List of Problem Sentences in the Chinese Course (please contribute)

I've started a list, below, of sentences in the Chinese-from-English course where the displayed or accepted English is wrong, or the displayed or accepted Chinese is wrong. Please feel free to contribute in the comments. I don't know how effective this will be, but maybe the Chinese team will see it and make corrections. I don't practice Chinese on Duolingo very often anymore, so I'm relying on your help.

For this list, I'm only interested in what's displayed or accepted incorrectly, not what's not accepted but should be. What I'm looking for, and will add to the list:

  • sentences where the English in the displayed example translation is wrong;
  • sentences where incorrect English is accepted;
  • sentences where the Chinese in the displayed example is wrong;
  • sentences where incorrect Chinese is accepted.

What I'm not looking for, and will not add to the list (report these to Duolingo):

  • sentences where the English in the displayed example is correct, but a correct alternative is not accepted;
  • sentences where the Chinese in the displayed example is correct, but a correct alternative is not accepted.

I don't know how many sentences this list will apply to. Maybe only a handful. I'm starting with one single problematic entry. (Edit: The list is slowly building.)

I'll assess the English in any examples submitted here. As for the Chinese, my own Chinese proficiency is far from native, so for any Chinese correction that is more than pointing out a simple typo, you'll probably have to be a native Chinese speaker for me to accept your contribution, or a native speaker will have to agree with your comment. (Unless I know you already, please mention it in your comment if you're a native speaker.)

Please also feel free to mention if a sentence has been corrected, and I'll amend the list.

The List

  1. "我们买一瓶美国白酒送给她吧!"
    Provided: "Let's buy a bottle of American white wine to give to her!"
    Suggested: "我们买一瓶美国白葡萄酒送给她吧!"
    *This one is really a Chinese usage problem. "白酒", or "baijiu" in English, is a distilled alcoholic beverage made usually from sorghum, whereas "白葡萄酒", or "white wine", is an undistilled alcoholic beverage made usually from light-colored grapes. It would be better for Duo not to perpetuate the confusion by applying the word "白酒" to white wine.
  2. "我的护照在那儿?"
    Provided: "Where is my passport?"
    Suggested: "我的护照在儿?"
    This one is an obvious typo. "Where" is "哪儿", not "那儿".
  3. "我每天开会,非常累!"
    Provided: "I have meetings every day. Very tired!"
    Suggested: "I have meetings every day. How tiring!"
    Some alternatives: "I'm so tired"; "I'm extremely tired"; "It's extremely tiring". It's ambiguous as to whether the Chinese is describing the situation ("tiring") or the person ("tired"). If the latter, the subject would usually be restated in English.
  4. "我会去旅游,你可以帮我照顾我的狗吗?"
    Provided: "I will go travelling. Can you help take care of my dog?"
    Suggested: "I will be going travelling. Can you take care of my dog for me?"
    Often "帮" is better translated as "for" rather than "help" (reference). This is one of those times. One person will be doing it for the other, who will not be participating. An alternative is "help me by taking care of my dog". (My suggestion for the first part of the sentence makes it a little more natural.)
  5. "我参加了跑步比赛,我的腿很疼。"
    Provided: "I participated in a running race. My legs are painful."
    Suggested: "I participated in a running race. My legs are sore."
    "Painful" describes something that causes pain (like an experience). "Sore" is describes the part of the body where the pain is felt.
  6. "I participated in a running race. My legs are painful."
    Provided: "我参加了跑步比赛,我的腿很疼。"
    Suggested: "I participated in a running race. My legs are sore."
    This is just the reverse exercise of the above, with the same problem.

Previously on the list, now corrected:

  1. "你想买短裙子还是长裙子?"
    Provided: "Do you want to buy short dress or long dress?"
    Suggested: "Do you want to buy a short skirt or a long skirt?"
    The articles are mandatory, or the nouns must be pluralized. The translation to "skirt" instead of "dress" is suggested as somewhat more accurate.
  2. "他吃完饭会马上刷牙。"
    Provided: "After finishing eating, he will immediately brush teeth."
    Suggested: "When he is finished eating, he will immediately brush his teeth."
    As it's most likely that he'll be brushing his own teeth, and not just teeth in general, "brush teeth" is very unlikely and should be replaced. "After finishing eating" is a bit awkward but it's acceptable.

Updated: 2018-11-24

November 8, 2018


I agree with you.

November 8, 2018

I am a Chinese native speaker by born. I noticed this discussion and clicked to join in. Glad to help.

November 10, 2018

Thanks, everyone, for your support so far, and thanks in advance to any future supporters and contributors.

November 14, 2018

To space between certain sections, indent twice. You should also include the valid forum code, such as quote or code, to neaten the look of the report.


Translation provided:

I am only just looking.

Suggested translation (Generic):

I am just looking.


Even though some people will find the English translation fine, "only just" would sound a bit confusing to the translator or listener.

November 18, 2018

Thanks for the suggestion. I think I want to keep the list more compact than that, and easier to scroll through, but I've made some changes to improve its readability.

November 18, 2018

Thanks for this (here are 2 lingots). Hope more people will join. Maybe this post should be made a sticky?

November 12, 2018

Thank you. It wouldn't hurt to make it a sticky, I think, but I would feel a little presumptuous to request it.

November 14, 2018

For Report #2, you suggest

After he finishes eating, he will immediately brush his teeth.

Since the context is not clearly given there, the Chinese sentence can have different possible tenses. Thus, few more possibilities are:

  • After the meal/meals, he brushed his teeth.
  • After finished eating, he brushes/brushed his teeth. [This sentence can have different possible tenses.]
  • After he is done eating, he brushes his teeth.

Here, tense-identifiers, like 了 and 過, are usually negligible, depending on how you interpret the tenses given.

The first clause, containing "finishing eating", would be less proper than "finished eating".

Credential: Fluent (Native-like) in Chinese and high familiarity with "neighbor" languages, such as Taiwanese and Cantonese. In fact, Chinese Mandarin and Taiwanese are my family languages.

November 14, 2018

"after finished eating" is not grammatical in my dialect of English at least; "after finishing eating" would be the correct form

November 14, 2018

Yes, that can be true. I am making notes of what else can be possible, instead of focusing only on direct translation. :)

November 14, 2018

I've changed my suggestion to "when he is finished eating", as I don't think "after" is strongly indicated (even if it can be thought of as implied). However, "when he finishes eating" and a number of other ways of phrasing it (as you note) would be acceptable.

In any event, it's the "brush teeth" that's the real problem.

November 14, 2018

Hey, progress! Two sentences have now been corrected.

November 18, 2018

I am going to add more comments to the third report in the main post updated on November 18, 2018 since both sentences are in fact generic.




I have meetings every day. Very tired!


I have meetings every day. How tiring!

My Notes

  • Following PeaceJoy's suggestion, it is possible that the second clause connected with the comma describes 我. In this case, readers are more likely to read the sentence as

I have meetings every day... I'm very tired.

which offers the expression of a speaker/writer.

  • Despite the accuracy of translation, the given Chinese sentence lacks some touch of mood and feeling, which sounds as if the reader/speaker expresses it either neutrally or without some meaning. The reason why I said this is that 我每天开会,非常累 does not include some particles and/or conjunctions. Simplicity may be the best way to be efficient in constructing better sentences. However, taking shortcuts is not always the case to become the better sentence-creator. If I were to revise/edit the sentences here, I would suggest

Chinese #1:



  • 因為 positioned in the first clause serves as the purpose for 所以-clause. This is one of the grammatical structures that involves cause-and-effect.
  • Following the previous note, my sentence suggests 非常累 as the cause and 每天開會 as the effect. To understand this, think of the following:

每天開會 causes 我 to be 非常累

But another Chinese alternative can also be...

Chinese #2:


November 18, 2018
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