Well that's one of the things that most Duo users may never learn to say in Spanish. There are actually quite a few of these cases on Duo where a common Spanish word has a less common specialized use. That's common in all languages. But to allow all of them in answers where there is no reason to assume a specialized context would absolutely break Duo. Only a Spanish speaking auto mechanic would ever look at this sentence and assume that meaning. Those specialized words REQUIRE specialized context.
I do think of words like that a lot, though. I have a reasonably large Spanish vocabulary for my level. But my vocabulary is probably not as large as a 9 year old native speaker. With all the cognates of Latinate words in English about science, philosophy, the social sciences, etc, I certainly know words that nine year old doesn't, which means there are lots of simple nine year old words I don't. They are all over the place in mundane words that everyone know but don't actually use much.
I have read that this rule was deprecated in 1959 by RAE (http://www.studyspanish.com/lessons/demonstratives.htm). Is Duo out of date, or have I got the wrong end of the stick?
Recently this rule was changed. NO ACCENT http://www.rae.es/consultas/el-adverbio-solo-y-los-pronombres-demostrativos-sin-tilde
That answer is incomplete. Esto as a singular is only a pronoun. But estos like este, esta, and estas can be either demonstrative adjectives or pronouns. Esto singular is used to refer to abstract things that cannot be tied to a gendered noun. It is therefore often called neutral or neuter. But estos is the plural or either esto or este, and as a pronoun is more likely to be masculine.
According to the /Diccionario panhispánico de dudas/ of the Real Academia (s.v. Tilde(2), section 3.2.1, http://lema.rae.es/dpd/?key=tilde), the demonstratives should never take accents except if there is ambiguity between a pronominal interpretation and another interpretation; in that case forms with pronominal function should be accented. The example they give is ¿Por qué compraron aquéllos libros usados? where aquéllos is the subject of the sentence (meaning "Why did those people buy used books?") as opposed to ¿Por qué compraron aquellos libros usados? (meaning "Why did they buy those used books?"). Having said that, I'm pretty sure I was taught at school in Chile to accent demonstratives with pronominal function.
I was a Spanish major in college and was taught that while the accents are technically correct in this situation, they have fallen out of normal use and are no longer needed. Unless I am misremembering something, I don't think they are required at all. Interesting - I need to do some research, I guess.
Can someone explain the difference between these sentences, por favour?
Sentence 1- Estas cartas son personales
Sentence 2- Estos son mis gatos
I can't figure out why the first word in both sentences means 'these', yet they are spelt differently. I have had trouble with things like this every time I get this far in studying Spanish.
Thanks in advance.
In the singular you would never use eso or esto like this. But the plural of both este and esto is estos, so you will see estos with plural masculine nouns. In fact there are very few times when you would have a plural neuter pronoun, so estos as neuter is much less common
Exactly, except that you included the obsolete form. That was Duo's error, and you naturally copied it. You are correct that demonstrative pronoun should agree in gender and number to what it represents. Without context, Duo is really only able to demonstrate this for the pronoun (as opposed to the adjective) when you have a predicate noun as we have here, but the same principle applies when you are using demonstrative pronouns to represent any gendered noun.
The archaic form is using the accent. It was dropped by the RAE some time ago. It hasn't really been as one thinks of when hearing the word archaic, and you will see it used in older publications. I just didn't know how else to describe something that used to be used but is no longer used. So the modern forms are estos and estas, not éstos and éstas.
Well there are two issues here. The minor one is that, despite the fact that Duo is having you translate a sentence in the older style with the accent over the É, that practice is no longer approved by the Spanish Academy, so you probably shouldn't actually be using it. I don't know why this is in this exercise at all. Perhaps they just wanted you to be aware that you might see it in older writings.
But the important issue here is gender agreement. The demonstrative pronoun must agree in gender and number with what they represent. And what are these? These are mis gatos, which is masculine plural. The masculine plural form of the demonstrative pronoun this in Spanish is estos. Estos son mis gatos. If the cats were both female, the sentence would be Estas son mis gatas.
It's just an older system that was changed by the Royal Academy. The tilde used to differenciate between the pronouns and the demonstrative adjective. Although it isn't used officially, people don't always adapt to these dictated changes, so you will still see it. Duo is just showing you both ways, but certainly doesn't require the accent or even mention if you leave it off.