i said we had coffee with breakfast. with, at, for , Without using word bank I get tripped up on this kind of thing a lot. Should I say it this way? Or should I say what I think Duo wants me to say? Increasingly I find myself not trying to understand the meaning and type an English equivalent, but battling in my mind with what the I perceive the owl as wanting me to say.
All of the newer exercises will take more time to be fleshed out with a wider range of acceptable translations. So, it's impossible to say what Duo will eventually accept as valid.
That said, some prepositions and prepositional phrases seem to translate more readily between particular Spanish and English expressions. It's good to be able to recognize them even if you personally would say it a little differently. As just an example, if the intent was to say "coffee with breakfast," the closest Spanish phrase would use con and not en. Obviously, either would communicate the same idea and both are perfectly understandable. But one is a closer translation than the other.
Many people are frustrated by Duo's tendency to reject reasonable translations that either change the sentence structure or alter the phrasing, while preserving the meaning. If you find yourself in that camp, I'd suggest sticking to what you think is closest rather than what ostensibly means the same, but takes more creative license.
If you try something that you think is perfectly good and Duo disagrees, you can always flag yours as correct and wait for it to be added. Indeed, those of you who are more fluent can help the rest of us by submitting alternative translations. I also find the comments to be invaluable for understanding why Duo rejected something that I thought was perfectly fine. In the end, I guess it all depends on your tolerance for pain (or gain?).
I tried "with" and was told the correct answer is "at" breakfast. I understood the sentence to be saying that coffee was being drunk at the same time that breakfast was being eaten, so the word "with" would be correct here in English. Would "con desayuno" really convey a different meaning?
It would convey a different meaning in Spanish the same way that "at" and "with" also convey a different meaning in English.
When using "with" you are saying you did it (drank coffee) alongside something (breakfast) but it is not really an integral part of it.
When using "at" you are indicating that it occurred as an integral part of the event.
I disagree with your characterization of at meaning it was an integral part of the meal. I would say it's almost the opposite. To me it's talking about when you drank coffee, the rest of the breakfast may be irrelevant. Instead of saying at some time, which you may not know exactly, at breakfast becomes a way to mark when. To make it an integral part of the meal, you'd use for, although you'd have to mention a food to not have the assumption that all you had was coffee.
It may help to know that one of the rules about using the definite article in Spanish is that it must be used before meals (desayuno, almuerzo, cena) if you aren't already using another determiner like este, nuestro, etc. So the presence of the definite article before a meal doesn't mean the same thing in Spanish as in English. This is similar to how the definite article must be used with days of the week.
While it's often the case that meals or mealtimes are introduced with an article or determiner, there's no "rule" that requires it. The rules for definite articles are about using them to identify specific or generalized cases of the associated noun. The reason there is almost always a definite article with a meal(time) when no other determiner is present is because it's almost always a specific meal(time) or a statement about one in general. For example:
- ¿qué hay de almuerzo? = what's for lunch?
- este hotel sirve desayuno = this hotel serves breakfast
- hay un espectáculo con cena = there's a show with dinner
Now, you could include the definite article with any of the above examples. That would emphasize the fact that a specific meal was being discussed. The point is that it's still grammatical without the definite article.
Well, live and learn. I was quite convinced (wrongly) that it was a "rule". However, after some internet searching what I did learn was that the website that told me it was a rule was wrong, and you are right DavidMoore. Good to know. In the process I also learned that the rule about using the definite article with days of the week isn't quite a rule either, or at least that the rule also includes not using the definite article with days of the week when they come after the verb 'ser'. For example, hoy es martes.
Thanks for enlightening me. Have a lingot too.
The same is true for all the meals. El almuerzo, the lunch, almorzar to eat lunch (Yo almuerzo - I eat lunch). La cena, the dinner, cenar to eat dinner (ella cena - She eats dinner). In the early lessons Duo had lots of examples of comer with one of the meal words. That's not incorrect, and did help teach those words. But as a practical matter you'll hear the meal verbs alone most commonly rather than the meal nouns and the verb comer.
I don't think it is. I've never noticed any mention of a mid-morning "brunch"-like meal. People pop into cafes, bars and cafeterias for snacks and beverages in between meals, but "tapas" seems like the only non-meal time wide recognized. It more or less coincides with "happy hour" in the US, though much later, of course.