For heaven's sake, whoever is putting together the Hebrew program, fix the mistakes! I already speak more than basic Hebrew and trying to get past the mistakes is frustrating, and boring. It makes me not want to use the program.

May 7, 2018


You're right that the mistakes in DL Hebrew can be frustrating.

A few months ago, I wrote up some of my own criticisms of the Duolingo Hebrew course and made them available at The change to crowns has made some of my complaints obsolete, but a lot of the document still apples.

Also taken from a few months back, here are some English sentences that DL rejected in a single evening:

  1. My sister never fails at tests. (DL wanted "in tests")
  2. This house is being burned (DL wanted "getting burned")
  3. The milk was finished (DL wanted "has finished")
  4. If I didn't beg, he wouldn't have given me the key. (DL wanted "If I hadn't begged ...")
  5. Who will ask for the check? (DL wanted "bill")
  6. Don't be alone on the Sabbath (DL wanted "on Saturday" or "on Shabbat" as a translation for ביום שבת).


On the plus side, my write-up led to a very good exchange with Aire Libre. We agreed about some things, and on others we wound up agreeing to disagree. But some of the things I was complaining about have been fixed since then, so please give them credit for listening!

Bottom line: DL Hebrew is still a Work In Progress. Its producers are stretched thin, and they don't always recognize their mistakes. (Their command of American English is particularly weak, and the modules at the bottom of the tree are particularly problem-ridden.) But they're working at it, and they're VOLUNTEERS who get very little support from DL central. Over time, the site keeps improving. Despite the frustrations, I've learned a lot of Hebrew from DL, and look forward to learning a lot more.

May 7, 2018

Well, if they'd like some help, I'm a native English speaker! :) Its just particularly frustrating to me because I already speak some Hebrew and need to get past the mistakes to get into the higher levels.

May 8, 2018

I hear you. The trap to avoid is letting the mistakes get to you. I try to shrug them off as just a small delay, and sometimes I succeed in keeping a positive attitude. Other times they drive me nuts. C'est la vie.

May 8, 2018

Well, they drive me nuts. Sacre bleu! (Lo tov!)

May 8, 2018

Thank you for the examples! I was curious and my Hebrew is far too simple at this point to detect them myself. (Or at least, I haven't encountered the translations to English that might have an obvious mistake like some of the above examples.)

May 8, 2018

I know Hebrew has some errors. As a total beginner I can't spot all of them myself. But I have seen in places where the pronoun doesn't agree with the fem/masc verb ending. But your points aren't all mistakes.

1 and 2 - should be accepted, and in time I'm sure Duolingo will change it, but it's not a big deal.

3 I think that's a different tense/meaning. Maybe they are the same in Hebrew I don't know, but they are not the same in English.

5 Is the difference between American and European English. Duolingo will change that eventually.

6 Even I can see there is no "the" in the Hebrew sentence. They are trying to teach us to recognise "the" so it's obviously wrong to include it when it's not there.

May 8, 2018

Sentence 3. The setting was an exhausted supply of milk, and they were teaching passive verb tenses, so the active construction "has finished" is simply wrong, at least in American English. "Has been finished" would have been OK, but that wasn't suggested.

Sentence 4. This one is actually a grammatical error on my part, but is the sort of thing that native English speakers say all the time.

Sentence 6. On sabbath vs. Saturday vs. shabbat, it's not an issue of "the". DL just doesn't (or at least didn't) recognize the word "sabbath", which requires an article. This is just one of many Hebrew-based words where DL insists on transliterating the Hebrew rather than accepting the English equivalent. Until recently they even insisted on "al ha-aish" instead of "barbecue"!

I'm not saying the translations that DL prefers are necessarily wrong. Some are (1 and 3), and some aren't (2, 4, 5, and 6). My point is simply that, half a dozen times in a single evening, my perfectly reasonable English sentences got shot down. That's not unusual, and it can be extremely frustrating!

Which touches on BorisB20's point. IMO, truly incorrect English sentences should not be accepted. (Sorry, Boris.) However, all remotely reasonable English sentences SHOULD be accepted, for exactly the reasons that Boris explained. It's not the job of DL Hebrew to force us to speak English in a particular style, be it American or British or Canadian or with a preference for one synonym over another, or to enforce subtle grammatical rules that most native English speakers ignore. It IS the job of DL Hebrew to teach us to translate from Hebrew into our favorite version of (more or less) correct English. That means coding in a MUCH bigger bank of acceptable translations than it currently has.

That said, the bank does seem to be gradually growing. (3 cheers for barbecue!) The developers understand that there's a problem, and they're gradually fixing it. They have a long way to go, but they're heading in the right direction.

May 8, 2018

I'm with you! You explained it very well :)

May 9, 2018

Shouldn't it be "the cheque*"?

May 8, 2018

"Check" is the American spelling, for both meanings: money bank order and for the bill.

May 8, 2018

Two examples, putting "the" where it doesn't belong. Using adjectives that are wrong for the noun. Lots of little silly frustrating things that should be fixed in the program.

May 7, 2018

Thanks for your reply! If you would be willing, could you give a specific example so I could see what you're referring to?

May 7, 2018

As a fellow student, I am curious. To what are you referring?

May 7, 2018

I would like to say many thanks to Duolingo for that program "Hebrew from English".

I can not speak about English part of this topic, but Hebrew language is perfect. A few day ago I had been finished 25 level. see account - LeonidBr. It is true I was learned Hebrew before Doulingo and know good. I hope this program Duolingo is a very interesting and important for Hebrew learners .

Good luck, LeonidBr

May 8, 2018

But please, fixing the English grammar DON'T REMOVE the old variants. For the non-native English speaker it is good to get wrong English also accepted.

Just make the "good English" translation the main one, but leave all other "bad English" translations as accepted variants. (And add more of them :) )

Thank you!

May 8, 2018

"Bad" english is not an acceptable variant. If you are going to learn, it should be correct no matter what language.

May 8, 2018

I don't think so. When things starting to be more complicated in Hebrew, you have also to deal with complex grammar constructs in English, that you not had an opportunity to learn. This is not an English course and not every one here speak English on a high enough level. Me not.

Also "bad" English variants doesn't hurt anyone. They shouldn't show up in the exercises. They should just be accepted, if you type it in or select word-by-word.

May 8, 2018

If you are here to learn, you should be given the correct things to learn, not "bad" grammar or mistakes. And yes "bad variants" do hurt people. You are supposed to be learning properly, not learning zevel.

May 8, 2018

Please read, what I write. The "bad" variants are not showing up. And nobody is learning from them. They allow DL to accept a sentence showing the main "good" variant after that. That's how DL works.

Getting long sentence right translated from Hebrew and not getting accepted because of some rare exception in English grammar, that you didn't get right, is not very motivating. I would like to learn English in an English course.

You see my English, its way better than Hebrew, but sometimes I have multiple errors because of my bad English in a single exercise having actually 0 errors in Hebrew.

May 8, 2018

Are you able to learn English here, Boris?

May 10, 2018

@Corinnebelle Yes, I can learn English, but not, when I need to quickly gain more Hebrew knowledge before the next trip to Israel.

And that's the point. The motivation. I don't want to have to gain the decent knowledge of english first before going for DL-leven 12 in Hebrew. Just think of all this "future" tenses in English compared to a single "future" tense in Hebrew :)

May 11, 2018

Ok, I only know English so I am not acquainted with all the problems with the "future tenses" in English. I see your problem. Maybe you need to find a site that teaches you Hebrew from your language.

May 12, 2018

BorisB20 hello!

Thank you for your explanation. There was really old version from Jerom K. Jerom "Three men in a boat to say nothing about a dog", that I had been used.

Good luck, LeonidBR

May 9, 2018

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