"He led us to the train station."
Translation:Er führte uns bis zum Bahnhof.
Bis zum: This is somehow an end, the person that led you there leaves or stops leading or something. Its until you reach the estimation Bahnhof and then the action ends or something else changes.
Zum: A more neutral way and would be used if the person leads you somewhere else afterwards AND also when its just to the Bahnhof, then both could be used, but this does not transport the information that then the action ends.
English does not have a simple way to indicate the action has ended, so when translating from English both "bis zum" and "zum" would be acceptable depending on your intended meaning in German. If you are translating from German and read "bis zum", then you can translate it simply as "to" even though it has a more specific meaning in German than it does in English.
There is no verb fuhren in German, so er fuhrte doesn't mean anything.
er führte uns zum Bahnhof means "he led us to the train station".
er führte uns in den Bahnhof means "he led us into the train station".
In the first case, the leading ended outside the train station, when you were "at" the train station; in the second case, the leading ended inside the train station, when you were "in" it.
I'm interested in the case-marking of the destination in this phrase versus this one:
"Ich führte den Richter in die Stadt"
Is it correct to say that the destination is dative here because it has an endpoint, whereas in the example for this question, the action stops at the destination? Also, does "bis zu" always force the dative case?
zu always takes the dative case, including when it's in bis zu.
Ich führte den Richter in die Stadt uses the accusative case after in because die Stadt is the destination of the motion führen -- I led the judge into the city.
If you had used the dative, Ich führte den Richter in der Stadt would mean "I led the judge in the city", i.e. die Stadt is not a destination of movement but is just a location: the leading took place entirely within the city. Presumably you led him around in the city -- but you did not lead him from outside the city to the inside.
Okay, may someone explain it to me, 'cause I'm not native on both of this languages and I'm lost. When I hear "er führte uns" I instantly think "He drove us". Whereas when I hear "He led us" I think about showing someone a direction, like talking someone by the hand and walking with him to show him the way. Why led is translated to führte? What am I missing?
My first thought was to translate "Er fuhr uns bis zum Bahnhof". Is it really a total mistake, or could it be somehow correct?
Your sentence would be grammatically correct, and a wrong translation for "He led us to the train station."
It would have been fine as a translation if Duolingo's sentence had been "He drove us to the train station."
That's a good question, AllanSteve! Interesting enough to drive me to look in Linguee.com to investigate. It seems that for most uses of "leadership" , "leiten" is used, and only where the meaning is "to physically provide a route to a person or animal" (as here) is "führen" preferred. So it comes down to context and in the clear context used here, "leiten" would never be used.
My first thought when translating this from "He led us to the train station" was that we are dealing with movement from one place to another, and therefore I should say "den Bahnhof". But "zu" takes the dative. That's very confusing. Is this (zu = dativ) just a quirk of German, which even German speakers acknowledge is kind of strange? Or am I missing something obvious?
German speakers don't think about. It's just how zu works and so it seems completely natural to them.
How many English speakers think about the fact that we say "in ten minutes" but not "ago ten minutes" but instead "ten minutes ago"? Why is "ago" a postposition? Isn't think something even English speakers acknowledge is kind of strange? -- I'd wager that your average English speaker never gives it a second thought; they've been saying "ten minutes ago" since they were three years old and probably can't even imagine it being any other way.
Similarly with zum Bahnhof -- that's just how it is.
Thanks for your response. Language really is fascinating! And you're right, I've never thought about "ten minutes ago". It is pretty weird, now that you mention it. :)
I think what makes it hard for these exercises is that, as a newbie, I still have to think about whether I'm going to use dative or accusative, and "zu" seems to break a rule. I'm sure any German-speaking six year old would have no trouble with it.