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Site-wide problems with English marking, 'lots of', 'a lot of'

  1. The phrase 'lots of' is not accepted on any course on Duolingo, as far as I know. Are there cross-course standards for English which explain this uniformity, or did different groups of course contributors come to the same view independently?

In case there's any confusion about what I'm talking about, I mean 'lots of' used synonymously with 'many' and 'much':

"I have lots of friends", "I have have lots of food"

I have never considered 'lots of' a very informal phrase, or at least not much more informal than 'a lot of'. Does anyone else think this policy (if there is one) ought to change?

  1. 'Any more' is marked as a mistake right across Duolingo and corrected to 'anymore'. This is another case where I suspect there is some central guidance or algorithm at work. Both should be accepted, see here

  2. The marking algorithm doesn't understand possessive apostrophes at the end of words. "The girls' names" is marked wrong.

  3. There is a lack of consistency between courses about the use of the word 'can' with verbs of perception. I wrote a post about it on the Turkish course here, which is also relevant to other courses. The only course I have used which always gets this right is Polish.

October 13, 2017



'Any more' is marked as a mistake right across Duolingo and corrected to 'anymore'.

Looks like you are generalizing from incomplete information. How many courses have you tested out enough to speak with authority? I know of two that you haven't.

As far as cross-course standards in existence: not really, at least not yet. It mostly hinges on the individual volunteer teams and on user reports. The latter get trickier if something is marked as a typo. Short of starting a sentence or main discussion, not much can be done.

Typo detection/recognition is outside of the volunteer zone. Which makes it extremely resistant to change. Other items users spend lots of (see what I did there) time complaining about that are equally inert for the same reason include handling of apostrophies ("my parents car" is seemingly preferred to "my parents' car"), handling of contractions ("Have not we pointed this out?" is an example of a "correct" sentence), and the numeral-word substitutions ("I am selling a cat for 4 hundred 23 euros." is shown as a correction if the course creators only accept the word expression).

So, to the extent that standardization can be expected by the Duo powers that be to improve user retention and similar sacred stats, it will probably happen. On the other hand, anything that may upset a significant fraction of users, such as strict handling of apostrophies or numbers, is unlikely to be implemented even if it can be a priori expected to improve learning for the students determined to get it right rather than just collect an XP and move on to the next exercise.

At the heart of the Duo model lies a conflict between the organization's goals (one of which is to have as many user sign-ups as possible) and the volunteers' passions (which tend to be incompatible with catering to the lowest common denominator).


Very good points made.

I have to say using a mixture of numerals and words as you did "4 hundred 23 euros." should <<always>> be wrong! 423 euros, €423 or four hundred and twenty-three euros all ought to be acceptable.

I find the Welsh course accepts numerals - I only use them when translating into English, after all I don't need to prove I can spell them in my native tongue. When translating into Welsh, I always type out the words. It would be useful to me to have an exercise with the numerals for me to type in the language being learnt and vice versa so that my visual memory makes direct links between the numeral and the foreign term, currently I find I have to work through Welsh-English-numeral or numeral-English-Welsh but can't get from numeral to Welsh directly.

I know that sounds daft but if I see or hear wyth, I think eight, then 8. If I see 8, I think eight, then wyth, even in the middle of Welsh text. More practice for me, I think!


I think that's pretty normal, with numbers. When you see a number written out, it's easy to think of it in the language, but when you see a numeral... your mind jumps to the familiar name for it. I think that a number specific exercise as you describe could be very useful.

Some of the courses accept numerals going both ways (which seems bizarre to me), some of them only when translating to the home language, but requiring the numbers to be written out when translating to the target language, which IMO is good practice. I don't need practice writing out sixty three, but I do need it writing שישים ושלוש!


Glad to hear it's not just me!


Looks like you are generalizing from incomplete information. How many courses have you tested out enough to speak with authority? I know of two that you haven't.

This. I've completed 8 trees (more if you count those I've done from multiple languages), and the times I've tried to use "lots of", been marked incorrect and reported it, if there is a team still actively adding translations, it's been added.


English should be studied by the folks born with it. Many words are used incorrectly across the socioeconomic levels. "Lots of" for a area with. "Lotsa" for many. Meaning can be very sloppy depending on where that English is spoken. DL's growing data base is getting better. I think DL does pretty good considering all the crazy in English. But, your point is Lingot worthy. :)


Actually, you are wrong about any more/anymore.

"Any more" is used with quantities of things and time whilst "anymore" is only used in relation to time. The link you quoted above demonstrates this clearly. If DL is saying that "I don't have anymore cakes" is correct, then it is wrong, that should read "I don't have any more cakes". "I don't have cakes anymore" is a very different thing and is correct!

"I don't have anymore cakes" I would read as a non-native saying they no longer make/buy/eat cakes at all, not that they have a temporary absence of cakes, which is implied by "I don't have any more cakes"



Any more and anymore do not, strictly speaking, mean the same thing.

You're right that it struggles with possessive apostrophes.

You're generalising too widely about "lots of" - I'm pretty sure I've seen it occasionally in main translations, and I know I've had it accepted when I've reported it as an alternate. I dare say there are still sentences where it would be correct where it's not accepted, because it has to 1) get reported and 2) get seen and added to the roster of acceptable translations. It is definitely not a Duolingo-wife phenomenon.

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