"These two come by now and then."
Translation:Diese beiden kommen ab und zu mal vorbei.
So here's what my German-speaking husband has to say about "ab und zu mal": "ab und zu" is a bit ambiguous. It means, "off and on", or "back and forth", or stuff along those lines. Using the "mal" makes it specifically about time - i.e., "now and then".
He also said that, although Duo let me answer with "kommen" rather than "vorbeikommen", he thinks that was wrong. If the English is "come by", the German ought to be "vorbeikommen".
Why is ".....mal vorbei" needed?
I wrote "Diese beiden kommen ab und zu", and it was accepted. I came to the forum to discuss the use of "beiden" (irrelevant now), but this translation has really thrown me off balance!
The English doesn't say "for a visit" - I'm not trying to be overly critical, just translating what I thought this meant.
It's very rare that my original answer is accepted, and that it's a simpler version of the one on display, hence the confusion.
Thank you, Voyle.
I find it confusing when one minute, only one answer is accepted, and the next, several seem to do the trick, so to speak. That was the main reason for my question.
I feel as though I'm getting used to Duo's pattern of teaching, then it suddenly changes.
The inconsistency is quite unsettling, as I'm sure you can understand.
These two "visit you", but not daily. Only now and then.
"kommen mal vorbei" = "vorbeikommen" or "vorbeischauen" (stop by/swing by/come over/come around)
My word bank (16NOV20) did include vorbei. I think DL lets some things slide if they don’t do undue damage to the meaning.
While we’re at it (and in the absence of the Moderators), could you ask your source: How important is the location of “mal” here, and of these “spice words” in general? Otherwise put, how flexible are they? My sense is that they can almost go anywhere—as long as grammar rules don’t rule out the location.
I'm afraid my source (my husband) is just as vague as Duo about where "mal" might go in a sentence - you have to have a feel for it, it seems. Sigh.
However, in this particular sentence, he says it really belongs with "ab und zu" because that phrase could mean a lot of different "one the one hand/on the other" things, and adding "mal" nails it to the "time" meaning of "now and then".
- "ab und zu mal" just goes together that way. My husband says it pretty much feels like one word, "abundzumal".
- He got quite weirded out by the sentence (accepted by Duo) "Diese beiden kommen ab und zu", which he says sounds seriously wrong.
- He then went on to say "Ab und zu kommen diese beiden" is almost ok. Not great, but ok; he says it is grammatical but sounds like something is missing. It would be a little better if it were, "Ab und zu werden diese beiden kommen". But he's been trying to verbalize why, and, so far, failing. We have a lot of these conversations, haha. At some point, I just figure these are details I will likely be forgiven for not getting straight when trying to speak in Germany and let it go.