"My wife's father is my father-in-law."
Translation:Le père de ma femme est mon beau-père.
Why does "le" have to be used to start the sentence? Even other similar sentence in this section allows "ma" to be used at the beginning of the sentence.
How is the meaning different? It seems to me, unless the sentence is being judged solely on a grammatical structure which really comes across as very awkward and incorrect to a French ear that the meaning is the same.
The English translations of both (and I'm aware that translations aren't always such a good idea):
Yours: The father of my wife is my father-in-law Mine: My father-in-law is the father of my wife.
Both would be acceptable in English I believe--but again perhaps not in French. I lived in France and learned French without really studying things like grammar but instead by just listening, speaking (and surviving lol) which is why I'm doing Duolingo but I'm pretty sure a French person wouldn't blink twice at either one (again--with the way I learned French perhaps this is wrong). Thanks for your quick reply--really like that in general the mods respond quickly and I've seen some really interesting and good discussions on these boards. Best to you!
We have a standard in Duolingo translations that we must re-translate our translation back into the original language to see if we get the original sentence. This "back-translation" is used throughout the French course and is also used in the reverse course. So if we begin to interpret meanings instead of translating close to the grammatical structure, there will be no consistency.
I understand where you're coming from, but it's not consistent with the principles of translating in Duolingo. In real life, of course you'll be more than understood.