"My father is next to my mother."
I saw someone else posted a good answer for this on another exercise.
となり is for two SIMILAR objects that are next to each other. For example two houses, two people standing next to each other etc.
よこ is for two DISSIMILAR objects next to each other. For example a person standing next to a house.
A way to memorize this is by the famous Japanese city of よこはま, which I think someone translated to "next to the beach" (despite google translate not recognizing はま... idk I'm not that good at 日本語). The CITY is next to the BEACH, these are DISSIMILAR objects, and therefore the town is called よこはま and not となりはま, if that makes sense :)
However, by this "rule" I was surprised the answer for this exercise isn't using となり, but instead よこ (mom and dad are both humans). Don't know what's up with that, so someone more experienced please fill in :)
Mostly correct. となり can only be used for similar objects, but they don't need to be right next to each other. It is often used for closest similar object, even if it is a bit away. Often translated as neighbour.
よこ is used for any objects, similar or different, but they have to be right next to each other.
This sentence is one where either can be used.
You should use よこ because となり is used for non equals elements Like using となり makes the mother and the father not equals. At the opposite, よこ makes the father and mother equals : you wont use it to say "My mother is next to the table" I am not sure at all but you should look in the way (I learned this rule on this forum Duolingo it is not from me)
As far as I'm aware both are fine, they just mean slightly different things
父は - speaking of my father, he's next to my mother
父が - it's my father who's next to my mother
so one is generally talking about where yr dad is, the other is sort of specifically pointing him out, or it's focused more on the location and then saying who's there. It's subtle (and I think learning the nuances of は and が is like a life quest)
What a difference a year makes.
Yes, it's literally at the side of my/our mother.
For future readers, the "my / our" is implied - in the mathematical sense - by the use of ちち and はは (which are pretty much exclusively used to refer to the speaker's parents, so "our" if talking with other family members).
"Father is mother's next to," was how I tried to think of it, and bam, it was actually correct. Interesting how Japanese treats locational descriptions such as right, left, above, beneath, in front of, behind, and next to as nouns possessed by people or objects. If you start re-wiring your brain to think of it in that way, it starts to help.
If you mean rearranging the position of 父は and 母の横に, then yes you can swap then and it'd still be fine - 母の横に父はいます. There's a slight nuance difference - basically things closer to the verb are considered slightly more important/emphasized - but the grammar is perfectly fine.
Japanese sentence structure is pretty loose. Until you get into more complex sentences (eg sentences with "because", "but", etc.), the only real rule is that the verb (います here) has to come at the end of the sentence.
The inconsistency between は and が in Duolingo use is driving me insane. I have just completed other 3 sentences in the same exercise structured identically like this one where が was correct and は incorrect in this function, and now all of a sudden it is the other way around?
I get it that sometimes both are valid (with only a slightly different nuance), and sometimes only either of them, but I get the sneaking suspicion that Duolingo doesn't know which either.
Okay, so Duo's absolutely terrible at pointing this out because while it follows the Japanese rules it never really explains nuance or certain omissions. は is almost always the topical marker, not of every sentence, or even in its entirety. Because it can be used as a phrasal or notion/action topic marker as well (look up examples such as のは, ことは etc). It's very difficult to contextually determine whether a topic is omitted in text, which is common practice, but you'd have more than a single sentence to go on. が on the other hand is only selectively used as a topic marker. When it is, the general rule to look out for is whether the information following it is new to the listener (added to this idea, it is info that couldn't be readily deduced by the listener either for whatever reason). Other times it's the verbal subject indicator (like を) as a kind of secondary は. And even further, it serves as a tone softening/humble particle at the end of 'intent' sentences (I'd like to...). This should be sufficient to go very far with, but there are a few other nuances, enjoy the journey.