This is certainly a very unnatural translation to English! I had to copy-paste the answer to advance!
The Czech sentence means that he wrote 12 books and was likely planning on writing the 13th but died. Or was prevented in some other way to do it. Though the hint strongly suggest he is dead.
What form of English sentence would make sense here if not the one above?
As was suggested earlier, there is no sensible word-for-word translation. The meaning is: "He never wrote a thirteenth book". The simple "He didn't write a thirteenth book" carries much the same sense--in czech, the "už" doesn't really change the meaning much, the very statement carries the implication that there was a thought of a thirteenth book. I suppose "He was unable to write a thirteenth book" would also work, but it is just not a good sentence for this kind of exercise.
For me, the problem is the combination of "už" and "nenapsal," because "no longer" and "not any longer" have a present-tense feel, while "did not write" is definitely past.
Here are a couple of thoughts, which may or may not quite make the point that the Czech original wants to make...
-- He is no longer writing a thirteenth book. (He was planning to write one, but now he won't for some reason. Or he started to write one, but now he doesn't want to, or can't, finish it. But he's not dead.)
-- He did not write a thirteenth book. (He may or may not have been planning to write one, but he didn't.)
Hope this helps, and thanks for asking for Learner Input!
Yeah, "no longer" or "anymore" don't really work with the past simple tense.
You could use the past continuous, ("He was no longer writing the thirteenth book" or "He wasn't writing the thirteenth book anymore").
Present continuous, as BoneheadBass suggested is even better for what you're trying to say, but if it must be past tense (since this is a past tense lesson), you should use the continuous form.
Good point about this being a past-tense exercise. I like your suggestion!
'He no longer wrote a 13th book' sounds passable, given some context ('although intending to complete his series of novels, after the loss of his hands, he no longer wrote a 13th book'). It just looks very odd in isolation.
How about "after all" as a translation for už? "He did not write his thirteenth book after all."
This sentence has no logical meaning in English. Is the Czech sentence correct?
Count me in for "This sentence just doesn't make sense in English"... because it REALLY just does not. Perhaps it would be best to scrap this one and use a different Czech sentence that WOULD make sense in the English translation.
This is not one of those places. It would be "(svou) třináctou knihu už nepíše".
Would "He was not writing his thirteenth book anymore" be a reasonable translation? Because as many others have said, the given solution is just terrible English
Thank you. My first reasoning was like Blflame's but I was wrong about “už.” I had interpreted “už ne…” as not yet but the correct reasoning behind it obviously is something like “it is already too late for him to write…” It was important to point that out.
I wrote pretty much that and it was rejected. I reported the "correct solution" as unnatural.
I wrote the same but it seems it's not the expected meaning here... I'm still very confused with "už". Sometimes it is a rough equivalent of the English "yet", sometimes it's translated as "already". I think a whole chapter of this course should be dedicated to this confusing adverb.
If the context here is that the guy died and is therefore no longer writing his thirteenth book that he apparently had previously started, then this is a bad sentence for a format such as DuoLingo and it should be removed. If a sentence requires context in order to translate it accurately, then the context should be given on the screen where the sentence is listed.
Maybe this should be translated as 'He hadn't written his thirteenth book'?
Correct me if I'm wrong please, but I'm interpreting it this way:
psal = wrote napsal = finished writing nenapsal = did not finish writing už nenapsal = until this moment, it has been true that the writing was not finished
(he never did finish it) - even up until now
The difference between psát and napsat is in the aspect. Psal is imperfective, and would likely be translated to English as was writing. Napsal is perfective, and would be translated as wrote. Finish doing something is expressed in Czech with the prefix do-, so did not finish writing would have an equivalent in nedopsal.
This was fascinating, although not very instructive. I am deaf to the nuances of Czech, but I assume that the Czech sentence makes sennse. If there is a sensible sentence in one language, one assumes that it should be translatable into another. Since UŽ in previous cases was translated as YET, I vote for: He hasn't written his 13th book yet, as others have suggested. Someone who knows Czech could tell us whether this translation carries the same meaning as the English sentence.
Teď, když rozumím lépe češtinu, ta věta zdává vice smyslu. Chápu že v čestině máte jiné výrazy jako co máme v angličtině, ale, nemůžete to také říct "Třináctou knihu nikdy nenapsal" nebo "Třináctou knihu už nikdy nenapsal"? Nemají tyto věty stejný význam, nebo je to cizí způsob říkat? Zdá se mi že obojí jsou jasnější, ale to může být protože jsem cizinec :-)
Ano, toto jsou také možné formulace. Přemýšlím o tom, jak tuto větu udělat jasnější.
It seems that the problem we foreigners have with the original sentence is: what does UŽ mean here. If not YET, then is it just a way to emphasize the fact that the book hadn't been written?
A second consideration, apart from the yet/already angle for už that you and others point out, is that when už is combined with a negative verb, it attaches the meaning of "no longer" or "not any more" to the verb.
So while the sentence may be perfectly understandable in Czech, a reasonable translation to something like, "He did not write his thirteenth book anymore" or "He no longer wrote his thirteenth book" gives us sentences that just sound wrong in English. On the plus side, I guess, clearly there's a lot of interest in mastering this one! :-)
I've come to the conclusion, in my off and on Czech learning experience, that the tendency to overthink things is the biggest destructive force when trying to get fluent in this language. It should have been obvious to me right from the start. Sometimes an expression just doesn't translate the same way in another language. If you look further up in the comments, you'll see I was very critical of this sentence a year ago. Context would have helped a foreigner, but the native Czech speaker is going to understand immediately, apparently without context. Once I stopped overthinking the translations and started focusing more on the grammar, learning got a lot easier.