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  5. "树上有六只鸟。"


Translation:There are six birds in the tree.

November 18, 2017



Great example of the difference in space representation for English and Chinese. I've talked to Chinese speakers who find it quite curious that English represents this scenario as if the birds were inside (i.e. embedded in) the tree; for English speakers looking at the Chinese, I guess our first guess may be that the birds are at the top/apex of the tree.


Well, this makes it even more difficult for non-native English speakers.
In German, for example, the birds would also be auf dem Baum lit. ‘on the tree‘.
It's quite unintuitive having to translate the Chinese sentence that works much like it would in my native language differently to English.


In Greek as well. The birds are always "on the tree". If you say they are in the tree you imply they are trapped inside its trank or something.


Same in Russian


In Korean, the birds are always on top/above the tree even if they are sitting on the lowest branch! So i guess that's a similar concept in Chinese?


It might be a different conceptualization of "tree." I.e., when we think of "tree" in English, we're focusing on the whole as one enfolding shape--not just the trunk but also the foliage. To be within the extension of tree branches is to be "in the tree," same as to be "in the bushes." So the birds are "in the tree" because they are within the spatial parameters of tree-ness.


Even more interesting (to me), the birds are "in" the tree and if you threw a shoe or something and it got stuck, it would be "in" the tree too. But if the tree is an apple tree and apples are growing, I'd say there are apples "on" the tree. And of course the leaves are "on" the tree too.


What is the function of 只 in this sentence? Is it a counter for "birds?"


yes, and it can be used as a counting word for other animals such as 猫 and 狗 as well!


could 木 be used instead of 树? (still trying to understand how single characters are used when they can have the same meaning as others)


I was also wondering about the difference between 木 and 树. Are they interchangeable?


While both can be defined as "tree" in dictionaries, on its own 木 usually means wood(en). When it's used in a compound (with another character) 木 can mean tree though. This page has some helpful info:



木 means wood. and even if you want to say there are six birds on the log, you would say 木头上有六只鸟。


Don't get confused with Japanese.


Just add a little to the above replies, as a native Chinese(Cantonese) speaker, learning Japanese, I also want to say that it's not a good idea to learn both Chinese and Japanese at the same time, if you have similar levels of them. Only wait until you have at least intermediate level of one of them to start the other. Japanese kanji has their source from (traditional) Chinese, and some of them share the same meanings, but some others has different meanings, usage and characters(how you write them), so beginners can easily get confused(even for me I get confused sometimes). In this example, in Japanese, both 木 and 樹(in its form of traditional Chinese and Japanese kanji, the simplified one looks slightly different ) means trees and use the same hiragana 'ki'. Whereas in Chinese, though 樹 and 樹木 both means trees, 木 standing alone means wood/log.


上 means "top, on top of, etc."


Prepositions don't have exact equivalents in every language. 上 could be on, in, last, up, into, onto etc depending on the context.


Thanks for asking . Came here to make sure what it meant here (in)


Also in italian: the birds are on the tree (not inside)


Where are the birds now? On the tree ir in the tree? This very cinfusung when sometimes exact translation is required and sometimes not. Too ambiguous for my taste.


I got the answer correct but can someone please explain why the sentence doesn't start with 在


Given that 只 has these multiple meanings, does anybody know how you would change this sentence if you wanted to say "there are only six birds in (or on, whatever) the tree"? I




It's worth noting that this is only a point of confusion in simplified Chinese. Otherwise, "there are only six birds in the tree" would be 樹上只有六隻鳥.


In chinese, we'd directly translate to: "The tree has 6 birds"


It would be "The top of the tree has six birds"


If we go with the English preposition of 'in' being correct, then 'In the tree are six birds' should also suffice.


'In the tree there are six birds.'


shouldn't it be "on" the tree?


In Hungarian the tree is "fa" which also means wood (the material), so the Chinese sentence sounds for us, like the birds are in the tree-trunk, instead of the leafage.


Really! I wrote the number 6 instead of writing the number six. In English ur can be used either way.


how would you say 6 birds under the tree. i thought 里 meant in and 上 meant under. duolingo used shang to mean under for the sentence about a dog earlier.


里 means in and 上 means on or on top of


There are six birds on the tree


I believe that on the tree should be more suitable.


'In the tree there are six birds' should be accepted as well.


It should be 'on' not 'in' xx

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