1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Spanish
  4. >
  5. "The students can't find thei…

"The students can't find their pens."

Translation:Los estudiantes no encuentran sus bolígrafos.

June 7, 2018



Shouldn't the translation be "The students don't find their pens."? I don't see poder here.


Also acceptable should be "are not finding their pens."

However, I have decided to think of this as "idiomatic language." Idiomatic language should not be translated literally, but more "naturally."

On the other page, people suggested that the Duo answer is more "natural". I accept that.


I used, "Los estudiantes no pueden encontrar a sus boligrafos." Please tell me why that's wrong, DL.

  • 2059

You don't need an "a" as that would translate to 'The students can't find to their pens'. You only use a personal 'a' when the DO is a person or a pet. Los estudiantes no pueden encontrar sus boligrafos is accepted.


It's not accepted when i wrote the same sentence


"Los estudiantes no pueden encontrar sus bolígrafos" was accepted for me as of 2/4/20.


Not accepted 2/1/21.


GRRR. Copy/paste your answer. Your post doesn't add anything to the discussion.


marked wrong 5/19/20


Could you cut and paste your answer so that we can see what you mean by "marked wrong"? I ASSUME that you mean the answer DefinitelyHuman wrote, but I can't tell.

And, if you can't cut and paste, just trying to exactly replicate your answer will often show you the seemingly insignificant error you may have made (I know that it has for me).


Not accepted 1/16/2020 reported


"Los estudiantes no pueden encontrar sus boligrafos¨ accepted 2020-10-11. Really check your spelling when you report that is not accepted. Initially I wrote "puedan" rather than "pueden" and it was NOT accepted for that reason.


I used, "la estudiantes no puedan encontrar sus boligrafos." Had the sentence said, "The students aren't finding their pens," then I wouldn't have used "puedan"; however, the word "can't" before "find" indicates to me their inability to find their books.


Las estudiantes = the students


"Las" is correct, only if all the students are female. But if any are male, you must use "los".


In which case, Duo needs to be more flexible on this because context doesn't indicate gender so we may assume male, female or mixed as we so desire. Context is everything and in a standalone sentence such as this is up to the reader to decide.


"Las estudiantes no encuentran sus boligrafos" is also accepted.


I agree. I came here to ask the same thing. I see several others wonder about this too.

This dictionary gives 'meaning can't be found..." as "no se puede encontrar...".
And, "¿Dónde puedo encontrar un cine en esta población?" (Where can I find..." And "No podía encontrar la entrada..." (I couldn't find the ticket...") And, "Aquí se pueden encontrar varias especies...." https://www.spanishdict.com/translate/encontrar

I suggest that Duo is wrong.

Unfortunately, it can't be reported here. Perhaps in the Discussion pages?


Duo is not wrong. This is one of those cases where literal translations can hang you up.

In English, we tend to say "can't find" more often than "don't find." In Spanish, they're more likely to say "don't find." It's not incorrect to say "no pueden encontrar," but it's also not necessary to use poder (even when used in English).

@rla951, your answer may not have been accepted because "la estudiantes" should have been "los estudiantes" and "puedan" should have been "pueden."


This issue was also discussed elsewhere. Note this link from DUO: (https://www.duolingo.com/skill/es/School-4/tips)


Same here. Don't get it


Me too. I think it is right


If you're referring to the exact sentence in the comment you replied to, "la estudiantes no puedan encontrar sus boligrafos", it's wrong because (as SariahLily has pointed out) it should be "las estudiantes" (not "la estudiantes") and "pueden", not "puedan".
If you got rejected for trying something similar but didn't have those same mistakes, it would be helpful to include the exact answer that you submitted, so we can double check it for any other errors or confirm if you did have it right.


I think this answer is similar to the last item in this group. my answer La niña no puede encontrar sus lápices was accepted. However given as another correct answer was "La niña no encuentra sus lápices". is this latter just idiomatic spanish where literal "does not find" is translated "can not find"


why is no pueden encontrar wrong


Los estudiantes no pueden encontrar sus bolígrafos. was accepted 3/4/2019


It wasn't for me :(


For me as well on 01/29/20.


shouldn't the spanish sentence be "los estudiantes no pueden encontrar sus bolígrafos"?... otherwise the translation should be "the students don't find their pens"


"Los estudiantes no pueden encontrar sus boliografos." is accepted but with the comment that I have a typo. Can you point out the "typo?"


Sure...it's bolígrafos. You've got an extra 'o' in there!


September 11 2019 Today Duo accepted "no pueden encontrar". Amazing!


Why "sus" and not "tus".


Because it is "their" pens.

"Tus" always means "your." And only when talking to one person.

"Sus" can mean his, her, your, or their.


I was taught to say "pluma" for a pen, not "bolígrafo". Sure, that was in the 20th century.


Did you try it? I think you would be correct technically but using a term that may archaic and possibly depricated to some extent given its earliest reference was probably to the writing quill (feather plume). https://www.spanishdict.com/translate/pluma


When I was in the Yucatan in Mexico, I tried "boligrafo" and was misunderstood. I switched to "pluma" and was understood.

P.S., another difference is "cabello-pelo". And, in Mexico, "Bus" is "camion." (At least in some places.)

Remember, Duo is teaching Latin American Spanish, and it seems to me to be largely Mexican. After all, the U.S. has a large number of Mexicans who need/want to improve their English.

By way, many hears ago when I took French, "pen" was "pluma".

P.S., what is meant by a "fabricated" word?

New words are constantly being incorporated into languages. Are some of the new words "fabricated", and others "not fabricated"?


It's odd that you would say that. When I was in Quintana Roo (Playa del Carmen) I had zero issue with boligrafo. However, when searching for a "cauderno pequeño" in an attempt to describe a pocket-sized notebook, I was politely informed the term for that was "libreto".


Why is this wrong: "Los estudiantes no se encuentran sus boligrafos"?


Se is a reflexive pronoun, meaning it refers back to the subject. I think you've basically said, "The students can't find themselves their pens".


Why not "los estudiantes no los encuentran sus boligrafos" . Why not los uncuentran


Spanish does "double up" with INDIRECT pronouns and the noun in the same sentence: "Le dije a Juanita" means "I told Juanita." Both the pronoun "le" and the noun "Juanita" are indirect objects and it's OK to have both.

The same rule does not apply to DIRECT object pronouns. You use either the noun or the pronoun. Not both. Check out https://www.spanishdict.com/guide/indirect-object-pronoun-placement. SpanishD¡ct has other articles that explain this subject in greater detail.


Could anyone pelase tell me why, "Los estudiantes no puedes encontrar sus bolígrafos" was wrong? Thx!


"Puedes" is the tú form. "Los estudiantes" needs third person plural (pueden).

But be aware that "poder" is not used very often in Spanish in this context. They're more likely to say "no encuentran." The "can't" is implied.


Thanks! Didn't catch that mistake!


Why was the pueden dropped in this reply? Very confused!!!!!!


It wasn't dropped. Translation is not an easy, word-for-word proposition. (Unfortunately for all of us!) As you may have seen by reading the discussion, this is a hot topic.

In this case, one could say "No pueden encontrar," but it is cleaner to just say "No encuentran."

"No encuentran" -- depending on context -- could mean "can't find" or "don't find."

Los estudiantes no encuentran sus bolígrafos = The students can't find their pens.

Ellos no encuentran la película graciosa. = They don't find the movie funny.

Ellos no encuentran tiempo para ejercicio. = EITHER: they can't or don't find the time for exercise.

So something that we -- in English -- have to distinguish as separate ideas (can't and don't), in the context of this verb, is captured in one verb. Interesting.....


Can you say los bolígrafos instead of sus bolígrafos, like you can for body parts?


No. In my experience in Duolandia, only body parts use definite articles:

lávate las manos = wash your hands

traigo mi bolígrafo = I'm bringing my pen.

However, the owl is inconsistent with the word "salud." In some sentences, Duo translates "la salud" as "your health" and in others it uses possessive pronouns with "salud." I've not done further research to see if Duo is following an inconsistency in usage IRL or if this is just Duo glitch.


The students don't find their pens.


Remember: the goal of translation is to end up with sentences in both languages that get the same message across with the same tone. While "The students don't find their pens" is grammatically correct, it isn't as common or natural sounding as "can't find." Moreover, depending on context, Spanish can look at the same verb and see "don't/can't" as the same idea.


2/1/2021 Duo did not accept Los estudiantes no pueden encuentrar sus bolígrafos.


The word you want is encontrar, not encuentrar. (It's a stem-changing verb.)


Because "encuentrar" is not a word. It's "encontrar." It's stem-changing verb.


Los estudiantes no pueden - must be correct? The question was the student CANNOT find...


Why isn't this sentence accepted?


the translation in duo is eliminating puedan/pueden. But then it should have been: the students dont find ...

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