetad from the okurigana. But single words? So you would also accept this also in other languages, as the example, I provided for English?

  • "These women are famous."
  • men e these ol house ous ar fam wo girl.

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