https://www.duolingo.com/chris731330

Frustrated with being penalized for Duolingo’s translations.

Hi Everyone; I’m really getting sick of my answers being marked wrong for a persnickety reason. I do learn from my mistakes, and am happy to learn the nuances of French language skills, but some of the translations are ridiculous. Example: “J’aime bien lorsqu’on peut dejuner tot.” I translate as “I like it when we are able to eat lunch early.” No No, says Duo: “I like it when we CAN eat lunch early.” Come on. “Elle est aussi belle que sa mere.” Me: “she is as pretty as her mother”. NO! “She is as beautiful as her mother.” Really. I get the diff between “Belle” and “Joli,”. But seriously? frustrating.... One more: “Il me faut un citron, sinon une orange”. Me: “I need a lemon, otherwise an orange.” Duo: “I need a lemon, or else an orange.” Is it ME that is being persnickety? Thanks for reading....

September 17, 2018

96 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/AnnieMod

Duolingo works based on pre-saved sentences. Which means that unless someone thought to add a certain translation or someone reported it so it can be added, it is not there. It is a restriction of the way Duo teaches (the good old translation method) - and you need to work inside of the framework by clicking "my translation should have been accepted" when you think so or by posting in the Discussion thread for the sentence itself. If the course creators agree, it will be added. If they do not and/or people do not and you post in the Discussion, they would explain why not.

As for pretty/beautiful and can/be able - they are not exactly the same and sometimes the difference between the two of them in a different language is much bigger than in English. This is where the sentence discussions come into play - there are a lot of hidden explanations out there.

So yes, it can be annoying sometimes but there are cases where NOT considering those "annoying" ends up teaching you something about your new language. There is nothing more dangerous than a new language learner - you still do not know just how much you do not know.

September 17, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Lrtward

AnnieMod has great advice. The only thing I'd add is that the sentence discussions are good for asking questions when you have a doubt, such as "I thought 'She is as pretty as her mother' would work but Duolingo marked it wrong. Does anyone know why?" That way you can make sure that you are right, or find out why you are wrong.

The sentence discussions are NOT a good place to report correct answers that are missing. The course creators don't see all those comments in all those discussions, so they just pile up doing nothing but filling the discussion. We moderators spend a significant amount of time deleting comments that are really suggestions for additional correct answers.

Sometimes the "Report" button doesn't allow you to report what you need to. In that case, you can submit a bug report (https://support.duolingo.com/hc/en-us/articles/204728264-How-do-I-report-a-bug-)

September 17, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/AnnieMod

The sentence discussions are NOT a good place to report correct answers that are missing.

That's good to know :) Although if someone just keeps clicking on "it needs to be accepted" and never gets feedback, they will just grow more and more frustrated. Posting on the discussion allows them to get feedback on why it is not the case. Plus the next person that thought the same can find the reasoning. I can see that having a legitimate answer there is not a good idea but if you do not know the language, it is not that easy to know if you were indeed correct or if you are missing a nuance somewhere :)

PS: And yes, just starting a discussion works as well although if it is an important difference between the languages, it kinda makes sense to be in the sentence discussion (and it will mean that it does not come up every 2 days). :)

September 17, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/chris731330

I totally agree; and I do mark the appropriate report. I did not know that the system works on pre-saved sentences and translations. That’s good to know; thanks for taking the time to respond...

September 17, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/jrikhal

by clicking "my translation should have been accepted" when you think so

Please, do it only if you're absolutely sure it's correct, not if you think it is!

More than 99% of the reports are reporting wrong answers and it's likely mainly due to users reporting what they think is correct instead of things they are sure to be correct.(°)
If volunteers received mainly reports of really correct answers, all the process of improving and correcting the courses would go far faster. Instead, volunteers spent most of their time treating wrong or non-sense reports. :(

by clicking "my translation should have been accepted" when you think so or by posting in the Discussion thread for the sentence itself

Post in the discussions if you have a question (not to report answers you're sure to be true).


In short :

  • you're sure your rejected answer is correct (no missing/wrong accent, is part of it, for instance)
    => don't post in the associated discussion, only report it
  • if you have a question about the exercise, which includes case where you think your answer should be accepted
    => don't report it, ask your question in the associated discussion (note: asking a question, not making an affirmation "blablabal should be accepted")
    aaaaaaaaa if you think your answer should be accepted, feel free to ask "why my answer {share a screenshot, don't rewrite the answer(°°)} has been rejected?". Other users will answer and, in case it was indeed correct, someone who will read the discussion in the future when having the same answer refused will be able to report it that time.

(°) Yes, Duo's wording "My answer should be accepted" is not helping as it can be interpreted as "despite its mistakes, my answer should be accepted).

(°°) a screenshot because it'll contain your answer exactly as written. While when someone rewrite it (or even copy-paste it) they can add/remove mistakes without noticing (or miss a letter at beginning or end when copy-pasting).
That way there will be no doubt that the rejected answer was not shared exactly as answered. Plus, in case of bug, it'd help to detect them.

September 20, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/northernguy

Here is the problem with your post.

Duo has revisited many of its examples since I last reviewed the French lesson tree. Whoever is reprogramming the answers is imposing his personal speech style onto the only accepted answers.

Eg: Je connais des filles bien.

Here is the only accepted answer. I know good girls.

The answer...I know some good girls. is marked wrong. I notice now that many if not all the questions that have de/des included are now being marked incorrect if some is included in the English answer. In the last few weeks while reviewing the tree, every instance of de/des has been penalized if some is included in the English translation. Others have commented on the change.

Personally, I don't care. I have already completed the tree long ago and I simply run through the tree again every once in a while.

But some of the students on this tree are not native English speakers. Your programmer is teaching them to speak English poorly and also telling them not to translate words that are actually in the French sentence because the programmer thinks his personal style of speaking is what everyone should do.

It is futile to report such issues in the manner you suggest because if the report is actually looked at it will be by the programmer who made the decision in the first place. And we already know he thinks his manner of speech is the only correct one.

The only solution is for moderators such as yourself who visit the comments periodically, to take notice when dozens and dozens are pointing to a systemic pattern of errors in Duo grading. Moderators are in a position to communicate to someone to have that pattern looked at and an explanation of why it is being continued can be put forward if that is the review decision.

I know some good girls. is perfectly good English. In addition it translates the words in the sentence. Furthermore, it reinforces the fact of greater need for the inclusion of indefinite articles in French. Whoever is doing the current programming in the French tree is wrong on all three points. Just like he is wrong on all the other examples where does the same thing.

September 21, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/jrikhal

Your programmer is teaching them

I have no programmer. I'm not a Duo employee...
But I'd love to have one looking fully dedicated to look into technical bugs and request of new features contributors' reported/asked for the incubator in order to be able to do an even better and more efficient job.

programmer is teaching them to speak English poorly and also telling them not to translate words that are actually in the French sentence because the programmer thinks his personal style of speaking is what everyone should do.

No, Duo programmers are not in charge of linguistic contents (=of what is accepted).
Volunteers are for trees managed by volunteers (FR<-EN Tree 3, for instance) and staff/internal-workers are for trees managed internally (FR<-EN Tree 4 and following, for example).

It is futile to report such issues in the manner you suggest because if the report is actually looked at it will be by the programmer who made the decision in the first place.

No, it'll be looked at by the person in charge of linguistic content (which are not programmers). And such persons didn't necessarily refused things to force anything, they can just have forgot one possibility.. or several.

See your own example and Sitesurf's message about it! As you see, it's not futile at all: programmers don't read reports (nor discussions), contributors do!

If everyone reports the rejected absolutely correct answers and no one report wrong answers (or answers they just think to be correct, there would be 90% less reports (95%+ incorrect ones less + some % more for correct ones reported instead of mentioned in discussions) and the correction would go incredibly faster!

Moderators are in a position to communicate to someone to have that pattern looked at and an explanation of why it is being continued can be put forward if that is the review decision.

No, moderators don't have this power.
Contributors, on the other hand could try to communicate with someone at Duo and hope to be given an explanation, but it's futile, useless and inefficient because:

  • either it's about an exercise that is in the Tree they have access to, then they can edit themselves. No need to try to contact staff/internal workers to do who and even less because staff/internal workers would not do it: they don't touch to the linguistic content of trees they're not in charge of.
    And no need to double the work of contributors by having half of the reports send as they should and the other half in discussions. Sending all via the report system is the most efficient way.
  • or it's about an exercise that is not in the Tree they have access to (but in a tree controlled by staff/internal workers), then they cannot communicate with said team. They can try to communicate about it with Duo staff (general one), but it has proved itself to lead to things being amended.
    And mentioning the issue in the discussion is futile, useless as Duo and internal don't read exercise-discussions (AFAIK), so in this second case of an exercise that is in the internal-Tree, the message in the discussion will just pile up for nothing and make almost invisible valid linguistic questions that some learners have.

So, again, "reporting" in discussion is at best inefficient and at worst useless.

The only solution is for moderators such as yourself who visit the comments periodically

Not at all.
People like Sitesurf or myself, are contributors (=dealing with the linguistic content of the courses) and moderators (=ensuring the forums are a safe environment/place).

Contributors can (slowly) see all reports -- we'd do faster if only and more correct things were reported, as explained --- due to the tools we have in the incubator but contributors definitively cannot follow the dozens of thousands of discussions. So if mentioned in discussions an error will most likely not be seen. While reports will one day be seen.

to take notice when dozens and dozens are pointing to a systemic pattern of errors in Duo grading.

If those were instead dozens and dozens of reports for each cases, it'd be spotted faster!


EDIT:

Oh, and I almost forgot

to take notice when dozens and dozens are pointing to a systemic pattern of errors in Duo grading

The dozens and dozens are most of the times at "less-worse" answers to a first one --- saying "I agree" or similar --- or, worse, are independent comments repeating the same thing.
This is not only futile, it also clutters the discussion and make almost invisible valid questions.

If a contributor end up in a discussion, they only need to read one such comment (not dozens and dozens) and such comment would be on top (so first seen) if everyone would just upvote the first mention of it instead of posting a reply or, worse, their own independent comment.

September 22, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Sitesurf

Northernguy, I just corrected the sentence "Je connais des filles bien". Be aware that the Tree3 was written by 4 volunteers, of which 2 Americans, 1 Brit and myself. We may not be aware of all missing translations because we cannot follow all sentences and we can't read all user reports. Next time you have an issue like this, please post your question on any sentence discussion thread below any of our posts. Thank you.

September 22, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Cecile418225

Mais oui, je sais bien combien je ne sais pas! I find the discussions really valuable; they give me insights into the quirks of the language.

September 17, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/JamesTPhillips

How rigid are these "pre-saved sentences"? I have to say, from my own experience, DuoLingo tends to be quite flexible in accepting translation variations and I've always gotten the impression that it applies a dictionary of word and phrase alternatives to every part of a sentence. For example, a contraction like "don't" is always accepted as an alternative to "do not." So they wouldn't have to pre-save separate sentences to account for contractions, they'd just look up "do not" in the dictionary and see that "don't" is also acceptable. Same thing for present tense verbs - I can't imagine they've saved both "I am eating" and "I eat" as separate translations, they just connect the two in the dictionary. But the dictionary is bound to be incomplete and inaccurate in places. I certainly see examples from time to time.

By the way, TinyCards only accepts "if not" as a translation for "sinon," as if it weren't already complicated enough. Neither platform is perfect.

September 18, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/jaye16

Yes, we try to be as consistent as we can but of course, we make errors and forget to include "I'm" along with I am etc. If you have a correct translation that is not accepted it might be one that we simply did not think of and we are happy to add it. Just having a "dictionary of vocabulary" doesn't really work. Each word has to be correct within the context it is being taught.

September 21, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/chris731330

Good question about the rigidity, and I find it fairly inconsistent. Some excercises I get marked wrong (and lose a “life”) because of one letter, i.e., Moman, instead of Maman, other times, one letter off doesn’t seem to matter...

September 18, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/JimFive

A little insight on misspelling/typos. You get one mistake per word, but if your misspelling forms a different word you will get marked wrong.

September 18, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/SitaV.

It's good to let your frustrations out! I do think it's hard to not roll ones' eyes when an incorrect answer seems a bit nitpicky. (I'm always a little exasperated when I translate símpatico as kind and it's marked incorrect.) However, Duolingo is a free resource that relies on it's users and volunteers to keep it as accurate as possible. I hope you report your answers as correct so that someone can revise it and continue to improve the DL experience.

Take heart that you are understanding and improving! It's clear that you are a dedicated user and have made great strides!

September 17, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/chris731330

Thanks for taking the time to reply; vous etes sympa! Lol

September 17, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Sitesurf

Hi Chris. For your kind information:

1) Here are the translations we registered in the database for "J'aime bien lorsqu'on peut déjeuner tôt", 3 months ago (with no change since):

  • I like it [when/whenever] we [may/can/are able to] [have/eat] lunch early.

The only report I found with "we are able to" also had an error at the beginning of the sentence (I really like it).

2) The difference - in French - between "belle" and "jolie" has been explained on related threads thousands of times in the past 6 years, together with discussions about a similar difference in intensity between "beautiful" and "pretty/lovely".

3) "Otherwise" was not on the list of accepted translations, so I added it and cleared the reports (you should receive an email). There are now 80 variants registered in the system for this sentence.

All three sentences belong in the Conjunction2 skill, where over 10,000 user reports have piled up. You may want to calculate how many hours and volunteers would be necessary to clear all user reports on the whole course.

September 18, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Thomas.Heiss

@Sitesurf

Hello,

as I wrote here https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/28907178$comment_id=28912393 Chris is assigned the first (old) stable French tree.

Manchmal versuche ich ein bisschen quer (Französisch + Spanisch) in den Foren mitzulesen und zu verstehen was genau abgeht ;)

I wonder how these user reports and your 3) accepted alternative of "otherwise" effect the stable (first) vs the French 3.0 A/B (second) different trees.

Here are the translations we registered in the database for .... 3 months ago - with no change since

I had seen your contributors team French 3.0 A/B announcement thread https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/26726755/The-new-French-tree-is-here-under-A-B-test five months ago (and btw I got the newer / second tree but I am a bit afraid to start it now because of my required PT->DE reverse tree / Memrise / Mondly progress with Portuguese).

I wonder if this applies (only) to the old stable (first) tree as this sentence seems to be contained in Chris' first French tree and how changes/fixes (user reports) are handled for both trees incl. the second tree in parallel or if fixes are only corrected for the second A/B tree and does not apply to the first tree?!?

Do you have to "enhance" it two times when you go through user reports (either from the first or second tree) in the Incubator in two different databases or is it just one "sentence database" and applies to both trees simultaneously?

I can imagine that not ALL skills, words and sentences are shared between both different tree versions.

..(...)..

Sorry for not knowing it any better yet...

But as I am an IT guy and I love to understand how this Incubator word/sentence thing works in the background for multiple tree versions.

Your phrasing of "3 months ago - with no change since" triggered me to finally write this as I know about the second A/B tree (which I could start any time) ;)

Danke dass Ihr Euch im Team so viel Arbeit für uns macht!

Best regards / Viele Grüße

September 18, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Sitesurf

Hello Thomas,
Merci pour vos aimables paroles.

You are an IT guy and I am a grammar geek, so I am not sure I can shed much light on the technological side of things.

Anyway, Chris is actually lucky, because he has taken the best French course ever. The volunteer team rewrote the previous one (called Tree2), yet not entirely, and we are still working on it every day. This is our Tree3, which was given 5 months ago to a part of the then current user base, and to new users as well.

More recently a new set of in-house course versions have been produced for new users and we have no access to the Incubator. As a consequence, there is no change, correction or addition that can be done by the volunteer team.

September 18, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/jrikhal

But as I am an IT guy and I love to understand how this Incubator word/sentence thing works in the background for multiple tree versions.

Sentences have one unique list of accepted answers (entered manually). Then each sentences can be used/associated to this or that tree version.

So a sentence that is in two versions (exactly the same sentence defined by its sequence of characters, punctuation, spaces, capitalization, etc. dependent), will accept the exact same answers in both tree (since it's only one unique entry in the DB).
Now, with a new tree (especially if deeply reorganized, like the Duo-internal new tree, which last one is Tree version 7(°)), there can come new sentences --- because new word introduced, because this word is introduced sooner than in the previous version so you need new sentences, etc. --- and they will be only in the new tree (except if the team controlling the previous version decide then to manually add it to the older version too).

This also implies that if someone adds an error to the list of accepted answers (or, even worse, change what is defined as the best answer) to an long-time existing sentence --- let say accepting "homme joli" for example, to re-use an example given in other comment --- from any tree version, then the error will be in all tree version that do use this sentence...

Finally, about seeing what tree version one has: I'm not absolutely sure that Duo shares (on users' profile or in duo.me, which are the same at then end) about an account being under an internal tree. It'd need to know an account who is for sure under an internal tree and to check what is shared.
They share about volunteers' tree version you're on but not sure that someone under an internal-tree would not appear has being under the last volunteers-tree they were onto (somehow similar to the fact that volunteers can see any other volunteers-trees but none of the internal ones, in the incubator).


(°)

  • Tree 3 (and previous) is controlled (were controlled) by volunteers
  • Tree 4, 6 and 7 --- there has been no 5 tested... --- are controlled by Duo-internal workers.
September 20, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/chris731330

What is the difference between. “J’aime,” and “J’aime bien.”?

September 18, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Sitesurf

J'aime + a thing = I like
J'aime + people = I love
J'aime bien + thing/people/action (verb) = I like

I really like = j'aime beaucoup.

September 19, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/chris731330

Thanks for the clarification; still confused about “J’aime bien.”

September 20, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Sitesurf

"Bien" is not an enhancer with "aimer", but a softener meant to confirm that the feeling is not love.

September 21, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/piguy3

together with discussions about a similar difference in intensity between "beautiful" and "pretty/lovely"

Do I read this to imply that you think "pretty" and "lovely" are descriptors of the same degree but meaningfully lower on the scale of beauty than "beautiful"? (This is my understanding of the comment not just based on how you phrased it here but translations I have observed in the tree, although it's so unintuitive I'm far from sure I've got it right.)

I don't see how this can be the case. Just consider the Oxford dictionary definition of "lovely": "Very beautiful or attractive." i.e. "lovely" is more beautiful than "beautiful"; it's "very beautiful"

Meanwhile "beautiful" is defined as the comparatively ho-hum "Pleasing the senses or mind aesthetically."

I get jolie vs. belle. I get pretty vs. beautiful. But the treatment of "lovely" leaves me scratching my head, and at least sometimes it's used as a suggested translation, so it's not merely a matter of secondary translations one can conceivably blissfully avoid at all times.

September 22, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/NeahOlson

That's actually pretty frustrating. I deal with the same thing, though I'm only on basic French right now.

September 17, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/KarenLynn11

I have also experienced this in the French course, while the Italian one is so much more accepting of synonyms, different word order, and other variations that do not change the meaning of the sentence. It's one of the reasons French has been driving me nuts with frustration lately (while Italian on the other hand has gotten a lot of love).

I totally feel your pain.

September 18, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/chris731330

Lol; thanks for the reply...I should have done Italian!

September 18, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/KarenLynn11

It's never too late! And you get a lot of 'free' vocabulary due to similarities with French. ;)

September 18, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Thomas.Heiss

I would have expected that you are enrolled into the latest (third) French tree from staff or you are on the very old / stabile (first) French tree.

But no, you are on the French 3.0 A/B tree from contributors....

I would have expected that those sentences have been reported and fixed earlier but I know that the backlog queue of user reports probably is quite huge.

Have you at least reported your sentences and chosen the option "My answer shall be accepted as an alternative answer"?

September 18, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/chris731330

Yeah, I’ve reported them, and you’re probably right about the backlog; I wasn’t aware of how this service works, as a contributor above listed. I don’t see the suggestion “my answer...”. I only get “my answer was correct.” Not trying to make a big deal about this, after all, it’s free, just frustrating sometimes, because I know from my experience in France, the French people really couldn’t care about the picky-ness. Thanks for taking the time to reply....

September 18, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Giovanna-Louise

Chris ..Already many people answered here, but still...if you do not mind.. I experience the same issue in my French and Russian courses and sometimes in Italian course too.. All the good reasons and how to deal with it have already been described by the users above and I agree with them.. Though i also agree with your feelings about it..It CAN be very frustrating and wasteful..

In my case ,I am fully fluent in both English and Russian (graduated with a degree in Russian language many years ago AND live in an English speaking country..)) and even in this case Duo dutifully crosses out my slight variations on acceptable translations..I just laugh it off and move on..sometimes i report it.. Same happens in my French course where I also have a background knowledge and i studied French before Duo.. .. What do I do? I simply take a deep breath..take a good look at what Duo likes to see ..memorize it..and next time give it what it wants..report that translation should have been accepted ..and move on..after all..it builds your character..:-)) Cheers:-))

September 18, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Ivor810183

Couldn't agree more! It's the same for us all Chris. The program isn't infallible, but the frustration leads to the discussion forum and there's so much more to be learnt here. Have fun with it ;-)

September 18, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Giovanna-Louise

Thank you so much for your answer to my comment, I appreciate it !! :-)

September 18, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/chris731330

Great comments, both, and thanks for the taking the time to reply. I’m grateful for this course, I’ve learned so much, and it’s really the reason I can go to Paris and effectively communicate with shop keepers and such (that, and a good dictionary app!), and in this case, My frustration has led to all kinds of great, thoughtful responses, so that’s worth it. Thanks again....

September 18, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/blihcrb

SOMEONE PLEASE GIVE THIS PERSON AN AWARD FOR BEING SO AWESOME AND KIND AND LOGICAL!!!!!!! GIVING YOU A LINGOT DUDE! <3333

September 19, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/chris731330

You guys are too kind! I’m just grateful to have this forum to toss things around. And also greatful to have Duo in the first place!

September 20, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/chris731330

Bach atcha!

September 20, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Giovanna-Louise

hey..here is one for you,for being so supportive ,and I agree @Chris has been outstanding in his tact and patience, in his responses to just about everyone here.. Best wishes!

September 19, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Giovanna-Louise

thank you as well..:-))

September 19, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Snowdriftwjc

I fully agree with your comments.

September 19, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Deodso

Je fais de l'anglais et de l'allemand. Autant je n'ai pas de problème avec les traductions françaises pour les cours d'allemand, autant mes cheveux se dressent sur la tête ( = je suis horrifiée) par certaines traductions pourles cours d'anglais : "Tu veux quoi ?" qui est du français très familier et oral, au lieu de "Que veux-tu ?" ou "Qu'est-ce que tu veux ?", ainsi que la place de l'adverbe qui doit suivre le verbe "ex :"j'achète souvent le journal " au lieu de "j'achète le journal souvent". Hier pour une phrase il fallait traduire "a pretty man" par "un homme joli" ce qui ne se dit pas en français on dit un "bel homme". Bon courage ! je mets souvent des remarques sur leurs traductions mais sans retour.

September 18, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/jrikhal

je mets souvent des remarques sur leurs traductions mais sans retour.

  • If you speak about reporting the error during the exercise, it's great and it'll be corrected as soon as possible by
    • the volunteers working on the course, in case Duo is giving you the Tree controlled by them;
    • Duo staff/internal team, in case Duo is giving you the Tree they control themselves (and don't give access to to the volunteers).
  • If you speak about leaving a remark on the discussion --- which is meant for learners to help each others ---, then it's the wrong place to do so, those discussions are not meant for that and up to now
    • if Duo is giving you the Tree controlled by the volunteers, then they may one day end up on your comment but they'll almost always end up first on the report. So mentioning it in discussions is just cluttering said discussion for nothing.
    • if Duo is giving you the Tree they control, it's unlikely they'll ever read it as AFAIK, they don't read those discussions (because it's meant for users to help each others, not to report anything to the person taking care of the course).

P.S. : Je réponds en anglais car ceci est un forum pour anglophones (apprenant le français).

September 20, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Charlie531761

To be honest, I've just had to disregard this entire scoring system of rewards and penalties. For example, I use this site several hours a day, but I'm constantly being told that I'm on a losing streak, and penalized. Often I have to choose between giving a wrong answer (not really wrong, but Duolingo says it's wrong) and giving an accurate answer (according to French usage and grammar). What kind of system tells you that you are losing, even though it's obvious that you are learning more and more every day? What kind of motivator is that? I'm here to learn, not accumulate lingots.

September 18, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Thomas.Heiss

@Charlie531761

Hi Charlie,

I am seeing that you are a new registered Duolingo user (~3 months old account).

but I'm constantly being told that I'm on a losing streak, and penalized
What kind of system tells you that you are losing, even though it's obvious that you are learning more and more every day? What kind of motivator is that?

I checked your duome.eu profile:

  • Daily Goal: 50 XP

This is IMHO your real problem.
If you use the web portal try the Basic 1XP coach goal setting.
It best works with "timed practice" (e.g 3-6 questions answered correctly = 3-6XP = streak saved).

Alternatively to this, you can also test the 10XP coach goal if you use the app or both mixed.

It does not mean that you are not allowed to do many more 150-500XP++ per day once you have saved your streak with 1XP/10XP!!

September 18, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Charlie531761

Thanks very much for taking the time to explain this to me!

September 18, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Charlie531761

This argument shouldn't even be happening. A beginner's course in a foreign language should not contain so many grammatical and usage-related nuances that are open to interpretation, and which conflict with knowledge that the student has already been presented with. Students should be rewarded for mastering material that has been presented for study. Too often. Duolingo French serves up ambiguity early in the course. For the beginner, "can" and "is able to" are close enough in meaning with each other that there should be no need to introduce this complexity to the student until basic meanings have been established in the student's head.

September 19, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Giovanna-Louise

Agree with your comment..

September 19, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/MaryAnne993219

I think you would learn more if you were not so resistant to corrections.

September 17, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/chris731330

Your reply is unfortunate and uncalled for. I am maintaining a 489 day streak, and you have no clue about my being “resistant to corrections.” You’re telling me that there is a big difference between “Can” and “able to.”? I think not.

September 18, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/MaryAnne993219

You spelled "déjeuner" wrong in your rant. If you did that in your exercise, Duo would mark the sentence wrong and perhaps not give an accurate explanation as to why.

September 18, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/chris731330

Not true; if you mean I didn’t include the accent over the “e” duo NEVER marks that wrong; it just gives me a message to take note. My point is, the inconsistancy of the system; some exercises will allow spelling mistakes, others won’t. But, because of all of the constructive replies, I now know, it is, indeed hit or miss, based on the number of people working on the particular language...

September 18, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/MaryAnne993219

There are three e's in "déjeuner."

September 18, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/chris731330

My entire point is that Duo is inconsistent in what it marks “wrong” and what it marks “right”. I could spell it Dejohner and have it passed through with a reminder, other times it marks the entire exercise wrong.

September 20, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Snowdriftwjc

Yes, I agree.

September 19, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/LICA98

yeah especially in the French course they tend to be extremely picky about the answers... for example they don't accept kids for children wtf? every other course I've done accepts kids and children interchangeably

September 17, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Ivor810183

Sorry to throw a spanner in the works! But in French "the kids" = "les gamins" or "les gosses"...

September 17, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/LICA98

in French would it be acceptable to ask a stranger "avez-vous des gamins/gosses"?

while in English it's totally fine to ask "do you have kids"

September 18, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Sitesurf

Yes, it would be inappropriate to ask someone "avez-vous des gamins/gosses ?"

September 18, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/MaryAnne993219

It is exactly why the two are not interchangable. The word "children" carries a lot of respect and reverence while the word "kids" is playful and casual. If you way, "this kid ..." there is no reverence; you think maybe a problem is about to be reported in some cases, but that would depend on the tone.

September 19, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/MaryAnne993219

Graymalkin .... Answer here. No room below. I am not saying "kid" is inappropriate, although I was taught that in grade school. I think "kid" is casual and for some carries less respect.

The words "man" and "guy" have similar meanings but most people would not write "all guys are created equal" or "a giant step for guykind."

But what I am mostly saying is that I would translate "enfant" as "child" and I would not complain about having the word "kid" marked incorrect. (Editted from original for better language and to correct my spelling.)

September 19, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Graymalkin71

"This child..." could be just as icy as "this kid...", but that is migrating away from the original point of the post. Are you suggesting that it is wholly inappropriate to ask someone "Do you have kids?" in place of "Do you have children?" Because if the answer is no, then LICA is right, on the original topic.

September 19, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Deodso

En langage familier on peut dire " avez-vous des gamins ?". Par contre on emploie gosse en ajoutant sale "un sale gosse", qui n'est pas "a dirty kid" but a "rude kid".

September 19, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Deodso

Sitesurf. I have very happy that "to be on the side, go for the more formal speech" I hope that you do this to the French language ( no more : Tu veux quoi ? les enfants jouent ?...)

September 22, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Sitesurf

@Deodso: I hear you. However, you have been given the latest version of the French course, which was restructured and rewritten (at least for the first units) by the staff at Duolingo. As a consequence, the current volunteer team does not have any control over the content you are given.

September 24, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/piguy3

But informally-structured questions are not solely the province of the newest tree version, no? e.g

September 24, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Deodso

Sitesurf : It is pity that you have written "As a consequence, the current volunteer team does not have any control over the content you are given."

September 24, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/LICA98

that's exactly why kids should be accepted for enfants

September 18, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Sitesurf

There are 2 ways for Duolingo to teach that "gamins/gosses" are not interchangeable with "enfants":

1) Reject "kids";
2) Let Mods answer the question on the forums.

In your opinion, which way will better ensure that thousands of learners are aware of the rule?

September 19, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Sitesurf

"Gamin(e)(s)" is taught in Family (Tree3). "Gosse(s)" is not because it has another meaning in Quebec.

There are currently 6 sentences using any form of "Gamin(e)(s)".

All of them are duly translated with "kid(s)", and "kid(s)" is duly translated to "gamin(e)(s)" in reverse translations, where "enfant(s)" is rejected.

On the SD forums, we (Mods) and other advanced learners explain to learners (doing Tree3 or Tree2) the difference between "enfants/children" and "gamins/kids" whenever "why aren't kids accepted?" is asked.

Users not reading the related SDs, including those doing Tree2 (where "gamin" is not taught) should still understand the rule after a few rejections and corrections. Is it not Duo's philosophy (trial and error) for absolutely everything we are learning?

Generally speaking, if learners don't read SDs, too bad for them because this is where the beef is. But many of them use other resources, including dictionaries, where they can check that Duo's French has been standard French (so far).

September 19, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/LICA98

ok that kinda makes sense but that still doesn't remove the problem

from what I've seen the explanations are mostly like "just like in English there's a difference in register between children and kids there's a difference between enfants and gamins"

but the problem is that in English the difference is minimal but in French it seems to be quite big

All of them are duly translated with "kid(s)", and "kid(s)" is duly translated to "gamin(e)(s)" in reverse translations, where "enfant(s)" is rejected.

so for example for "do you have kids?" you would force the "inappropriate" "avez-vous des gamins?" rather than taking the neutral "avez-vous des enfants"?

the best solution would be translating like this:
enfants=children/kids
gamins=kids

just as you take "mom" for "mère" even tho "maman" exists

September 19, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Sitesurf

I would not write the sentence you suggest for the reason it would be misleading to teach something inappropriate.

For "mother/mère" and "father/père" vs "mom/maman" and "dad/papa" respectively, we also are careful not to mislead learners, in particular because if "possessive + mom/dad" is acceptable in English, "mon papa/ma maman" are reserved for small children and would really sound childish from an adult's mouth.

September 19, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Graymalkin71

Gotta say I agree with LICA here. "Kids" is perhaps slightly less formal than "children", but just because that is so doesn't mean we have to insist there is only one correct translation. The distinction in English is meaningless.

September 19, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/piguy3

Looking at the usage stats, "children" is roughly 10 times as common as "kids" in published English works. "enfants," meanwhile is roughly 100 times as common as "gamins" in published French works (with "gosses" about the same). That means to yield natural French from natural English, you'd translate "kids" to "enfants" the vast majority of the time (since "gamins" and "gosses" are comparatively so rare in French), and you'd translate "enfants" to "kids" about 1 in 10 times. Of course, "gamins" and "gosses" would always be "kids" (of the two choices we're considering here).

By equating "gamins" so rigorously to "kids," the implication arises that its usages is simply equivalent to that of "kids," which isn't the case, as has been shown already on politeness grounds and as I've shown on usage frequency grounds.

September 22, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Sitesurf

@piguy3: Beyond the numbers you may compare, the message here, with "kids" not accepted for "enfants" and vice-versa is "to be on the safe side, go for the more formal speech".

September 22, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/chris731330

I get your point, LICA98, but (to be even MORE persnickety, Lol), you’re talking about a noun, and I can see the diff between “kids” and “children”. Kind of like saying “chair” and “stool” or something...they’re totally similar, but I was talking more about the diff between “can” and “able to,” where I REALLY go...WTF? Anyway, thanks for taking the time to post....

September 18, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Eric_423711781

It is happening to me too, I wish they give a bit more choices in its questions, and I bet the dou+ is the same

September 19, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/blihcrb

Same dude! The way that they word the english responses are very frustrating. In vietnamese "Tôi sẽ ăn cam" means "I'm going to eat an orange" but duolingo won't take the LOGICAL answer and instead says that its "wrong" and should be "I will eat an orange" when in reality, if someone were to ask you "what're you going to eat for lunch?" if you were to say "I will eat an orange" it sounds un-natural. PLEASE DUOLINGO FIX THIS

September 19, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Deodso

My only advice are that you have to accept the wrong translations but don't write it in your logbook ! Snif, snif I have just lost three of my logbooks in a "Supermarché" today.

September 18, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Honeybatz

Example: “J’aime bien lorsqu’on peut dejuner tot.”

"peut (can)" in this case is a modal verb giving a permission to eat early and not a modal phrase (verb+ adjective+ infinitive) as in your example in which you are using "be" verb, "able" adjective, "to" infinitive, giving the possibility of eating early.

Although it is not incorrect to translate "pouvoir" as "able to" the context of the sentence is important. In this case it is giving permission to eat lunch early.

September 18, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/chris731330

Thanks for taking the time to reply, Honeybatz; a very clear, articulate explanation, and I greatly appreciate it. I’m not totally convinced, however, that the intent of the sentence is to ask permission. Is this a French idiom, or are there other clues? I read the phrase as two friends talking and one saying “I’m really glad when we are able to eat lunch early....because I have a full schedule in the afternoons...blah blah...”. can you explain what in the sentence indicates the verb being used as a permission? Thanks again for the reply....

September 18, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Honeybatz

Thanks Chris

I read it that the verb (pouvoir) had been conjugated in the present tense making it something that has been agreed to or permission given for now, in this case have lunch early, this may only account for this one occasion, I don't know.

Using "are able to" is possible but would be rather formal English not something I (as a native English speaker) would probably say.

I hope that helps. Grammar is a hugely complex and confusing subject even for natives :)

September 19, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Harry665002

Lol, one comment, and we get tons of replies, these including monitors.

September 19, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Deodso

"peut" ne signifie pas la permission mais la possibilité. ex. On peut déjeuner tôt car le restaurant d'entreprise ouvre dès 11h15.

September 19, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Honeybatz

In english I would actually translate this as 'We are able to lunch early because the restaurant of the enterprise is open from 11h15.' the lunching early is conditional on the restaurant being open early.

Alternatively, 'We can lunch early' Can here is a statement of permission and doesn't need the restaurant to be open early or at all.

September 19, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Snowdriftwjc

Honeybatz, I admire your language knowledge. I have been reading the replies to this thread hoping to see something that explains my uneasiness about the suggestion that 'can' and 'be able to' are the same. I will never have your degree of understanding of the formalities but I keep thinking of the definite difference between 'can I' and 'may I.' Is there a link between the two pairs of words?

September 19, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Honeybatz

Snowdriftwjc

Thank you for your comments, however even as a native I have problems understanding some of the more in depth grammatical issues in my own language.

Your question sits in a grey area of grammar where the usage of the terms has changed over time to a point where they are used interchangeably

However, saying that, I have always defined them as follows:

"May I" is more polite than "Can I" and is generally used for situations of: courtesy, formality and making requests of superiors.

e.g.

'May I have a drink of water, please?' - is a polite way of asking for something from/of someone you don't know very well i.e. your friends parents

"Can I have a drink of water, please?" - is less formal and is used when asking something from/of someone you know i.e. a friend

September 19, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/CassyBaker

Persnickety, definitely. Spanish Duo is a bit like that too.

September 18, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/PhilologistMi-Mi

I understand your 'can' vs. 'able to' frustration. Those definitely seem interchangeable to me. But pretty and beautiful are different, and while I would sometimes use them interchangeably in English, there are also times when I would differentiate between the two. Therefore, if French also has two words for those concepts, then I think the distinction should be upheld. And for your last example, I think Duo is entirely right. Their sentence is correct, yours sounds...wrong. If someone said 'I need a lemon, otherwise an orange', I would either assume they were not a native speaker, or didn't really understand the use of the word 'otherwise'. (Or if I knew both of those things to be untrue, I would probably respond snarkily with: '...otherwise an orange will what!?')

I do agree that sometimes having to stick to Duo's translations exactly is frustrating, because when I feel like I'm actually understanding the language, sometimes the meaning of the sentence is best expressed by a phrase or sentence in English that is not an exact translation, but carries more of the meaning behind the original. Whenever I have those marked wrong, I sigh, make a mental note that Duo is teaching me to translate rather than to understand and that I have therefore surpassed some aspects of the course, and then move on. There are so many more important things in life to stress over. Just take a deep breath, acknowledge the system's limitations, and move on. :)

September 19, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Snowdriftwjc

I agree. I try not to criticise Duo as I understand its barriers, however, today my phrase 'the date of today' was rejected for 'the date today'. I had to think about that one as I'd only been teaching English for 35 years. I obviously missed something. My poor ex students......

September 20, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Mopsy12

I am an Australian English speaker. I think the correct expression is Today’s Date.

September 20, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/PhilologistMi-Mi

Haha! I'm sure your students are fine. ;) That is interesting, though... I think I would say 'the date today' or 'today's date' as Mopsy12 suggests, but I can't think of a sentence or context in which I would use 'the date of today'. Is that normal spoken English for you?

September 20, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Eric_423711781

at lest it allows spelling mistake in English when learning french

September 19, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Mopsy12

I agree entirely.

September 20, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Suzanne343318

I have the same problem, sometimes compounded by the difference between American and English conventions. But I think we will have to grin and bear it, as the task of putting in all possible right answers would be well nigh impossible for those who write the sentences for us.

September 20, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Lessie783377

I am not nearly this far along with the language, however my husband takes issue with the way the Ce, C'est, Ce sont are used in the learning. He lived in France for 5 years and is very fluent. He keeps arguing that these terms would not be used the way that Duolingo is using them. I don't have an example at the moment but it's frustrating because I can't get through that lesson. For now, I've skipped it and moved on.

September 21, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Evanoxaga

je connais!!

September 21, 2018
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