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  5. "Two birds are flying in the …

"Two birds are flying in the sky."


December 19, 2017



If the birds are flying in the sky, shouldn't it be で instead of を?


Not in this case. そらをとぶ is a fixed expression meaning 'to fly the sky' or simply 'to fly'.
In English this direct translation might not sound natural. We, however, have the expressions 'sail the sea', 'swim the channel', 'fly the friendly skies', etc. While we can also say 'swim in the channel' and 'fly high in the sky' the intention of the phrase is different.

It might be better to imagine this as 'fly across the sky' instead. On the other hand, attaching a defined counterpart word in English is not necessarily the best way to learn Japanese.


But why ”二羽の鳥が空に飛んでいます” is not accepted? I think it should be accepted in the same way as"空に何が飛んでいますか?".


Also curious about this discrepancy


To me, the first sounds like "flying to the sky." Not sure exactly what the second one means, but maybe having 空に precede the question is significant.


Is this "to fly the sky" expression why we haveを being used with the normally intransitive verb 飛ぶ?


Intransitive verbs of motion are "transit"ive with regard to what their paths go along or through. 道を行く, 歩道を走る, 川を泳ぐ are probably valid examples.


So shouldn't it accept "fly the sky" when asked to translate to English? It doesn't even do that.


Because I learned in another lecture o means across or through, de would mean in.

Anyhow I guess you are right


Is my sentence really wrong : 空を鳥が二羽飛んでいます ?


If I had to guess I'd say that since「空を飛ぶ」 is a fixed expression, 空を must be as close as possible to 飛ぶ ... But I am not a native speaker.


There's no rule that fixed expressions must remain unbroken. A word or clause can be inserted without affecting the meaning of that expression. As を works to link the preceding noun to the following verb there is no problem with comprehension.「空を長時間飛ぶ」「空を鳥が飛ぶ」are but a couple examples that exist in reference materials.


Looks fine to me, albeit being different in construction from what most textbooks will teach.


I found an explication in "A Semiotactic Approach to Modern Japanese, page 70 , thesis" saying that this translation should be wrong. In short, they explained that "空を飛ぶ" (そらをとぶ=sora (w)o tobu) means "to fly through the sky" and that "to fly in the sky" has to be translated by "空で飛ぶ" (そらでとぶ=sora de tobu) which is not accepted by the site. "空に飛ぶ" is also a possible form but not for this case because it means "to fly to the sky" and thus not being in the sky. This is also taken from a book from "Kumo, Susumu" written in 1973 "The structure of the Japanese language. Cambridge, Mass, ... The MIT Press, pages 96-102" as said in the thesis. But i do not have this book and i cannot verify.


It's Kuno (久野) Susumu, not Kumo, if anyone wants to find it. English speakers aren't likely to say about birds that they "fly through the sky." Japanese speakers aren't likely to say about birds that they 空で飛ぶ. I'd say Duolingo has this one right.


Yes, you are right, his name is Kuno, sorry for the typo... But "aren't likely" does not mean that it is wrong and instead of refusing it, it could be better to accept and explain what you said about japanese usage because it is grammaticaly correct and means the same. On the opposite way (tranlating japanese to english), as the aim of this test is to learn japanese and not english, i thing that (all, as much as possible) gramatically correct english sentence that have the same meaning whithout considering if english speakers are or not likely to use it should be accepted, because here what seems essential is to verify if you understand japanese and not if you are using the sentence commonly used in UK/US or not. In the "learning english" test it may be different, but not in the "learning japanese" test. But I understand that it cannot be exhaustive.


I dont understand the にわのとり part. I get what とり is but 二わの.


Japanese often uses 'counters' to indicate the number of something. Flat objects use まい, long and thing objects use 本, and in this case birds (along with rabbits) use わ.

1 bird 一羽(いちわ)のとり

2 birds 二羽(にわ)のとり

There are many counters and resources can be found to memorize them. Suggest you start here for some background.


But why does this counter come before the word while the others came after?


It's arbitrary. It can come before, in the form 二羽の鳥 or after, in the form 鳥二羽. Due to the fact that にわ can also mean garden, it might sound like you are saying 'bird garden' if you place the counter after 鳥. Thus, the example sentence sounds more natural.


It gets worse with "Niwatori" that means Chicken. An example sentence would be: に羽の鶏の庭にはに羽の鶏がいます. Niwa no niwatori no niwa ni wa ni wa no niwatori ga imasu. There are two chickens in the garden of the two chickens.




Both are acceptable.


二わ の 鳥 , is the の necessary here? I thought it was allowed to leave it out, but Duo doesn't accept this answer. Now I'm confused...


It is necessary. In particular, countable nouns are normally separated from other nouns by the particle の when the counter precedes what is being counted. You can think of it as similar to the function of 'of' in English.

When the counter follows what is being counted, the の can often be dropped. 二羽の鳥 = 鳥二羽. That being said, 鳥の二羽 would also be fine grammatically, but as there is little possibility for confusion, the の would normally be dropped.

Finally, にわとり (鶏) means chicken. 二羽鳥 would seem to read as 'two-feathered/two-winged bird'. The separation created by の helps to clarify the fact that these two nouns are separate.


My answer was: 「鳥は空を二羽飛んでいます」 (tried with and without kanji), and I'm still not clear what was wrong with it.


空を飛ぶ is a set expression, meaning to fly (the sky).

を normally occurs directly before the verb, to mark the direct object (Throw→the ball / Fly→the sky). If there is another word between を and the verb, it would usually be marked with another particle, such as で to mark the words function (Throw→the ball→with one's right hand / Fly→the sky→on two wings).

二羽 can mean either two (birds, rabbits, etc.) or it can mean 'two wings', depending on context and grammar. Your 二羽 combines with the verb 飛ぶ to make the composite noun-phrase 'two-wing flying' (二羽飛び). As it is now a noun-phrase, the conjugated form would incorporated into a sentence as 二羽飛びをする, where (again) を marks the object (To do two-winged flying). On the other hand, you could insert で, and have 二羽で空を飛ぶ or 空を二羽で飛ぶ, which would mean 'fly the sky on two wings' , which would not be the correct translation.

To use a similar structure:

①二人の男が/ボールを/投げます。Two males / throw / a ball.

②男は/ボールを/二人で/投げます。The male(s) / throw / a ball / as two (together)

③男は/二人で/ボールを/なげます。The male(s) / as two (together) / throw / a ball.

④男は/ボールを/二人投げ/します。The male(s) / a ball / together-throw / do.

As you can see in sentence ④, the action has been changed from 'throwing a ball' to 'playing catch', where 'playing catch' is considered a noun-phrase. In this example the distinction is subtle, but the meaning is different and is more noticeable when discussing flying birds. Simply by adding a particle (compare sentence ④ to sentence ②) and of course correcting the conjugation, the meaning can change quite a bit.

*I don't know whether this is more helpful or confusing. Hopefully the former:)


Why has the counter changed? Up to this point I've only seen the ひき counter used for birds (in Duo, anyway)


Well, 匹 is wrong. As there is a specific counter for birds and rabbits (羽), using it is the best idea.


Also why can't we write « とりの二わがそらをとんでいます»?


I can't find any answers that accept "...鳥が二羽飛んでいます", but surely that's a standard way of expressing two birds flying?


Your (truncated) sentence looks fine to me. It might just be that they haven't added that grammatical structure or all of the relevant kanji to the accepted answer range.


"wa" is the counter for birds, or flying things, right? would it be wrong to use "piki" as a counter for birds? They are an animal.


If I want to separate the number from the birds, how do I do it in this sentence? Is this wrong?



Nothing wrong with your sentence per se.


Can you end this in とんでいる? I'm trying to understand how casual works vs formal. Also can you leave out を in this instance? (In casual speech)


Yes and yes. The casual form would be more appropriate for your in-group, aside from superiors in more formal situations.


And sora o tori ga ni wa tondeimasu?


Grammatically fine. Meaning is intact.


That's what I got marked incorrect for too! Kokawa1 suggested it a year ago, but they haven't seen fit to change the ruling.


Is 鳥の二羽が空を飛んでいますacceptable?


That was the answer I put in, and it was accepted.


So, my input method refuses to do "二羽” for "にわ" for some reason.


That's odd, but you could just use the IME 'add word' function. You might want to learn about it.


How come 二羽の鳥は空を飛んでいます isn't accepted?


Sounds too much like what "the two birds" are doing, rather than what is happening in the world.


2羽鳥 is not acceptable?


As mentioned above, 2羽鳥 or 二羽鳥 sounds like a complex(?) noun stating the qualities of an individual bird (a two-winged bird). It also sounds too much like 鶏(にわとり) , which means 'chicken'.

Just insert a の, like the sentence example suggests and you'll be fine.


Luckily I somehow just assumed that そら お とぶ was a thing, so no-one had to teach me a thing!


Why isn't 空をused when asking what is flying in the sky


Why do you think it isn't (or couldn't be)?



Why is this incorrect?


Odd separation of 鳥 and 二羽. 鳥が二羽 and 二羽の鳥が make sense.


it accepted 鳥が二羽空を飛んでいます。 im not sure if i wrote the sentence the way it wanted though


Obviously not their first choice, but this is one of the cases where they recognize alternative correct answers.


the 'counter' really does confuses the heck out of me. i remembered one of the sentence puts the counter as 犬の二匹 but in this case its 二羽の鳥

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