My 2¢ Worth About Acceptable Typos

Having Level 25'd my way through French and Spanish, and now working on Italian (getting those Romance Languages under my belt, don't you know), I would like to suggest that Duolingo set more stringent standards for allowing typos on misspellings of words in the target language.

I have noticed time and time again that the Giant Red X of Infamy is more likely to pop up on misspelled English words than it is on misspelled words in the target language. Yes, the typo is identified but the learner gets a free pass and is not required to repeat the exercise and type in the correct spelling. And that is where the real learning takes place.

In conclusion, as much as I like to keep getting the green light, as it were, on these slight misspellings, I would actually prefer to be forced to repeat the exercise until I get it right.

Thank you for your kind attention.

–End of Rant–

August 14, 2018


I agree in principle with the idea that a typo is a mistake, and should be sanctioned, yet in a less serious way than a wrong verb, or a wrong construction, etc.

However, mistyping a word out of haste or distraction is indeed more venial than mispelling it thinking that it is correctly spelt.
Moreover, some typos are unlikely to cause a misunderstanding (e.g. vdere instead of vedere is clearly understandable all the same), while others may easily raise doubts (e.g. cedere instead of vedere completely alters the meaning of the word).

I think that Duolingo's database filters mistakes by marking as wrong all mispelt words that mean something different (→ more likely to cause a misundertanding), such as cedere in my example, or wrong articles, adjectives or verbs with a wrong inflection, etc., whereas words that do not exist in the database (→ less likely to cause a misunderstanding) are held to be typos, and do not trigger Duolingo's 'red card'.

August 14, 2018

The "acceptable typos" were all previously reported by early users, and the admins in charge added them to the database if they personally agreed with the report.

It has caused some unforeseen problems, however.
When they allowed people to type the number 6 instead of spelling it out "sei", then the system universally applied it to all instances.
So if I wanted to answer "You are nice", I could type in 6 simpatico (Sei simpatico) and it would be accepted!

I think it also applies to parts of longer words, so instead of typing "treno", in theory I could type "3no". (I haven't tested this assumption-- perhaps I will now)

August 14, 2018

I think typo acceptance is entirely up to Duolingo's algorithms, not contributor choices, and that largely the same goes for automatic text-number replacement.

August 15, 2018

in theory I could type "3no"

This would make Italian sentences similar to rebuses that the reader must solve. :-D
I remember having objected to the use of text message abbreviations, such as '1' for uno, or '6' for sei, already over one year ago.

August 15, 2018

Yeah, they should make the acceptance of digits for numbers an opt-in thing in the incubator. Contributors would select it for sentences only when there's actually a number. It would put an end to so many people befuddled (and angry about) "suggested" translations, particularly with "1" showing up in bizarre places.

Then if we could just get them to do something about inappropriate contractions: "I want a car like you've" and whatnot.

August 15, 2018

I understand the sentiment, but disagree that it seriously impedes learning. Having laboriously reached 25 in Italian (Spanish next, but only after I've truly maxed out the Italian experience), getting credit for a typo (which sometimes happens even when you've used the wrong verb form) is still a learning experience if one takes the time to examine the mistake. On the other hand, it is frustrating to get dinged over transposed vowels or the inadvertent omission of a double consonant. I find DL to be a delight in all respects, and highly addictive. I have to force myself to stop "playing."

If you take your time, look at the results, consult the discussion, and persevere, you will learn. As you so obviously have.

August 15, 2018

[deactivated user]

    I don't have a solution but I agree many times I feel like Duolingo is aimed more at correcting my sloppy typing in English than teaching me my target language. It's been something that's irked me ever since I started using Duolingo years ago.

    That said, I don't mind the courses being a bit generous with typos in the user's target language. One thing I've learned over the years with studying multiple languages is muscle memory when typing is a big deal, and you literally have to give yourself time to learn how to type in different languages. I don't think beating users over the head for typos in their target language that are likely due to muscle memory from typing in their native language is a particularly good approach, because this is one area where some people will adapt more quickly than others.

    August 14, 2018

    I don't know if it is relevant, but I am also making the tree portughese - italian, and when I should write: Tu sei... I wrote: Tu ė... of course incorrect. The correct answer was pointed as: Tu 6.... It took me a while to get the mistake I made, specially because I did not get to the numbers yet. So, I think that not all shortcuts are obvious to all students.

    August 16, 2018
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