Translation:She only came home today at two in the morning.
The first sentence here sounds awkward, probably because althought it is technically correct that coming home at 2 am would make it the "today" in the sentence, we would not actually say that as it would be confusing. We would rather say "She didn't come home until 2am last night."
In the grammar section of this lesson it is explained that this sentence should be translated as "She didn’t come home until 2 a.m. this morning." (Literal: She only came home at two today morning.) Yet both of these are unnatural (you would not say "2 a.m. this morning" because it is redundant, you would not say "today morning" as many others point out); neither of them is the correct answer; and my answer "She did not go home until 2 am today" was not accepted. I wonder if there is a way of commenting on the grammar sections, as often they contain many errors in the English translations.
Thanks - just for an update the link is now https://resources.allsetlearning.com/chinese/grammar/Expressing_lateness_with_%22cai%22
It seems that ''today morning'' is said in India which is really not any kind of standard especially when you consider that most people in India if they do speak English, speak it as a second language. Here is my source: https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/147544/why-is-today-morning-wrong-but-tomorrow-morning-right
"She only came home at two today morning.": Poor English. Should be "She only came home at two this morning." or "She only came home at two in the morning today." or just "She only came home at two in the morning."
Of course, "only came home" should be substitutable with "didn't come home until" (sounds better that way, IMO); with "until" abbreviable as "til" or "till". I hav had problems with the spelling "til" not being accepted, even tho' it's an acceptable spelling. (I prefer the spelling "til", over "till", by analogy with the full form "until".)
Well, ''today morning'' is wrong,but it seems to be common in India, and Singapore who are second language learners. Read all about it: https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/20467/saying-today-morning-to-mean-this-morning
"today morning" is not broadly accepted as correct English; outside of India and Singapore, if someone heard this they would probably think "oh, this person isn't quite fluent in English". The answer should be amended to accept more standard English forms ("this morning") in addition to the current answer.
Why not "two in the early morning"? 早上 is early morning. I wrote 'morning' but then changed it thinking they might be wanting 'early morning'. And in English we often say "home early in the morning" if someone comes home late. Early is provided as a word in the choice of words for the answer as well.
The trouble with Duolingo is that often you are just dabbling in the dark, despite all of the good features. Learn the answers by wrote otherwise you will have problems.
Yes, these are also good ways of saying it, though less specific about the time. I have to smile e1VpVxkl, perhaps you weren't staying out "'til all hours" in high school? I don't actually remember where I heard it either, probably read it, but what I heard the few times I came home very late in high school was how worried my folks were and how I better not do it again!
PeacefulPearl, Thanks for the compliment, but that is partly due to Google. [I write "partly" because no translation from Google can simply be copied; to my surprise, Google even changes the translation if you switch in the same frame!]
Dutch is my native language. At high school level about 50 years ago I also learned English, German, French and a few years of Latin, later on also Spanish. And as a hobby 25 years ago: some Indonesian [Bahasa] and Norwegian. = = =
In the 1st lesson in Bahasa I made a very interesting discovery: musicality helps in assessing whether a sentence is in the right order!
My teacher wrote 5 sentences on the blackboard - alternately 1 x correct and 1 x in an incorrect order - and pronounced them one after the other. We had to choose which sentence was correct, and I had all 5 sentences correct. Her explanation was: then you are musical; musicality and sense of language go together. I doubt whether musicality also helps in learning Mandarin, but perhaps we can discover that experimentally.
Last but not least: every day, when I read the comments of other learners here, I can improve my knowledge of English; all learners are my teachers!
Actually, when speaking about the pre-dawn hours when it is very dark out we often call it "last night". Technically, scientifcally, it isn't LAST night, but ...that's language. It doesn't always make perfect sense. If my daughter came home at 2am I would say (and have said), "She didn't get home until 2 o'clock last night!"
This is probably a great sentence in Chinese, but the English is very lacking. It does not really mean what it purports to say, that the person arrived much later than expected. Rather, with careful intonation, it might mean "What's the problem, she's home, even if it was 2 am when she got there/here." Many posters have pointed out the problem of translating 才 as "only" in this and the other sentences. It is not the way we use "only" in English. We might say, "She didn't come home until 2 o'clock this morning" or "She didn't get home until two o'clock this morning" or even "She came home at two o'clock last night!" In fact, there are a number of ways to say the same meaning in English, but those provided in this lesson are not any of them.
Native English speaker here. I'm afraid this is indeed one of the ways at least some of us can use "only" in English. To me it's utterly normal in several different versions with "only" and "until". I guess some people never use the "only" versions and have never met any who would use them.
I have often heard "only" used as a time adverb, speaking of something occuring more recently than expected, but never quite like this. It usually puts the focus on something happening more recent than expected, rather than much later than expected. Although the actual time of something recent is later than something not recent, the focus is different. Anyway, my opinion, I guess. I have met and conversed quite a lot with people all over the world, native speakers of English, and have lived in several of the States, England, and Australia, but have never heard it used this way! Perhaps "only just" or even just "just (if it is not much later at the time of discussion)", but not only "only". Language is funny that way though; people can and do say things in such a variety of ways in their native language. I probably have just never noticed it.
Your English is so good that I thought you were a native speaker. But this could be one of the things that's so idiomatic that even exceptional non-native speakers don't pick up on. I'm a native speaker of Australian English and have also travelled extensively. It definitely sounds natural in Australian English but I'm not sure about UK or American English. In fact I don't know if I would say it this way myself. I just asked my sister and she also said she wouldn't say it but it means the same thing. The meanings of "only" that you mention are the usual ones that are not as subtle/idiomatic as the one in the English here.
Actually, I am a native speaker also. I am glad my English is good! Anyway, there are always a number of ways that one can say something in their language, and that number increases with each new dialect. I just find that the translation here leaves me saying something that I do not mean, but if it means to you that she did not arrive home until 2 am, I will rest with that knowledge. I will chalk this sentence up to Aussie English, and leave it at that. It proves that there is a lot more to learning a new dialect of English than grasping the occasional lexical differences. Cheers!
Yes, it is implied that she did not go home until a certain time; before that time she was still not at home and therefore had not gone home yet, but at 2 a.m. that changed; she went home. In English, this phrasing is very common. "Somebody didn't do something until TIME/somebody or some other had done something else."
I agree with most of you, this translation is a bit strange.
I'm not fluent yet (which is why I'm using Duolingo, so please correct me if I'm mistaken), but I have taken some Chinese classes at a university, and I leaned how to use 才 there. My teacher told us that 才 bears a strong resemblance to "not ... until" in English. Even though a direct translation between "才" and "not until" makes English sentences a bit clunky, it usually conveys the meaning of the sentence more effectively than translating "才" into "only".
Here are three instances where 才 is used in a sentence (I wrote the first two):
你昨天三点才吃午饭了。-> You did NOT eat lunch UNTIL 3 o'clock in the afternoon yesterday.
他每天十一点才回家。-> Every day, he does NOT come home UNTIL 11 o'clock.
他才学会上网。-> He did NOT learn how to use the Internet UNTIL [just now]
Here's an entry for 才 on Collins Dictionary if that helps: https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/chinese-english/%E6%89%8D
It should be, She didn't come home until two o'clock this morning. "才" is given as "only" but it wasn't until then that she FINALLY came home. It was 2am this morning when she FINALLY came home; we would not say "only" in English for that situation; it would not make sense. If we say "only" then we mean: not at three, not at one, but ONLY exactly at 2am. (And I agree with everyone else about "today morning" -that is dumb. Nobody says that. At least it should say, "this morning.")
Agree to disagree. It's "correct" but ambiguous and would usually be understood differently. "Only" means she came back early, not late. "She only came back at 2am; it could have been worse; don't have a cow." My point is, "only" is not the best word to use and will lead to misunderstandings; also, teaching English-speaking students that this word means "only" in this context is misleading, inaccurate, flat-out wrong, and not fair to the students. The best translation would be, "She didn't come home until..." or "It was 2am when she finally came home." or, best way to use "only" - "Only when it was 2am did she finally come home."
Equally, "only" could mean she came back late, e.g. "She's going out again?! She only came back at 2 a.m."
As a native English speaker, I read only in that sentence as meaning her return was unexpectedly late. In fact, I struggle to see how you can derive an implied early return from only in this context.
Try this google search to give you plenty of examples where the intended meaning is that the return was notably or unexpectedly late: https://www.google.com/search?q="only+came+back+at"
Yes, you are correct that there is such a usage and meaning of "only" in English. In that case, though, the meaning of the English word "only" is very different from this Chinese word, so it is not a valid translation of the Chinese word. In that case, the English word "only" refers to the very short time that she has been home. "She only recently got here, and now she is going back out again already." But the Chinese word does not refer to the short time since she arrived. Rather, it refers to the exclusivity of her arrival time; it refers to the fact that for the entire time prior to 2am, she did not come back. Her arrival did not take place until it was finally after 2am, and only then did she finally come back. In other words, not until after 2am. Or, at no other time prior to 2am did she come back, but exclusively after 2am. Oh... I tried the google search, but it only generated 22 results. I tried the same search for "did not come back until" and got over 203,000 results. The "only came back at" were mostly from UK, NZ, and various countries in Africa. So I guess it's an overseas thing, mainly. And also not common. Anyway just the fact that native speakers can disagree about the usage of "only" here serves to underline the fact that this is ambiguous and not universally agreed upon and hence definitely not the best translation of this Chinese word. I vote it be made less ambiguous.
Right, I had meant to add to my previous reply that I understand your distinction here, and agree with it.
I'm not well enough advanced in Mandarin to know if the usage of 才 is incorrect here, but I agree that less ambiguity in Duolingo is something we should all work towards!