The article is usually added in these "no hay" sentences to emphasise the tangibleness. It's used for things of which you'd expect one specific one to exist, but it doesn't. "No hay sala" could mean that you're looking for some room to do something; "no hay una sala" means that you're looking for a living room, specifically.
I could go with "There is not one living room" for the English translation, but "a" sounds weird to me here somehow.
I believe this is due to the fact that currently most of the houses are not built with separate living room and dining room. For instance, in Portugal we have "sala de estar" for living room and "sala de jantar" for dining room but currently most houses only have a living room that also acts as dining room and, in this case, we just refer it as "sala"... probably the same happens with Spanish.
Well maybe you should refer back to where Duolingo uses pequena/pequeno in regards to a person's size. That is what prompted my question. I've stopped making assumptions with Duolingo. Also if you look in another dictionary they define some as algunas, but duolingo is fixed on unos/unas.
Yes... if you say "una persona pequeña" then the meaning is clear as it is a reference to stature/size ("una persona baja" has the same meaning).
The same applies to the family: the family size... the number of elements. Like @RyagonIV said, you will need a very strong context to point to a different meaning.
The term "baja" is clearer for disambiguation as it will mean "short" (for statures) or "low" (for instance, for heights or temperatures).
Although I only add an apostrophe if the previous word ends with a "s"... both forms appear to be correct (see 1c in https://www.grammarbook.com/punctuation/apostro.asp).
"Parent's" and "parents' " are different words with different grammatical implications, do Duo is right to correct you. "Parent's" refers to the possession(s) of a single parent (parent + 's), and "parents' " if there are multiple parents who possess something (parents + '(s)). (The 's' after the apostrophe is left out if the base word is a plural ending with 's'.)
To give a neater example:
- the girl's dog - one girl has a dog
- the girls' dog - multiple girls share one dog
You did not pay attention to my previous reply that grammatically Duolingo was correct, however when learning another language (especially online) that error should have not counted as one because I got the meaning right. This is not an English grammar course last time I checked. Sorry.
I apologise. That intention didn't come out well from your comments.
Duolingo's correction mechanism has to follow strict rules (it's a computer, after all), and for the sake of simplicity of the programming, these are the same rules for both the base language and the target language.
"The girls's dog" is not correct, though. I'm not sure where you're getting that from. If you look into the article you linked, Rule 2a is the only one that applies here, regarding regular plural nouns.
The 's' can be added if the base noun is singular and ends with an 's', though. In these cases, both versions are alright:
- the princess's horse = the princess' horse
- plural: the princesses' horse
@RyagonIV... I stated the reference (see 1c in https://www.grammarbook.com/punctuation/apostro.asp).
Duo only ignores special characters if they are not inside a word. It will mark you down if you (wrongly) forget or add a dash (like in "well-behaved"), or mess with apostrophes.
The "not inside a word" thing also leads to a fun quirk in the program: If you correctly use a plural-possessive like "their parents' names", it will delete the apostrophe (since it's not inside a word), and then say that you have a typo because the proper sentence has to contain that apostrophe.
Ohhh... as the rule didn't refer singular or plural, I assumed that it would apply also to plural nouns.
Even though I do not use the 's after a noun ending in s, I am glad that I took the English-Spanish course (as opposed to the Portuguese-Spanish)... every now and then, I learn something new in English :)