Translation:The horses didn't go to the office this morning.
How could the office function without a Secretariat?*
*Secretariat was an American Thoroughbred racehorse who, in 1973, became the first Triple Crown winner in 25 years. His record-breaking victory in the Belmont Stakes, which he won by 31 lengths, is widely regarded as one of the greatest races in history.
Hence, the play on words: secretary/Secretariat.
Fair question. Answer: This lesson is focusing on grammar more than on vocabulary. Other lessons focus more on vocabulary than grammar.
Spanish has more tenses than English does. Here we're learning how to form and use the Preterite (pretérito perfecto simple).
This tense is used to express:
An action that was done in the past: This use expresses an action that is viewed as a completed event. It is often accompanied by adverbial expressions of time, such as ayer, anteayer, or la semana pasada.
Ayer, encontré la flor que tú me diste = "Yesterday, I found the flower that you gave me"
An action that interrupts another action: This expresses an event that happened (and was completed) while another action was taking place.
Tomábamos la cena cuando entró Eduardo = "We were having dinner when Eduardo came in." ["Tomábamos" is in a different past tense.]
A general truth: This expresses a past relationship that is viewed as finished.
Las Filipinas fueron parte del Imperio Español = "The Philippines were part of the Spanish Empire"
EDIT: I updated the name of this tense from pretérito indefinido to pretérito perfecto simple, thanks to StanislawS. The other perfecto Spanish tenses are compound, i.e., use some form of haber as a helper followed by the past participle of the main verb, but the "simple" in pretérito perfecto simple indicates no helper is required.
Hola Doctor. Hoy en día la Real Academia Española en vez de "pretérito indefinido" usa "pretérito perfecto simple". Creo que es lógico - este tiempo del pasado es muy "definido" :-) - como lo dices : ayer, anteayer, la semana pasada, el 12 de febrero.... (En francés ese tiempo se llama "passé simple") . Un saludo. Stanis.
Duolingo only teaches a small subset of vocabulary. There are other ways to learn new words. If you are interested in farm terminology or other vocabulary, I recommend Merriam-Webster's Spanish-English Visual Dictionary or other dictionary apps:
Page 243 Granja: barn (granero), etc.
fence = cerca