"She is sick, so she eats little."
66 CommentsThis discussion is locked.
English and Chinese have different grammatical rules, some things which can be omitted in one language are not usually omitted in the other, so it's not as simple as saying that the word "because" needs to be in the English sentence.
In English it is quite common to omit either "because" or "so" in the "because ... so ... " structure, in Chinese it is pretty standard to use the full structure: "因為 ... 所以 ... ", so to have a natural sounding translation it is normal to add in or remove structural words.
For more on this, please see https://resources.allsetlearning.com/chinese/grammar/Cause_and_effect_with_%22yinwei%22_and_%22suoyi%22 and note in particular
The full pattern 因为……所以…… (yīnwèi... suǒyǐ...) is used to clearly indicate cause and effect. They could be thought of as equating to: "Since happened, so happened." It sounds weird to use both "since" and "so" in one sentence in English, but it makes everything crystal clear in Chinese.
Yeah, actually it is accepted.. Unfortunately who gave you a minus made some other error in the sentence and got the answer wrong.
Update: And now I "won" my downvotes just by saying the things as are.. It happens often in communities where voice is given to everyone no matters how deeply he thinks.
Not a native speaker but more than ten years of speaking experience here.
因为 (and many other conjunctions) can be put after the subject if both of these conditions are met:
- The subordinate clause with the conjunction we’re talking about comes before the main clause (which is the preferred order in Chinese anyway, though it’s not obligatory, particular in more colloquial speech), and
- the subject remains the same across both clauses.
Our sentence does meet both those conditions, so you can say either 她因为生病了，所以吃得很少。 Or 因为她生病了，所以(她)吃得很少。 My feeling is the first one is somewhat more common where it’s possible to use it. The version with the conjunction first can have the subject repeated in the main clause (and I feel often will). The version with the subject first cannot have the subject repeated because the first subject is spanning over to it.
The English translation is wrong. You can't use the Present Simple tense, which indicates a habitual action or state of affairs, to describe a temporary condition like eating very little because you're sick. It has to be "She's sick, so she's eating very little." The sentence as written would only work if the sickness was something chronic that lasted for a number of years, but I don't think that's what the Chinese 生病了 really indicates.
Present tense on “to be” can mean a current state, not just a habitual one: “I’m hungry ]now], let’s eat something. I’m sick [today], so I can’t go to work.” The progressive alternative “I’m being hungry, I’m being sick” is sometimes possible, but to me it sounds like you either really want to stress that the state is ongoing, or you‘re actually talking about a behaviour characteristic for that state, rather than the state itself (“Oh come on, you’re being obnoxious [= behaving in an obnoxious way].”)
生病了 literally means “has grown a sickness” (or in more natural English “has come down with a sickness”). That’s why there is 了 here even though the English translation talks about an ongoing state: It’s because Chinese 生病 refers to the process of getting/catching a sickness, and the state “being sick” is its result.
The Present Simple verb "to be" can indicate a temporary current state, but normal verbs (such as "to eat") in the Present Simple don't. "She eats little" describes a normal, habitual state of affairs, not a temporary situation that's only occuring right now (for that we would need the Present Progressive). The only way that the English sentence that's given here can be understood as grammatically correct is if we understand the sickness as a permanent (or at least long-term) state.
That depends on what you classify as “long-term”. 生病了 just means “has gotten sick”. It could be a very short-term thing which is over tomorrow, or it could be something which lasts weeks or months. It’s probably not just a momentary thing (in some variants of English “to be sick” can just mean “to vomit”, but 生病 is talking about developing an actual illness, not just being disgusted or having drunk too much alcohol). It could in theory be a lasting, chronic disease but most people don’t “get” new chronic diseases very frequently so it wouldn’t be my first thought (although you could use 生病 to talk about a new exacerbation of a normally dormant chronic disease).
In any case, I would usually expect 生病了 to last at least a day or two – enough to span multiple meals. So I find it absolutely natural to say that she eats little (at all meals during her current sickness). Of course “she’s eating very little (during this meal we are having right now)” would of course also be correct. The Chinese sentence could mean either of those things. Only “she’s being sick” would not sound appropriate to me.
Sorry if I wasn't being clear – what I'm suggesting as a correct English translation of the Chinese sentence is "She is sick, so she's eating little.", not any other variant. (Of course, "she's eating little" is not idiomatic – "she's eating very little" or "she's not eating much" are much better English, but "she's eating little" is at least not actually incorrect.)
"She is sick" is correct. That part of the sentence does need to be in the Present Simple because the Present Simple of the verb "to be" can be used to describe a temporary situation. However, putting the second part of the sentence, "she eats little" in the Present Simple is incorrect (unless we understand her being sick as being her normal, long-term, or permanent situation) because the Present Simple of the verb "to eat" cannot describe a temporary situation.
It seems like you're under the impression that the Present Progressive can only indicate an action happening at the same moment a statment is being made (i.e. she is eating little during this meal we are having right now). Whilst this is one of its uses, it also very often indicates a state of affairs which is temporary and ongoing, but not necessarily happening right at the moment of speaking (i.e. I'm taking a Chinese class this semester). If she is temporarily as opposed to chronically sick, which is how the Chinese sentence would normally be understood, the second part of the sentence must be "she's eating little", as this means that she's eating little during the period of her illness. The sentence as written means that the fact she's fallen ill is the cause of her being the kind of person who habitually never eats very much (before, during, and after her illness).
I appreciate that the English tense system is ridiculously over-precise and complex (I know because as an English teacher I have to try to help people to learn it on a regular basis), but if DuoLingo is going to use English as a basis for teaching Chinese, they really need to have their English sentences checked by native speakers who have a good understanding of English grammar. Having one's English translation of a given Chinese sentence marked as incorrect, and then being given a grammatically incorrect English sentence as the "correct" answer is really not good enough.
In English it sounds extremely odd to use because and therefore/that’s why together. In Chinese on the other hand it’s completely natural, especially if the subordinate clause gets longer. So yes, you often should use both in Chinese, even though the English translation only uses one.
That said, while doubling the conjunctions is natural and often recommended in Chinese, it generally isn’t obligatory, so the version without 因为 should be accepted.
I’m afraid not. If you use 多 or 少 as an adverb directly before an action verb, they are interpreted as talking about an increase/decrease in that action, and they also require an amount to be stated after the verb. So just *你少吃 would be incorrect for “Eat less”, you have to say 你少吃一点 “Eat a bit less.”
But in our sentence above we’re not talking about “eating less”, we’re the extent of eating is “little” and for that you need 得: 她吃得很少。
Because Chinese is not English. In Chinese you can use both 因为……所以 (because... so...) in the same sentence. It sounds more formal than just using 因为 at the beginning or just 所以 in the second part, but it is a perfectly valid sentence structure. Do not rely on word to word translation.
Because 生病 literally means “to get sick” not “to be sick”. So 生病了 (literally “has gotten sick”) = “is sick”.
But also: Don’t think of 了 as a past tense marker, because it isn’t one. Chinese doesn’t have a past tense marker. 了, depending on its position, has the following main functions:
If it’s directly behind the verb, it marks what linguists call the “perfective aspect” – that means that the action is treated as a single point in time (as opposed to a repeated or an ongoing action). It so happens that we often speak of past actions like this, so you see 了 on past actions a lot, but you can absolutely use it for actions in the future too, for example: 等他走了以后，我们就断续聊天吧。 “(Wait until) After he leaves, then we’ll continue to chat.” His leaving is treated as a point in time, so it’s marked with 了.
If 了 is at the end of the clause (after objects if there are any), it expresses that the verb (or adjective) talks about a change in the situation. For example:
- 当爸爸 “to be a dad” → 他当爸爸了 “[He didn’t use to be a dad but now] He has become a dad.”
- 吃饭 “to eat” → 我吃饭了 “[Before I was hungry but now] I have eaten.”
By default this is usually interpreted as a change with respect to the present (i.e. something which happened in the recent past) and can often be translated with present perfect in English. But again, it’s absolutely possible to have it in the future:
- 他会当爸爸了。 “He’s going to become a dad.”
- 我要吃饭了。 “I’ll [go and] eat something.”
So it doesn’t tell you when something happened, only about how the action is perceived.
There is no 为什么 in the sentence. Maybe you meant 因为? That one is not mandatory (so 她生病了，所以吃得很少 should also be accepted – please use the flag button to report the missing answer if it isn’t). However it is recommended that you use 因为, if only to get used to 因为……所以 with doubled conjunctions. This is something you do very often in Chinese, particularly if the subordinate clause gets longer, but you can’t imitate it in English because in English you can’t double the conjunctions like (at least not without sounding very strange). So “because …, …” is okay and so is ”…, so …” is okay, but “because …, so …” is iffy at best.