Actually "something is broken" is and should be the correct answer. There is nothing in English like (something broken) without any "to be" verb connecting the adjective to the subject before it.
Another translation for شيء مكسور could be: a broken thing. The Arabic sentence would accepts both translations but it depends on the whole context to decide which English translation to use. But here, there is no context but a simple phrase, and both English sentences should be accepted (but not "something broken").
Is it really possible in English to say (something broken) without connecting the subject and the predicate here with some form of the verb (to be)?
(a broken thing) is more proper translation for this "phrase" in Arabic since شيء is (a thing) and مكسور is a verbal adjective meaning (broken). So, a proper translation for the Arabic phrase here is "a broken thing" actually and not "something broken" as stated above. I'm not a native English speaker but seems to me that "something broken" is missing the verb to connect the adjective (predicate) to its subject.
On the other hand, let's suppose that I want to state (something is broken) I might state that in Arabic as هناك شيءٌ مكسور - (there is something broken) maybe you know by now that nominal sentences in Arabic do not start with an indefinite noun, so we use the "pointing" particle (there) in such sentences - though the translation might change according to the translator and the understanding or context of the sentence. Usually some sentences like (a thing is broken) would be forced into be defined as in (the thing is broken) in Arabic.
- There's no problem in English with the phrase "something broken" (eg, "I found something broken/black/dirty in the street", not much different from "I found a broken/black/dirty thing in the street"). But "something broken", just like "a broken thing" is only a phrase, not a sentence. "Broken" in this case is being used attributively; if there were a copula - something is broken - then it would be a sentence, since it has a verb (is), and the predicate would be "is broken".
- If I understand you correctly, the answer to my second question is that شيء مكسور is not ambiguous; it is a phrase. And to turn it into a sentence you'd have to add هناك . Thank you. It seems strange odd, though, that Arabic would tend to "force" a sentence like "something is broken" into "the thing is broken", since the meaning is not the same. It made me wonder how Arabic would render, eg, a description of a scene in a play, "a woman wanders across the scene". You couldn't say "the woman wanders..." because she hasn't been mentioned before. But I think you've explained that you'd precede it with هناك. Is that right?
Notice that in (1), you made a meaning for the compound (something broken) by putting it into some context, not by its own. This is exactly the same with Arabic on many occasions; The context dictates the meaning on many occasions.
As for (2), typically Arabic would force the sentence (if to be nominal) to start with a definite noun. However, again, this depends on the context as well. In your example of (a woman...etc) I would translate that with (hunáka هناك) in the beginning to point to some random woman. However, notice that the idea of defining a noun is different between English and Arabic. Maybe the two agree upon the fact that a noun which is previously mentioned or known by the speaker and the receiver would be defined, but there are other instances where the two don't agree. Like my classical example (posted about it elsewhere on Duolingo), when someone says: I love Nature. Supposedly, in English, Nature here comes undefined because it speaks of a general aspect. Some people argued that it can come defined, and they gave out example to me. However, in their examples, they did indeed define (nature) forgetting that they were pointing to some specific nature at some specific place. In Arabic, such sentence of general meaning, the noun would come defined. To clarify it more, consider the example:
- A man should not gamble
I believe such sentence is valid in English and it has a general attitude or adage (and even the word "man" I suppose can be generalized to both genders anyway). Now, notice the Arabic:
- على الرَّجُلِ ألّا يُقامِر (3alá ar-rajuli allá yuqámir). Literally: THE man should not gamble.
I don't want to go and explain every part of the sentence but I want to pick the important part for me here: الرجل (ar-rajul: the man).
As you can see, when translating that sentence into Arabic, (man) was forced to be defined in Arabic, specially that it talks about a general aspect. So, the definite article in the two languages do not work the same and the context, in both, would be the factor to judge.
- I don't think it's the context that gives it the meaning. "Something broken" is a phrase, not a complete sentence, whatever the context. And am I right in thinking that the same applies to شيء مكسور ? They each only become sentences if you add "is" to the English or هناك to the Arabic.
- I agree with everything you say in 2.
KatieC993112: Well, شيء مكسور in Arabic is simply a noun+adjective. Literal translation: a thing/broken. It's not a sentence and not sure if I can call it a phrase (I guess it is?). Anyway, maybe if someone asked me (what is this/that?) I would answer with this. To make it a sentence, I would add هذا (this) or هناك (there) and the like just to complete the sentence and the translation, then, would be this is a broken thing or there is a broken thing (or even there is something broken if this sounds more natural).
I don't know where to ask a question about Hearts, so I'll do it here. I usually do Duolingo on my computer, but occasionally on my phone. I don't understand how hearts work. Today I started with five hearts, and when I made a mistake, the whole thing froze and I couldn't continue. Is this a bug, or does losing one heart stop you continuing with the lesson? Why have five hearts to begin with, if having four means you can't continue?
Unfortunately, I don't know how it works on phone.
The only thing about heart for me (on PC) is when I try to "jump" a level in some skill instead of doing exercises several times to finish a level in some skill (i click the Key button). It gives me 3 hearts, by the 4th mistake it takes me out and tell me that I failed passing the level. So, I can do exercises normally and raise up in the level until i finish 5 levels under a skill - or I can finish a level quickly by doing the "jump a level" by clicking on the key button - not sure how it works with the phone app
How kind of you to reply to my cry for help. But I'm perplexed. You say "It gives me 3 hearts", but I've never come across a heart on the computer. But perhaps your three hearts are not in Arabic, and there are no hearts for Arabic? Although, when I come to think of it, I don't try to skip anything. I need all the practice I can get (and even then I forget things!). But it's very frustrating to be stopped in my tracks on the phone just because I've only got four hearts left. At least you say it tells you you failed passing the level. On my phone it doesn't tell me anything; just freezes.
Yeah I'm not sure how it works on phone or tablet really.
The hearts I'm talking about only appear when you click on the key-button. I suppose this is found in all language courses here on Duolingo. When you click on a Skill, you get TIPS and START (to start regular exercising) and in the corner of that box there should be a KEY button ... by clicking that you will be guided and told that you are skipping a level - so you do a set of exercises just once and given 3 hearts that show on the top near the progress bar. For each mistake a heart is taken down until you make the 4th mistake, then it announces that you failed passing the level.
Oh! I'd never noticed the key! I did as you said, just now, and, while at level 3 of the chapter I'm on, I clicked the key, and it said something about jumping to the next level, and they won't make it easy... So if you do that, they show you three hearts? But that's different from the phone, where you're given five hearts without involving skipping any levels. Oh, I hope someone can shed light on this. But I do appreciate you telling me what you know, TJ.