"Can I tell you a story?"


November 16, 2017

This discussion is locked.


Why does this sentence need the "给你听“ at the end? Would "我可以讲你一个故事吗“ work? Im not sure why that part is necessary.


The other answer is only semi-correct.

It's correct about the fact that you can't just throw in 你 as a bare indirect object after 讲; you can't say "讲 you a story" like you can say "tell you a story."

It's not correct about 给你 in this sentence working like "to you," as a prepositional phrase for a recipient. That leaves 听 unaccounted for. What's happening here is that "你听" is the purpose, or intended result, of 讲故事, and 给 is a conjunction. A very literal translation would be "Can I tell a story for you to hear?"


Thanks so much for explaining this


Thanks, it was very lucid explanation


Chinese marks indirect objects with prepositions/coverbs like 给. Without it 你 is just a direct object, so what you tell would be "a you a story" which I don't think is ungrammatical, it just means something different. You could say 我可以给你讲一个故事吗


I think 我可以给你讲一个故事吗? should be accepted. Can i tell you a story (to listen)? 我可以给你讲一个故事(听)吗? If English could omit the 听, why couldn't Chinese?


As long as the Chinese sentence is acceptable. I agree with the first part. But I think this is not a good argument:
"If English could omit the 听, why couldn't Chinese?"

There are many cases were you can't omit something because it is just not acceptable/grammatical to omit it in a given language. You can already spot the difference in your English translation, because this doesn't seem like a normal sentence to me: "Can i tell you a story to listen?"


I guess when they're saying "why can't Chinsese" they must talking about how Duolingo have set the Chinese version, rather than talking about the rules of Chinese grammar?


I think it's accepted now, i just entered it that way


Accepted, June 2018.


This English to Chinese translation is horribly difficult. It can only be done by memorising it from an earlier Chinese to English translation, if any, though even that is hard to do.


I agree with you sir


If you do Duo in a browser on a desktop computer the previous exercise discussions are automatically created in different tabs, so just keep those tabs and you have an archive of the previous correct answers that you can compare your answer to before committing fully to it.


I think the 可以 should be able to go at the end, i usually phrase my questions so that they end with 可以吗

[deactivated user]

    I get your point, but you should be putting it after the subject more often than not

    [deactivated user]

      This would translate back to: "I tell you a story, can?" That would be acceptable in Singlish (in Singapore), but I do not think it would be acceptable in most other dialects of English.


      It's irrelevant whether a literal translation of a Chinese sentence would be grammatical English. "You love not love mango" isn't grammatical English either, but "你爱不爱芒果" is good Chinese anyway.


      I also think that this translation should be accepted: 我可以给你讲一个故事吗?

      Reporting it!


      Where does '听' come from? The Chinese text does not say 'for you to listen to'. Good translation does not require you to make things up that are not there!


      Chinese comes with a way of saying things. If you don't learn it as well you will at best speak a weird Chinese and at worst say things that don't make sense. You can't just guess the right translation, you have to learn it. As you gain experience it will all make sense.


      The Chinese thinking seems to be more like "I am telling the story TO you who is listening". The fact that English leaves out the listening part (assuming it is implied) does not mean the Chinese have to.


      In the English sentence it says "Can I tell you a story?" That is to say that is specifies the indirect object of the story telling as "you". The fact that "you" are listening is implicit in the English sentence and is explicit in the Chinese sentence.

      This is just the natural way to say this in each language.


      Reported 我给你讲一个故事,可以吗? Hear this a lot here in Beijing.


      This sentence comes with the 给你听 attached and isn't accepted without it. The one about daddy reading stories to the kids comes without it and doesn't work with it. Go figure. Can anyone explain the difference, or is it just one of those 多邻国 idiosyncrasies not to be taken seriously?




      I wonder why is it marked incorrect


      Can this be said in any easier or shorter way in chinese. This is very confusing and difficult to remember.


      If you want to be more loose with your translation, then yes.

      要不要聽故事 = Want to hear a story?


      Why isn't 我可以讲一个故事 enough?


      吗 is necessary


      Why is the 一个 so important here? As Chinese doesn't usually distinguish singular and plural in the noun itself, my understanding is that the number is simply left ambiguous, so 讲故事 could mean "tell a story" (?)


      我可以讲故事给你听吗 was just accepted for me, so it looks like 一个 isn't necessary. I mean, maybe the sentence is trying to clarify that I'm not just asking for permission to tell you stories in general, but who knows?


      "Wo keyi jiang ni yi ge gu shi ma" isn't right?


      What about: 我可以给你讲一个故事吗?


      我 可以 讲 你 一个 故 事吗? why isn't this accepted ?


      Because 講 (讲) is a verb which only takes a single object.


      ??? I'm unclear what you mean.


      In English some verbs, like "cough", don't normally take an object. The sentence structure is Subject-Verb (S-V): "My mother coughs."

      Some verbs, like "drive", normally take just a single object. The sentence structure is Subject-Verb-Object (S-V-O): "My sister drives a truck" or "My sister speaks French."

      Some verbs, like "give", normally take two objects: a direct object and an indirect object. A typical sentence structure is S-V-IO-DO: "My aunt (S) gave (V) my uncle (IO) a cup of tea (DO)" or "My aunt told my uncle a story."

      Although there are many verbs which can fit into multiple structures, some are only used certain ways. You can't say "My sister drives my brother a car". You also can't say "My aunt recounts my uncle a story." Likewise, 講 only takes a single object: 講、講中文、講故事、等.

      But just like you can take incorrect "My aunt recounts my uncle a story" and make it correct by adding a preposition "My aunt recounts a story for my uncle to hear", likewise you can take incorrect "我講你一個故事" and add in 給: "我給你講一個故事" or "我講一個故事給你聽".

      Here is one of the few references I found which actually lists some of the verbs which can take two objects: https://resources.cie.hkbu.edu.hk/chiview/2011/10/07/動詞的使用/ and this one has some more on p.49 http://nccur.lib.nccu.edu.tw/bitstream/140.119/35593/7/51508107.pdf


      Thank you very much. Is it necessary to include (IO) 给你听 or are you just making it more correct? Also, recount and tell do not mean the same thing.


      Yes, 'recount' and 'tell' are different: 'tell' takes two objects and 'recount' takes one and they also imply a similar but slightly different action. Just trying to give an English example to illustrate the difference between these types of verb.

      In the Chinese sentence 給 is functioning as a preposition 'to', which is how we add an indirect object to a verb which only takes a direct object. In order to make this a complete translation of the English sentence, we need to include 給你 in there somewhere. But if it's totally obvious from the context who you would be telling the story to, then just leave it out: "我可以講一個故事嗎?"

      If you say "我可以給你講一個故事嗎" then you don't include 聽 but if you swap it around (like in this lesson) and have the indirect object after the verb: "我可以講一個故事給你聽嗎" then you include it.

      All of this is probably why this sentence is included in the course, because it's an important thing for learners to be able to adapt to some verbs having different numbers of objects between English and Chinese.


      The real problem is DL's " translators " which have a Limited knowledge of English and Chinese ( after all, this site is all about money ). Thus, don't get too frustrated and strive to at least construct logically sensible sentences and improve as you continue to learn ☺.




      I recommend this article comparing the modal verbs 會,可以 and 能.


      我可以把一个故事告诉你吗? was not accepted.




      "I can tell a do story give you listen" (literal)


      "I can tell a do story give you listen?" (literal)


      The word 'do' is not present. It looks like you mistook the first character of 故事 (story) for 做 (do), which has the person radical added on the left of the other character.


      我可以給你聽一個故事嗎? Is this not acceptable?


      actually, 'tell' would come more natural translated as '告訴'. 告訴 is used when you directly converse with someone while 讲 is very general. "我可以告訴你一個故事嗎?" should also be an accepted solution.


      I don't think you really 告诉 a 故事, you can 告诉 a 事情, but 讲故事 is definitely better than 告诉故事。

      Learn Chinese in just 5 minutes a day. For free.