1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Spanish
  4. >
  5. "¿No encuentras tu diccionari…

"¿No encuentras tu diccionario?"

Translation:You can't find your dictionary?

June 7, 2018

115 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/s3amkelley

I'm not sure why "You didn't find your dictionary?" isn't a correct translation. And, to my ear, it sounds perfectly natural in English.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Serenity132

"Encontraste" is the past tense


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Simon293604

But the phrase says 'encuentras', not 'encontraste'.


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

That's what I put too, but I think maybe that sounds too much like past tense. If they didn't find their dictionary, that sounds like they've finished looking. If they can't find their dictionary, maybe they're still looking but haven't had any luck so far.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Alessandra230797

I thought that too. But encuentras is present


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

Did you not find your dictionary?


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

No, it's not past tense.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Mark691348

Should be ‘can you not find’ or ‘can’t you find’


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Mark691348

‘You didn’t’ is past, but the question is ‘you can’t?’ or ‘can’t you?’ which is present, asking if you still can’t find it.


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

"you didn't find your dictionary". Exactly what I put & it was rejected


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/David875624

Because, as has been argued in this topic before, the conjugation 'encuentras' indicates a present, perhaps even still ongoing action. A past action, as implied by 'didn't' would have been conveyed using 'encontraste'.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Master282225

And i'm not sure why does tyour comment has so many likes.


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

People who agree with the sentiment in the post will up-vote it.

BTW, I'm pretty sure that s3amkelley edited the original post. It used to say "didn't" instead of "don't." That's why the discussions immediately following the first post talks about the past tense.

"Don't find" should be accepted; "didn't find" should not have been as it is in the past tense where the Spanish sentence was in the present.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Barry426988

There is no word for "can't" in the spanish sentence


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/marcy65brown

No, sometimes it's built in to the present tense.
No encuentro mis llaves. I can't find my keys.
¿Te ayudo, abuelito? Can I help you, Grandpa?
¿Me traes un café? Can you bring me a coffee?
The new sentences seem to be stressing that.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Cheryl797502

Thank you for that very helpful explanation. Your posts are insightful for learning the way native speakers communicate.


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

Another verb where this often happens is contar con = i.e. you can count on me, for example. Here's an example sentence from contexto.reverso.net

Tú sabes que cuentas conmigo para todo.
You know you can count on me for everything.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sguthrie1

Except this is a very different kind of example. Verbs-with-prepositions are known as "phrasal verbs". Spanish has many phrasal verbs -- they variously use "con", "a" or "de".

For a list of English phrasal verbs, see this: http://www.lingolex.com/spanish.htm

For Spanish phrasal verbs, see these: http://spanishplus.tripod.com/VerbsandPrepositions.htm http://www.bowdoin.edu/~eyepes/newgr/ats/append.htm#appb

However, this "can't" example does not involve a phrasal verb.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SusanIvers70

Thank you for posting these websites!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/nEjh0qr4

Thanks for the explanation, Marcy! Duo gives this as an example (https://www.duolingo.com/skill/es/School-4/tips) but without explanation.


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

The more literal translation: Aren't you finding your dictionary? seems awkward.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sguthrie1

I agree. And I believe that is why the English has been changed to be more "natural".

I think of this as more an "idiomatic expression." -- the literal is too strange, and needs to be modified.
Another example (from Duo): "Estamos sentados en la mesa de atrás en el restaurant." ( We were sitting at the back....").

De niño = As a child....

Other examples: Había una vez = Once upon a time there was ...
Tenemos ganas de ir al cine = We feel like going to...


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

I don't have a problem with "You're not finding your dictionary?" In fact, I'm pretty sure I've used it often, to my husband, about his glasses, and it's usually "You're still not finding . . .?"


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

Why is it that so many of the weird sentences apply to husbands?


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

Good point. OK. He could probably say the same about me, but it would be my coffee cup.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Mark691348

Hey, I resemble that remark!! Anyway we can’t add words like ‘still’ - Duo has a meltdown


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Thrse679611

Would this be OK? "Can't you find your dictionary?"


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

I think that would be fine and should be reported.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/David8970

It's not so they haven't fixed that yet


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Doctor-John

"You can't find your dictionary?" is a good translation. Grammatically you might think that therefore "Can't you find your dictionary?" would work, too. But the latter has a different feel to it. It suggests that you're not really trying or that you should be able to find it. So I think Duolingo is right not to accept it.

NOTE: We have no way of knowing whether the contributors to the course don't accept it, because they recognize the problem with that version or simply because this version didn't occur to them. I hope people will not report this, because the contributors might make the mistake of accepting it.


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

In my opion the correct traslation is: "Don't you find your dictionary?" or "Can't you find your dictionary?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Kristend1

"don't you find your dictionary" isn't grammatically correct English.


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

Granted, it's not a common way to express the idea, but there is nothing GRAMMATICALLY incorrect with "Don't you find your dictionary?" (Otherwise, the ultra-common "Didn't you find..." wouldn't be correct -- and it's the same sentence as "Don't you find..." but only in the past tense.)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Doctor-John

The problem with "Don't you find your dictionary?" is that no native speaker would say that. It sounds totally alien.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Mark691348

‘Can’t you find . . .’ is accepted sept 2021


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

I used, "Don't you find your dictionary?"


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

Was it accepted?


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

The LIGHTBULB finally went off!

I quickly and incorrectly translated this sentence into the past tense as "you didn't find your dictionary" because a LITERAL translation, "you not find your dictionary," while in the present tense is obviously wrong.

This is why the correct translation is "you can't find" -- that's the only way to put this in the present tense in English and have the question make grammatical sense.

Sneaky Duo teaching me more when I get the answers wrong than when I'm right!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Anne802415

You can't find your dictionary needs to be said with intonation indicating it's a question. I think people usually say 'Can't you find your dictionary?


[deactivated user]

    You can't find your dictionary?: ¿No puedes encontrar tu diccionario?, no es lo mismo a ¿No encuentras tu diccionario?


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

    Al inglés le gusta usar "can" en las oraciones de percepción, especialmente si son negativas:

    • No veo el televisor. - I can't see the TV.
    • No encontramos las llaves. - We cannot find the keys.
    • No te oigo. - I can't hear you.

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/archrodney
    • No veo LA tele.
    • No encoNtramos las llaves.

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

    Thank you for spotting the typo. For tele, I was going for "el televisor" instead of "la televisión".


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

    "Tele" and "Televisión" are feminine. "Televisor" is masculine. I hope this helps.


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

    Oh dear, you're right, televisor doesn't abbreviate as tele. I thought it'd work like radio.

    Thank you, I'll correct my sentence.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Marcodipa1

    English question form is not respected. It should be: can't you find the dictionary?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/1dontbelieveit

    Can't you find your dictionary?


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

    I find it interesting that the use of 'can' in english makes it sound polite, as the literal translations are often ... I help you? Not... Can I help you? This explains a lot about cultural differences in how we ask questions.


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

    Yes, and there is some variation available as well.
    Can I help you?
    May I help you?
    Might I help you? (less common)
    Could I help you? (very common)


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/David8970

    Ok typing "Can't find your dictionary?" is wrong????


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

    The subject is missing. In formal English grammar, you need to mention a subject in a question.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rosa235487

    Sometimes the subject is inferred but that's no reason for a downgrade so I reversed it. You and Marcy 65 Brown are the most helpful ones on the whole Duolingo forum.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rosa235487

    Sometimes the subject is inferred, but that is no reason to downgrade you so I reversed it. You and Marcy65Brown are the most helpful ones on the whole forum.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/David875624

    In conversational English 'Can't find your dictionary?' is a perfectly normal thing to say, imho.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/helen.pope

    Can't you find your dictionary? is a much more natural way to say this sentence but it's not accepted.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/rnp612

    did you find makes more sense


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

    No, did is used for past tense. Here the Spanish means something like: So, you haven't been able to find your dictionary yet, right? The Spanish can convey this meaning just by using the present tense. English can communicate this with can + the main verb rather than having to resort to "you haven't been able to"


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tsnet2009

    I think the answer is Ok under conversation . But i don't like it.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RebeccaBan13

    I didn't hear the S on encuentras but should have known to use it to agree with TU


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/allison384607

    I am curious of this verb, does encuentrar mean to be able to find? If not, shouldn't it be no puedes encuentrar tu diccionario?


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

    The verb is encontrar, it means "to find", and it shouldn't.

    English treats verbs of perception a bit differently than Spanish. When you're asking about being able to do something or negate it, you normally use "can" in English. Spanish is fine with just the verb.

    • ¿Oyes eso? - Can/do you hear that?
    • ¡No encuentro mi hijo! - I can't find my son!
    • ¿Sientes el aire caliente? - Can/do you feel the warm air?

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CttcN3gi

    ‘Didn’t you find your dictionary?’ means pretty well exactly the same and should be acceptable!


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

    Encuentras is a present-tense form, so the search is still going on.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/margareta41567

    Why isn't "don't you find your dictionary" correct?


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

    Margareta, would you commonly say that in English? It sounds odd to me without "can".


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Simona_91

    Really??! Well I think literally is the perfect translation but it doesn't make sense in english? I have more problem to write good in english than in spanish sometimes xD


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

    are you not going to find your dictionary? LOL, confused


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

    The Spanish sentence: "No encuentras tu diccionario?" doesn't have verbs that would require "going to find." Because the literal translation "You're not finding your dictionary?" is not the usual way English speakers would ask the question, the preferred translation is "You can't find your dictionary?"


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sanat532

    I don't understand this English, Where a question starts with YOU instead of CAN'T.


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

    Sanat, this is a so-called "declarative question". It's a type of question that uses the ame word order as a statement, and it is used to express surprise about something, rather than genuinely looking for an answer:

    "I have to be somewhere else next week."
    "You can't come on Tuesday? But we need you."


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sanat532

    If we don't follow grammar, we're wrong. And when DL doesn't follow, we're wrong. અજબ વિડંબણા છે, યાર.


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

    From the lovely characters in your post that I can't even recognize, I'm guessing that Spanish is not your second language and that English is probably not your first. I wish I had the stamina to work on so many languages! (And different alphabets!)

    I'm sorry that you're frustrated, but Ryagon is correct. In both English and Spanish, one can make a "statement" into a question by use of intonation (rising at the end) when we're speaking and by virtue of the punctuation when we're writing. In the latter case, Spanish is ahead of English because it puts the inverted question mark at the beginning of the sentence to clue the reader in early on.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sanat532

    Sir, Thanks. You guessed it right. I'm from India. Here in India most people know at least three languages. Read, write & speak. Every language has its own beauty. I'm not frustrated, just annoyed. See, we're learners. We translate the words and that's also as taught to us. ¿No encuentras tu diccionario? would mean to me. Don't you find your dictionary? There may be another translation also. But would you say that my translation is wrong?


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

    You're welcome.

    And yes, "Don't you find your dictionary" would seem to be a decent translation except that modern English speakers don't usually speak that way.

    Here's a cool way to use use Google translate. Type in "don't you find your dictionary?" It will give you "no encuentras tu diccionario?" But when you switch languages (from Spanish to English), the translation for "no encuentras tu diccionario?" will be "Can't find your dictionary?" What this tells me is that "don't you find your dictionary" would be comprehensible to an English Speaker, but the preferred way to say the English phrase will use "can't."

    I often use this little trick when I'm trying to figure out if my Spanish sentence makes sense. I'll put in MY sentence and Google will give a translation that generally corresponds to the idea I wanted to convey, but then when I switch it, I often find a slightly (or more than slightly) different sentence. I've learned a lot this way.

    BTW, "Cora" is a feminine name in English.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sanat532

    Thank you, ma'am.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Jerry647352

    The regular speed audio clearly starts "Me encuentras..." not "No encuentras...". Can Spanish speakers actually hear the "No" or is it just built into the phase?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/b5PYcwUx

    Why wouldn't it be "No puedes encontrar"? "No encuentras" should translate to "you don't find", or "you aren't finding", should it not?


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

    If you scroll through previous discussion posts, you'll find that this issue has been discussed (a LOT). Bottom line, sometimes a literal translation isn't right when it sounds funny to Native English ears. But I do agree that "you're not finding your dictionary?" or "you aren't finding your dictionary?" should be viable options. They aren't THAT far from ordinary spoken English.


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

    Didn't you find your dictionary....its correct as per my translation...but you know ruthless and eccentric Duolingo...


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/nEjh0qr4

    Puneetkalra, I think your observation has already been covered thoroughly in the discussion. You'll probably find why "didn't" is not appropriate if you read the previous posts.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ReubenBrig1

    I believe that a better answer would be 'Can't you find your dictionary?' Which is more like the way we would ask this question instead of 'you can't find your dictionary?'


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ReubenBrig1

    I believe that a better answer would be 'Can't you find your dictionary', which is more like hpw we would ask this question in English instead of 'You can't find your dictionary'


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CatherineS169090

    In English we put the verb before the subject in a question; also why "can't" and not 'don't'?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jepl1234

    I'm getting two different sentences on fast and slow speeds. Fast is the one Duo requires. Anyone with same problem?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JohnAnders798850

    This sentence is really difficult to translate with anything like naturalness, because normally it would be put in the past tense. I tried "Aren't you finding your dictionary" but it wouldn't take it. Knowing that Spanish sometimes implies "can", or leaves it out when English uses it, is helpful, but I only learned it by checking the discussion.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JohnAnders798850

    I wish Duolingo spent more time fixing glitches in its questions and less lime animating its figures.


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

    She clearly says "me encuentras", which makes no sense in this sentence .


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Martin465129

    Why is 'couldn't you find your dictionary' wrong?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Steve4of6

    Since this is a question, as a native English speaker I would have said "can't you" not "you can't" which is what Duo wants


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RossGraham13

    From English to Spanish in the word selection element, Duo gives the only answer as "You can't find your dictionary". Surely that would be "No puedes encontrar tu diccionario"?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Deb829064

    Could it be "Aren't you finding your dictionary?"


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

    "Can't you find your dictionary?" should be accepted. "Didn't you find your dictionary?" should be accepted also. Per previous examples of correct Duo translation, "No encuentras" can be translated as "you didn't find" despite the change of tense, and also "No encuentras" can be translated as "You can't find". We are doing a "meaning" translation here, not a "literal" word for word translation, and rightfully so.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ges1908

    Why not "don't you ..." ?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LPF274836

    I would just like to clearly hear the endings of the verbs. I have a feeling that I will never learn Spanish because the language is spoken so fast and I can't hear some of the words. I am dyslexic and a slow talking Southern person. I am pushing forward but so discouraged. I'm not stupid.... I have a master's degree in science and math. I need to learn Spanish!


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Deltadoll1

    Microphone is not working. I repeated the statement many times.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Angela750656

    Didn't sound like 'no'


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Amanda623955

    Ya no tengo más el diccionario. Lo puedo recuperar?


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

    PODER. no PUEDO ver la palabra que significa "can't". No PUEDO creer que mi respuesta "You don't find your dictionary?" as awkward as it sounds, wasn't accepted. Of course, I'm no expert.


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

    I think it's not accepted because it sounds awkward. :)

    English prefers using "can" with verbs of perception, but Spanish is fine with just the main verb.


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

    why is "did not find" not accepted?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Teresa265914

    Did not find is past tense. But this sentence is in present tense.


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

    WHy is You needed in the begining of the sentence. Isnt Cant find your dictionary also acceptable?


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

    In statements and question in English, unlike Spanish, you always or almost always need to show the subject. The main exception to this is commands / imperatives. The reason for this is that the verb conjugation system in English contains much less indication in term of who the subject is. For example:

    I went
    You went
    He went She went
    It went
    'We went
    You all went
    They went

    All those conjugation use the same word, unlike Spanish where there might be 6 variations.

    An extreme example of the need for the subject is the dummy subject like follows:

    It is raining.
    Llueve or está lloviendo

    It is nice weather today.
    Hace buen tiempo.


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

    That shouldn't be acceptable because it's bad grammar. You're missing the subject in the question.

    Even the translation by Duolingo is bad grammar hence the down votes. The correct way to translate this is "Can't you find your dictionary?" or "Don't you find your dictionary?"


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

    This question is really asking, "You lost your phone!" No one uses a dictionary anymore.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Deltadoll1

    Microphone not working


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

    It should be: Can't you find your glasses?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/David875624

    It should be: "Can't you find your glasses?"

    How does 'diccionario' translate to 'glasses'? 🤔


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

    This translation is WRONG. It is not a question, and there is no 'poder' in the original so 'do' must do.


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

    The translation is not wrong and just as in the other 28 lessons prior, intonation more than "CAN" is what tells you when it is a question.

    If you're still barking about this this far into the lessons, you haven't learned much.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/David8970

    I beg to differ, I have learned something.... It's the rules built into the system which can make this flustrating at times. I said it before and I will say it again, in a physical class it would not be the same problem.

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