Is the German sentence accurate? Do we not need a "gehen" or "kommen" for the main verb?
No, it's fine without a main verb. It's very common to omit the main verb after certain modals.
Here are some examples:
Ich kann Italienisch.
Ich soll dahin.
Wir müssen zurück.
... and, presumably, the famous "Hier stehe ich, ich kann nicht anders", with an implied "tun".
You should include this in the lessons. I can't recall from any lesson where this omission is mentioned.
If one can drop the verb, how is one supposed to know which verb to use? I tried "come" instead of "go" and it was not accepted. To me it makes as much sense to come back as to go back the same way. So, the question is: Why is only go allowed in the translation here?
What is wrong with "We can return the same way"? "go back" versus "return"?
I'm shocked no one has brought up the preposition "auf" which seems to have no real reason for being here. Anyway, after looking long and hard for a logical translation of this sentence, I've found that zurückgehen is an actual verb which means "to go back."
Knowing that along with what christian MOD said below, that it is common to omit the main verb after certain modals, the sentence makes complete sense in a colloquial way.
I think a literal translation, because of "auf," though, would be "We can go back on the same way."
I put in: We can go back the same way. Which is the correct DUO answer, but I did not expect it to be correct, because it isn't. I was just lucky, because I know how DUO rolls. The German sentence is wrong for a start, thats why the translation is wrong too. The German sentence must be at least include a verb, in this case it could be "gehen" or "fahren" etc. = Wir koennen auf die gleiche Weise zurueckfahren. :-) Knowing now how DUO rolls, they "steel" sentences from random texts and try to translate them as good as they can, but fail sometimes miserably! Here in this case it started with picking a sentence in lazy German dropping the verb. Shame on you DUO, I will report it! Cheers from a native German speaker. :-)
It's not wrong at all. In spoken German, it's very common to drop the main verb.
Well, in spoken German you say....,but you don't want to teach that in early language lessons don't you?, As I said above it is lazy German, that should be taught at later stages of the course. I recommend not to learn and bear this in mind, shortcuts can be taken when you are proficient in the language IMHO. Cheers Harald
It's completely fine in standard German to use a modal verb as a full verb and leave out the infinitive. It's true that this is mainly used in spoken German but I wouldn't even consider it to be colloquial. It's perfectly fine to use even in very formal contexts. Nothing lazy about this. http://canoo.net/services/OnlineGrammar/Wort/Verb/VollHilfModal/Modalverb.html
Wow! Don't question this, my point is that a student learning this lesson has the pain to guess what DUO ment to be correct here and it could be the translation for: zurueck - gehen, fahren, fliegen, kommen, kehren, etc. my student didn't know what to choose, because it isn't given in the German sentence, of course this is a sentence which can be understood from the context of a conversation for instance, but not if it stands alone, and this is the problem here. I can't tell my student how to translate this sentence correctly, because it has about 20 different options which are not all in the pool of correct answers in DUO. My student said he tried some and got them all wrong, he is confused. I explained it to him, so I am fine with that, and your explenations. Still IMHO, training text should be designed to have a, or as many possible solutions as there are, (which it lacks here), or have enough clues to make a qualified decision. Guessing is not the way how to learn science or languages!
That's a very different point than claiming the German sentence to be wrong, though.
Hi backtoschool. Many Thanks for your detailed explanations. It takes time to explain things, and I for one am grateful. I am going to ---- you a Lingot! (oops, I dropped the verb)
I think it also depends from which language you are translating it, officially that is English of course, But English is my second language and in Dutch this sentence makes sense
Nothing in the article at the above link indicates that the terminal verb dropping is standard and not a potentially ambiguous or a badly presumptuous shortcut.
Every German native speaker would wait for the person to finish or complete the sentence when he/she hears someone saying: "Wir können auf die gleiche Weise zurück."
and would probably do a funny face when the speaker leaves it like this. Just my opinion, - I would. Exemption the previous context has clearly given only one option how. :-)
I cannot reply below, so I do it here on: "...how and why does a dropped gehen imply gehen?
Well it does not as you have endless options to get there as you have mentioned in your comment, but every situation is different in regarding the context and so the expected language/expression.
You may say: "Ich will zur Bushaltestelle" and can be used on its own and can be correct in the situation when you ask for the way as in: "Koennen Sie mir bitte helfen, ich will so schnell wie moeglich zur naechsten Bushaltestelle." (kommen, gelangen, gehen, maybe fahren when you are on the bicycle)
And here we go the way might be different when you are on the bicycle because a local would tell you the use the bicylce path which can be completely different from the footpath. Could even take longer or might be forbidden.
So the answer is: it is not implied when "gehen" is dropped that the speaker means "gehen", on the other hand it would be likely when you are a pedestrian and situation allows.
Ha Ha. But again: "Ich will zur Bushaltestelle" can just mean:
I want to "go" to the bus stop no matter how, when and why.
Always think twice.
I got to this discussion from t"Ich will zur Bushaltestelle" which is being defended as correct and standard complete sentence. I am perplexed how "gehen" is redundant and can be dropped.
There are many obvious things to want to __ to a bus stop, besides simply "go" to it. I may want to run to it, or bring a forgotten bag to it for someone, return to it, come to it, drive to it, crawl to it, drag my feet to it, absolutely dash to it like my life depended on it,....the list is endless. How and why does a dropped gehen imply gehen?
I agree it is a bad sentence to use, not because it is frequent or colloquial, but because it is ambiguous (kommen ? gehen?) which may be unhelpful [ vague synapses~references ] when one needs to learn by translating with no situation frame. /as is the rule with duolingo way of teaching/