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  5. "Iedereen luistert terwijl de…

"Iedereen luistert terwijl de man met zijn vrouw spreekt."

Translation:Everyone listens while the man speaks to his wife.

July 20, 2014



Couldn't this also mean:

Everyone listens while the man with his wife speaks.


I interpreted it in a similar way, too, the first time.

"Everyone listens while the man with his wife is speaking" was marked wrong, but it is good English.

The subject is "the man with his wife." In context, it might mean that in a room full of men, the one man who brought his wife is speaking and everyone is listening. We see so many odd sentences here; this would just be another one.

However, I (obviously) don't know enough Dutch to know if that is really a correct translation or not.

Also, the Duolingo translation makes perfectly good sense, reinforces the concept about shifting verbs following a subordinating conjunction and is a far more likely situation. People are so nosy. :)


I suspect it could technically mean that, but that would be an odd phrase in English (even if technically correct), and the "correct" translation is more appropriate for what the Dutch sentence almost certainly means. So in a sense, marking the very unlikely (but possible) translation as correct would be, in a sense, the poorer learning experience.

I say this, having just been marked incorrect for the same translation.


You are absolutely right. Interestingly, as a native German speaker I also misunderstood this sentence initially since in the context of translating to English I tend to think in terms of English word order. But if I think of it in terms of translating to German, it becomes totally plain what is meant and that the meaning that involves "the man with his wife" is, not quite impossible but at least extremely unlikely.

There must be better English analogies, but the only one I can think of right now is from the French course, where the official English translation of "Les crédits" is "The credits". French crédit really means loan, so this is a very poor translation even though technically correct. A native English speaker who hears "the credits" without a very specific context won't think of loans, and similarly a native Dutch speaker who hears our Dutch sentence won't even consider the possibility that the man might be defined as "the man with his wife", as opposed to people listening to the man and his wife, who are both speaking.

[deactivated user]

    I'm not a native English speaker but that doesn't look like correct English to me. If you want to use 'speaks' you could go for:

    • Everyone listens while the man speaks with his wife


    No that's not what I meant.

    Let me give another example.

    Everyone listens whilst the man with the gun speaks.

    The man is not speaking with the gun, it is refering to a specific man with a gun.


    I'm a native English speaker. That's correct


    This is indeed correct. :)

    Everyone listens while the man, with his wife (appositive phrase), speaks. The commas were left out, but it is still the same thing.


    Native English here, and while it's not actually "wrong" to say it that way; it is non-standard at the very least, and to my ears would sound very awkward. What I find a bit odd is that an accepted solution was: "Everyone listened while the man AND his wife speak." Again, as a native English speaker, this would conjure up a totally different scenario--that being one where both a man AND his wife ARE speaking (not necessarily "with" each other, just that both are speaking, which is not exactly the image conveyed by the translation shown above: Everyone is listening while the man is speaking with his wife, which, admittedly to me, suggests the husband and wife ARE almost certainly speaking TO each other.--in which case I would have expected the verb to be spreken and not spreekt, the latter implying only ONE speaker.) I guess the reason this surprises me is because up till now I have found that the grammar flexibility in this course seems quite narrowly defined (little flexibility) where ever any slight variance from the strict message might be implied. No disrespect intended, just a personal viewpoint.


    I think in this context spreken would have been used as both the man and his wife talks (otherwise it is a very awkward sentence, while grammatically you are correct)


    Yes, a very awkward situation. I wouldn't want to be that wife, with my husband talking to me and I have no say in it in front of all those strangers. You are right "speak with" indicates both are speaking and "speak to" would indicate just the one is speaking to the other. Yet, the verb is still conjugated in 3rd person singular for both of those in English."He speaks to his wife. " "He speaks with his wife. " To become plural, it would have to be worded as "The man and his wife speak with each other." or "The man and his wife speak to each other." The question though is "How does the Dutch verb work?"


    As far as I'm aware, your suggested translation is also correct, as the subject could be either "de man" or "de man met zijn vrouw". I don't speak enough Dutch to be 100% sure, but I do speak German, which in this instance has the same sentence structure.


    I am a native speaker and in Dutch there is what is called in dutch, 'een meewerkend voorwerp' (english or Latin: like a dative/ german: lika a dativ). It has an order in Dutch (by the way Dutch is one of the most difficult grammar languages and constantly changes) and 'the man with his wife speaks' sounds very unnatural to me if you would translate it literally but it is grammaticly correct. it also has something to do with the other used words in the sentence. it is so complicated that I sometimes don't understand myself


    "Come on, that is not English!" comes up when you write "Everyone listens while the man with his wife speaks."

    ...yes, it is. It's a perfectly understandable interpretation and the sentence does make sense. It could mean everyone is listening to the man who is standing with his wife.


    Yes, but when you put a phrase between the subject and the verb in English, it is usually better to put it within commas as an aside. Otherwise, we would want to at least know who he is speaking to. "The man with his wife spoke to the audience for an hour." Wouldn't you rather say "next to" or "alongside" rather than use a preposition that is often used to indicate to or with whom you are speaking?

    "Come on that is not English!" should be reported for your answer as it is a bit much.


    It certainly wouldn't be my preferred way of constructing this sentence, but it still makes sense in English, so the "Come on, that is not English!" should be removed.


    Everyone listens while the man and his wife speak?


    Correct except for a little nuance. They are not just both speaking. The man is actually speaking 'with' his wife, i.e. to his wife -- in Dutch it's made explicit that the other side also says something.


    It makes sense when it correctly reads 'Everyone listens while the man with his/ and his wife speaks'

    Whereas if you translate it as you may have it would have had commas: 'Everyone listens while the man, with his wife, speaks' That would of made sense.

    Look at it with this example, the wife being an apple 'Everyone listens while the man with his apple speaks' This says the apple and the man are both speaking with each other.

    With commas... 'Everyone listens while the man, with his apple, speaks'

    I hope this kinda makes sense...


    I put "the man with his wife speaks" and it was marked wrong and should be "and his wife". Why "and" when "met" is "with"?


    How would I write "everyone listens while the man with his wife speaks"?


    I got it marked wrong too. I do not understand the translation which seems not connected with the words as I have learnt then thanks to Duo. Having read all the various comments, I am not the only one but this is not reassuring! Come on Duo, this is not adequate/fair! for a beginner.


    The key thing you have to understand is that Dutch has very peculiar word order rules. In subordinate clauses such as "terwijl de man met zijn vrouw spreekt", the verb always comes last, after any objects. This creates an ambiguity: Is "de man met zijn vrouw" a single phrase, or is it "de man spreekt met zijn vrouw" with the verb moved to the end to create a proper Dutch subordinate clause? In this case, the latter answer is the correct one because "while the man speaks with/to his woman" is a significantly more likely meaning than "while the man [who is] with his woman speaks".


    Why isn't "Everyone listens while the man speaks to the woman" correct?


    Zijn vrouw, not de vrouw.


    Everyone's listening? Why are they so nosy?

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