"Where were the fish yesterday?"
Translation:¿Dónde estuvieron los peces ayer?
"estuvieron" and "estaban" both mean "they were" so why was I marked wrong?
Estuvieron » preterite
Estaban » imperfect
Both are past tenses but have a difference in meaning.
Preterite » an action or event begun and completed at a definite past point in time. In this case, ayer.
» an action or event that was habitual in the past, recurring over a period of time - eg, "The fish used to be here".
» Or something that happened at an indefinite time in the past, or the timing of when it did happen is not important, so there is no clearly defined start and finish time - "The fish were here" (at some time or other) - and may still be here.
If you have a question with a question word, the conjugated verb has to direct follow that question word.
English does it, too: "Where were the fish?", not "Where the fish were?"
07/23/18. Perhaps, but your fish would be swimming against the prevailing tide of Preterite tense examples, particularly because the Imperfect tense has not yet been introduced.
I now think they rejected estaban because "ayer" makes the time reference an enclosed one that is completed. But I think the same sentence could be correct with estaban if the surrounding context made it clear that the fish were there as a background condition while something else happened.
I believe it's because this sentence is about location so requires a conjugation of estar not ser.
Pez » a live fish (eg, still in a river or the sea, not yet caught).
Pescado » a fish caught or that has been prepared ready for eating.
For the subject to be singular - el pez - the verb would have to be singular too, estuvo. Estuvieron is plural (third person, preterite), so it is conjugated for a plural subject, los peces.
And if you are translating from English to Spanish, to understand "fish" to be singular the verb used would have to be "was" and not "were":
"Where was it (the fish)" cf "Where were they (the fish)".
It should have accepted el pez estuvo as it doesn't specify in the sentence that it is plural
But, Becky, the English sentence--Duo's prompt--uses "were," so the subject must be plural. See Lesaken's post (just above yours, now, although posts do move around).
"Fish" is a plurale tantum, which means that the singular and plural forms look the same. One fish, two fish, and so on. English typically does this with animals, like sheep, deer or moose.
The verb here actually gives the clue how many fish we're talking about. "Were" is the plural form, the singular would be "was".
- Where was the fish? - one fish
- Where were the fish? - multiple fish
SPramodSri, in English "the fish" can be either singular or plural. But, "were" is only plural, so you need estuvieron in Spanish.