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https://www.duolingo.com/nathanbash

Is this idiom translated correctly?

IMG

You can''t say 'wood' here, can you? 'Wood' to mean forest? That's 'woods' right? This would be like 'You cant see the lumber for the trees' no? Was going to report it but wasn't sure.

4 years ago

9 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Rutgers75

In English the expression is "can't see the forest for the trees". No one would ever use woods in that expression. In other contexts woods is fine. Brits in particular might say wood to mean forest but usually it would be woods, and I think wood is very likely to occur in Brit proper names (place names). Actually stylistically it comes down to if you use "the" or "a" or no article. I went into the woods; I went into a wood. Just a question of what sounds right or sounds familiar.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/nathanbash

hmm. interesting. good call on the "a wood/the woods" true that about "woods" not even being used in this expression. LOL. That didn't even occur to me.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/M132T003C
M132T003C
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I have certainly heard this idiom spoken by native English speakers from the UK as “You can’t see the wood for the trees.”. It’s a perfectly normal way to say the idiom in English, just maybe not in every dialect. “woods” would work too but my impression is that it’s less common for this idiom specifically. Certainly using “forest” is very common too.

In addition, the sentence discussions for these questions reveal that some people do interpret this idiom to mean “you can’t see the lumber for the trees”, which was not how I had been thinking of it, but seemed a reasonable interpretation anyway after I’d read their explanation(s).

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Rutgers75

For what it's worth, in the US "lumber" and "wood" are interchangeable. In Australia they always seem to say lumber. If you ask to buy a piece of wood in a store it seems to confuse them. But I think they would say that the fence post is made of wood (not lumber) and they say the chair is made of wood. I wouldn't but it past a pommy (Brit) to say "wood for the trees" but is sounds really weird to an American ear and conjures an image of a wood pile, which is not what the expression refers to since it's talking about not seeing the big picture for the details. In any event while in terms of grammar it parses, in terms of idiom the suggested "correct" answer in the red box might be Martian but it ain't English. It wouldn't even pass muster in Pennsylvania Dutch country where they are famous for expressions such as "throw mommy from the train a kiss".

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/nathanbash

IMG
Here's another example where I feel the idiom has been poorly translated into English. Never heard it said this way.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/nathanbash

IMG Woops. Here's what I meant by that.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Amy-schultz

I agree. It seems like it should be "you can't see the forest for the trees." Duo's answer in the red box seems very literal and does not make sense in English.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Amy-schultz

Yes, I believe it should be woods. (Not wood)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/nathanbash

Thanks Amy for the confirmation. I'll pass it along to Remy, the French contributor.

4 years ago