"Can dogs dream?"

Translation:狗会做梦吗?

March 13, 2018

12 Comments
This discussion is locked.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Gabrielle145359

Why is this 会? I thought it should be 能 .


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AbunPang

For innate abilities you use 会. 能 (or 可以) is used to say that something is (im)possible due to outside factors (可以 has a somewhat greater tendency to imply permission/prohibition specifically). For example:

  • 我不会开车。"I can't (= don't have the ability to) drive."
  • 这里不能开车。"[You] can't drive here (maybe it's prohibited or maybe there is not enough space)."
  • 这里不可以开车。"It's not allowed to drive here."

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Neil614539

Thank you Abun Pang.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AbunPang

No, 梦 by itself is not used as a verb “to dream” in modern Standard Chinese. It can have that meaning in compounds (e.g. 梦到/梦见 “to dream of, to see in a dream”) but for “to dream, to have a dream/dreams” by itself you have to use the verb-object construction 做梦.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Neil614539

狗可以做梦吗 also acceptable?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AbunPang

可以 is not used for innate abilities, only for things which are (not) possible due to outside factors, usually permission/prohibition. So 狗可以做梦吗 sounds like “are dogs allowed to dream” to me. Innate abilities are expressed with 会.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Bapkates

I thought that 会 was used with actions that can be learned (like speaking a language or playing a sport). I thought it shouldn't be used with innate verbs (like 睡觉) What is the exception here?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AbunPang

Maybe 会 can be thought of more as an “inner ability” – as in the subject has the qualities and skills necessary to perform the action. Most of the times you encounter it, it’s about acquired skills, but it could be an inherent natural ability as well as with dogs and dreaming. The main thing is that it is not talking about external factors enabling the subject (for example 狗能睡觉 and especially 狗可以睡觉 would sound more like dogs are permitted to dream, or that there is no other external factor preventing them from dreaming).


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Bapkates

I see. So '狗会睡觉吗?' would be grammatically correct to use if one wanted to know whether or not dogs were capable of sleeping, only that isn't a question that most people need to ask.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AbunPang

Correct. Although you can also understand that sentence as habitual: “Do dogs habitually/regularly/frequently dream?” 会 can be used in that sense as well (at least it is in Taiwan; I’m not entirely sure if it is in the PRC standard as well).


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/NathanRasm

A friend from Fujian also told me this sentence is habitual 会.

Your "inner ability" explanation makes the most sense of anything I've seen. Thanks for the time you spend teaching us!

Learn Chinese in just 5 minutes a day. For free.