"He has three older brothers."
It's a bit late - but any time I get a sentence wrong, I click the 'discuss' link... and there is a 'play audio' button at the top of the discussion page that will read out the 'correct' answer.
Note: there have been one or two instances where the 'discuss' link goes to the wrong discussion... can't easily report them, so just check it's the same question on the discussion page :D
I also copy paste into Google Translate. For Kanji, I use the tool here: https://j-talk.com/convert it helps to break it down into hiragana (or katakana) characters as well.
I use Evernote to keep my various notes about grammar, vocab etc so this all helps me to have practice pages of the most important terms and concepts even when I am not in Duolingo. If I am waiting around for an appointment, walking the dog, riding somewhere, I can open up Evernote and review. It has been incredibly helpful to me.
My instinct was to start this sentence 彼には, and this was accepted. What is the difference between saying 彼には and just 彼は? Are they interchangeable in this circumstance? I know that there are other circumstances where 彼には would not be appropriate but I'm curious if there is any difference in connotation here.
It's an issue of formality. Both "nii-chan" and "nee-chan" still mean brother and sister, respectively, but there's a difference in the nature of the relationship. The "-chan" honorific is incredibly informal, especially when used for anyone older than a child. They've removed the "o-" honorific prefix, which adds even more respect in a title.
So when you hear "nii-chan" or "nee-chan" in anime, you can generally assume it's a pretty close relationship or, depending on tone of voice, super condescending and disrespectful. (You usually hear it used in anime as the former though.)
Honorifics are great because they can tell you SO much about a relationship REAL quick.
It's the latter. 'He' is the subject of the English sentence "He has three older brothers", but not of the Japanese sentence, which is literally, "As for him, three older brothers exist." "He" gets the topic particle -は because it's what the sentence is about; but "older brothers" gets the subject particle -が because they are doing the action of existing.
more about the ～人 counter here:
So why does の exist at all, then?
[this is what's called a rhetorical question, because you seemed to be telling me that possession is only indicated with XはYがいます :-P]
[editing for clarity] So anyway, in my fevered imagination, I was trying to work out how to say "three brothers exist" and thought "かれのきょうだい" would be the way to go, and ... well, I was curious.
For when you indicate possession by a determiner modifying a noun, or by a proper noun possessing something. So, whenever you translate "his, her, its, my, your, our," etc. E.g., "my older brothers are funny", "I read your book", "Dr. Takata's friend lives here", "the tiger's coat is smooth", and so on. This "As for X, Y exists" structure is only when you're translating "X has Y".
'He' is the subject of the English sentence "He has three older brothers", but most definitely not the subject of the Japanese sentence. The Japanese literally translates to "As for him, three older brothers exist." 'Him/he' is the topic of the sentence here, meaning that which the sentence is about, and takes the particle -は; 'older brothers' is the subject of the verb 'exist' (います), meaning that which does the action of existing, and takes the particle -が.
I'm really struggling with the amount of different words there are for brother and sister. There's a least three for each (and I seem to keep getting them wrong). Not to mention the difficulties I'm having with he/she pronoun-type words as well. Duo has been great so far, but I really feel like I need a lot of outside help with this lesson group. It's been very discouraging.
No :( Don't be discouraged! I had some trouble too but you get used to it after a while. Here are some tips for remembering!
かれ (彼) is He. Notice how the Kanji looks like a little man (without a head :D oh no)
かのじょ (彼女) is She. Just like He, but we have an extra rib (that's a myth btw)
Now for siblings, there are four. I remember them like this:
あに (兄) and あね (姉) = Brother and sister
But these are a bit rude, so I can make them more polite by adding お- at the start. Like how we do this to sound polite about bathtubs (お風呂) and tea (お茶) too! :D Then I also want to add -san at the end which makes these even more polite (which is especially important when I'm talking about someone else's family):
あに = おにいさん (ani = oniisan) あね = おねえさん (ane = oneesan)
Now the pesky Kanjis:
いもうと (imouto/younger sister) = 妹 This one is easy - it looks like a girl wearing a dress
おとうと (otouto/younger brother) = 弟 See the horns? Because young boys are little devils
Again, I could add -san here to show respect :)
And the older sibling Kanjis:
あね (姉) or おねえさん (お姉さん) Looks just like little sister, but older (you can tell by her muscles!)
あに (兄) or おにいさん (お兄さん) Like a block head on two shoulders, because my older brother is definitely a blockhead!
I am also just a student so please do correct me if I have made a mistake :) These are just how I remember them, I hope this can help you too!
兄 --> あに is actually used with YOUR OWN brother, お兄さん is used for other people's brothers. Also, you would NEVER use the honorific ちゃん after お兄; ちゃん is an honorific that is used with only girls, typically young ones. Instead, you would use さん, which is a commonly used title that means "Mr", "Mrs", and "Ms". If you're having trouble with which terms to use for your own family and which terms to use for other people's family, look at the tips, it has a chart for all honorific and personal forms for family members.
I've been having several problems with this lesson... not sure whether it is my fault or the answers are not being accepted for being written differently.
For this one, I used "彼の兄が三人います" instead of "彼はお兄さんが三人います".
1) I understand I might have misused の instead of は. Is it actually an error? If so, why? My thought was that he "has" brothers, the same way other exercises mention "彼のお兄さんは高校生です".
2) Am I wrong in not using either the "お" before and "さん" after "兄"? I thought they were more like optional respect stuff rather than required... like when talking about your parents you can call them 父 and 母 instead of お父さん and お母さん.