"It takes about ten minutes to get to school from the train station."
I'm always bamboozled by this sentence too. I never got it wrong on the first try :(. It helps me to break it down like this. (えきから) from station; (学校まで) until/to school; (十分くらい) about ten minutes; (かかります) takes or costs. So I made my own dummy formula: [starting point+から] [destination+まで] [time required (+くらい for approximation)] [かかります].
I've found that I learn better if I read through the comments when I'm doing a new lesson. Generally, someone will have explained the confusing bits. I didn't need to do that as much with Spanish, but Japanese is much more difficult because it's so different from English in so many ways.
I'd really recommend going through a grammar guide separately and just use Duo for practice.
If the translations on Duo aren't being helpful you can copy and paste text into an online dictionary like jisho.org
If you're still stumped after that try to break down the sentence into parts, translate those completely literally, then put it together in English.
Breaking down the sentence: えきから train station-from 学校まで school-to/until 十分くらい 10 minutes-about かかります take/require (a resource, in this case time)
Putting it together: Train station-from school-to/until 10 minutes-about take/require. Then rearranging into better English: It takes about 10 minutes get to the school from the train station.
These days, most Japanese agree that they are interchangeable and used at the preference of the speaker. While the kanji for both of these words is represented as 位, it is usually recognized as くらい. For formal writing it is probably better to use くらい (just in case the other party is a stickler), but for informal writing and conversational Japanese either one will do.
Apparently it was a little different during the Edo era, a few hundred years ago, but this won't really impact its versatility in modern usage.
I believe that Duo likely mixes it up just to screw with us ;)
Your sentence says 'approximately' twice.
くらい does mean about/approximately. As does 'ごろ'. Their usages are different though. Use ごろ when you want to refer to an approximate time, not an approximate amount of time.
十時ごろ = around 10:00 十分ぐらい = around 10 minutes
ぐらい can be substituted in colloquial Japanese for ごろ, but the reverse cannot be done.
Is it possible (grammatically correct) to put the time-related phrase "十分くらい" at the beginning of the sentence? If not, could you please explain why? A lot of other sentences I have seen with time-related phrases, such as explaining the time of day, usually take place at the beginning of the sentence in Japanese.
While you can create a grammatically correct sentence with 十分くらい at the beginning, that word order would not sound very natural. Normally, you will list the departure and arrival points before the time estimate, as most Japanese sentences follow the SOV order.
So, while you could say 十分くらいかかります、えきから学校まで。, this order would be more casual and colloquial (aka nonstandard).
If you were to say 'We close in about 5 minutes', that would be different and 十分くらい being at the beginning would be natural, with the verb at the end.
more about the ～分 counter here:
English order is generally irrelevant to a loose translation. DL might expect the same order, but that's a separate issue. What is important is the starting (departure) point and the end (arrival) point.
In English, the standard order is 'From A to B', but that order can easily be reversed.
The same is not true in Japanese, it just sounds less linear and less natural. Not to say it can't be done and understood, but it extremely unusual.
That's right. "Get TO school, FROM the train station." "Kara" denotes the starting point, and "made" denotes the end point. In English, "to" indicates the end destination while "from" indicates the start. If you're at the train station and your end destination is the school, then "kara" needs to attach to "eki." You also start with the set off point and end with the destination. So, "Point A kara Point B made iki masu." It doesn't matter that the English sentence notes the destination first. What's important is "to" and "from."
i'm having the most trouble hearing this sentence** compared to any other sentence in duolingo so far.
when i hear the pauses it makes me think it's saying other words, just thought i'd let you guys know that as a fresh learner, this sentence would definitely be not catchable / misheard by other learners like me if we were in real conversation.
in my brain i hear:
it cuts up so much that after the 2nd pause, i'm totally lost until i train this sentence with another text to speech as well.
yeah like... my brain can stop and remember and then put back together if i get thrown off by 1 stop that i'm not used to, but when it stops twice in 1 sentence my brain gives up and can't try to remember and translate the whole sentence...
it's because i'm not fully used to each word, so the time it takes for my brain to realize what "学校" means... like a few milliseconds before it finishes understanding i get hit with another pause and everything fails.
Once i get more used to each word this won't happen
Japanese seems to always leave as much to context as possible. So it feels like adding "takes' would be unneccessary. It feels like it should just be くらい and drop かかろ and end up with a better sentence. I have no idea why かかろ is added.
Also 'I' is also common in English yet its all the above to use in Japanese. Whats common in english is irrelevant.
I wouldn't say that what's common in English is completely irrelevant, since it takes a knowledge of both languages in order to translate one into the other. If you wan the English-speakers to understand what you're saying, it's not a bad idea to take into account how they understand things. Plus, you're trying to translate an idea first, and exact wording second. That said, what is common in English has no bearing on what is common in Japanese. It only comes into play during translation.