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  5. "Zij krijgt geen appel, citro…

"Zij krijgt geen appel, citroen of limoen."

Translation:She does not get an apple, lemon or lime.

July 27, 2014



In English wouldn't this make more sense as "She gets no apples, lemons, or limes"?


I thought it looked best translated as "She does not get apple, lemon, or lime" like a flavor or something, but I was told my translation lacked the article "an" even though there was no "een" in the original sentence...that's weird.


Geen is the abbreviation of niet een, just like in English no can be used as an abbreviation of not a. (So the literal word-by-word translation is: "She gets no apple, lemon or lime.") The main difference is that geen is applicable more often, and its use is obligatory whenever it is applicable. Basically, you always have to replace niet een by geen except when you want to stress one of the words niet and een to the exclusion of the other, or to express an unusual special meaning.


Okay, I think it makes sense now. So basically the article "an" (or "een") is implied here.


It's actually part of the word geen. The only thing that is strange is that the negation is marked by g, where we might expect an n. (In German it's similar: nicht ein becomes kein.) If it were an n, we could think of it as just a contraction.


Yeah, that is kind of strange. Okay. Got it. Thanks!


Exactly. That is my complaint as well. I am a native speaker of English. Since there is no 'een' before the world appel, it is actually not correct to add 'an' before the word apple, especially since there is no 'een' before lemon or lime either. It does not say singular, or even imply singular, in any way.


In Dutch that would be "Zij krijgt geen appels/appelen, citroenen of limoenen." And I believe the difference in meaning is the same in both languages.

Our sentence might be the response to "Could you please make sure that she gets an apple, lemon or lime?"


And we would use the plural to answer your question, unless this is an adjective describing an unknown noun such as flavor. When we use the word no, we use the plural most often and we would feel compelled to state the noun in that case. The other way to state this would be "She doesn't get any apple, lemon or lime."


I think technically, "She does not get apples, lemons or limes" is not a direct answer to my question, so many logically minded people would avoid it. I agree that most English speakers would prefer to use any. This is probably because using any in this sentence is something perfectly normal to do, hardly makes the sentence longer to pronounce, and makes it stronger. This is the kind of situation that drives language change, in this case towards making a[n] ungrammatical in favour of any. I don't think we are there yet, but then I am a non-native speaker who perfected his English primarily through 18th century books.


But that's plural and they don't ask the plural.


Yeah but in English you don't really say I have no+singular. Or at least where I'm from anyway.


I believe it's the same in Dutch - but in both languages only in the common situations we usually think of. This sentence is special. See my other post, in which I gave an example of a request to which this could be the response.


There could be a specific scenario in which each person is supposed to get one of each of those fruits. So the singular is fine.

When using the plural in the English sentence, it implies a more general sense. For example, "She gets no chocolate" (because she is allergic to it).


Chocolate can be an uncountable noun, though, like water. It makes more sense than "She gets no can."


It's happy with the answer "she isn't getting any apples, lemons, or limes" now, which is what I gave it.


why is "she does not get apple, lemon or lime" unacceptable? This would be perfectly correct in English.


Exactly. That is my complaint as well. I am a native speaker of English. Since there is no 'een' before the world appel, it is actually not correct to add 'an' before the word apple, especially since there is no 'een' before lemon or lime either. It does not say singular, or even imply singular, in any way.


Is this normal not to put a comma before "or" here. I no it is optional in English.


The Wikipedia article on the serial comma doesn't mention a single language other than English in which it is (optionally) used, but lists a number of languages for which the editors found sources saying it's not used. Dutch is on the list.

However, I should warn you that there are special situations in which a comma before en or of is possible or even required for other reasons. Example in English: "Apples, pears, which are another little known kind of fruit, and oranges". You can see that the comma is not optional because it's not a serial comma. In Dutch you would put this comma as well.


Is there a difference between "get" and "receive" for the translation of "krijgen"?


I think it works roughly like this: The common English word get splits into the posh words obtain and receive depending on how active you are to get something. Krijgen roughly corresponds to get. Dutch for obtain is essentially beuren, verkrijgen, bekomen, and Dutch for receive is ontvangen, though these Dutch words are not Latin in origin and probably less posh.


Is the "ij" in "krijgt" altered in pronunciation because of the "g" that follows? I'm having trouble hearing the "ij" letter here.

But perhaps it's just me lacking a native ear and jumbling the troublesome "ij-g" combo!


there is no 'een' before appel in the sentence, so why I I wrong when I don't 'an' in the translation????? In English (my home language) you can say 'there is no apple, lemon or lime', and it is perfectly grammatically correct to say that.


What was your sentence?


My sentence was correct, but I did not say 'an' before the word apple. I said "She does not get apple, lemon or lime"


Then your sentence was in fact wrong as a translation. The Dutch sentence uses the negative indefinite article geen. You can think of it as short for niet een, except it's usually wrong (or misleading) to say niet een. Geen can usually be translated as not a or as no. Both options work in the present case.

Of course you can use your sentence to express a very specific nuance. (Treating apple, lemon and lime as categories of things rather than referring to fruits with them in the usual way.) But for that you would say something else in Dutch. An acceptable Dutch translation might be: "Zij krijgt appel, citroen of limoen niet."


OK, in that case it is also essential then to say 'a' before lemon and lime too, or the English is wrong. So it should be an apple, a lemon or a lime. It makes no sense to have one without the other. They are either all singlular or they are all not. Can't have only the first one singlular. Do you see what I mean? BTW, I've just tried several language translation apps, and although they all say it in various ways, none of them put 'an' before apple, and Google translate translates it the way I did.


To get this out of the way: Forget about automatic language translation systems when thinking about fine points of translation or language use. They are completely useless for this purpose except sometimes for inspiration. But they are completely unreliable, and it's very likely that none of them will provide the inspiration you would need to find the best translation. (They are not independent because they are all based on roughly the same methodology and so share certain systematic errors.)

(Automatic language translation has two uses: Giving people who don't understand a language at all a rough and hopefully not too misleading idea of what the text is about, approximately. And helping professional translators who know precisely what they are doing get their job done with slightly less typing.)

Next, in "an apple, lemon or lime", every normal person would read the indefinite article as obviously meant to refer to lemon and lime as well as to apple. Some people may disagree that this is grammatical, but they will not be misled. But even if, to make a point about the theoretical ambiguity, someone intentionally read this as switching from single fruits to fruit categories in the middle of the list, then even under this interpretation the nouns would still all be singular. However, under this strange interpretation, apple would be read as a singular countable noun and lemon, lime would be read as (necessarily also singular) uncountable nouns. As in "I had lemon for breakfast".

But the main point is really that in English it is possible to share a single article (or other determiner, or adjective) between a list of nouns. This is subject to some restrictions which are not easy to explain because they depend on various factors:

  • "The worthy men and women who are serving our country ..." - Perfectly unremarkable and idiomatic. Theoretically this could refer to the women who are serving our country (worthy or not) plus all worthy men in the world (or in the room) regardless of whether they are serving our country. But absolutely nobody would read it that way except as a good basis for a joke.
  • "The man and woman leading our government" - Everyone will recognise this as referring to the unusual situation of a government being led by two persons (a man and a woman) rather than the unusual situation of a single hermaphrodite government leader.
  • "The honourable man and woman leading our government" - Somehow, adding the adjective made the phrase more questionable. Suddenly I am slightly more inclined to consider the second reading.
  • "The honourable man or woman leading our government" - Now it's perfectly fine again.
  • "A debtor or creditor" - This phrase is so common that when I googled for it, I only had to enter the first two words. In books it is slightly more common than the more explicit "a debtor or a creditor".


OK, I hear your arguments, but it still does not detract from the original fact that leaving 'an' out does not make the sentence wrong. That is the only really important point of all this. We could discuss and negotiate and clarify and argue till the cows come home, and hundeds of excellent points could be raised, hundreds of excellent examples cited, but at the end of the day, the translation without 'an' is not wrong, the it should be treated the way other sentences which could be understood in other ways are in Duolingo - as alternative or preferred translation should appear.


It's an odd English sentence which apparently you chose for no other reason than that you didn't recognise geen for what it is. Duolingo is sometimes very generous in what it accepts, and it could certainly accept "She does not get apple, lemon or lime" as well. But there is a trade-off involved between accommodating mobile phone users who try to type as little as possible and may correctly say that dropping an doesn't really change the meaning and saves them a second, and alerting learners that far from being a weird variant of niet which Dutch speakers use according to inscrutable rules, geen is simply Dutch for not a, albeit overused in Dutch (and German) when compared to English.

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