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het/de when asked to translate a single word

I get that the het/de distinction is somewhat arbitrary. However, in Spanish I'm asked to translate "the dog" to "el perro". I think it would help here if I was asked to translate "the dog" to "de hond" instead of "dog" to "hond". Is there any reason this approach wasn't taken?

August 1, 2014



Reason 1: Why there is no article when word images are given

We do not have a feature which makes it possible to:

  1. Introduce word images with the article. It's just not available for incubator courses.
  2. Teach you articles in a 'crash course' kind of way. This exercise also isn't available yet.

Now, Duolingo staff has been awesome with regards to the word image feature so far. There have been issues with the word images preventing us from going into beta before (perhaps you guys remember), and Duolingo tweaked the word image exercise loads in order for us to move forward. There are also many word image improvements to come (we are, f.i., looking forward to introducing many more images in our course, of clogs, windmills, cheese, haha, etcetera!). I'm sure a feature introducing the article will be available in the future and, if possible, we will definitely adapt the word image exercises accordingly. :)

Reason 2: Why articles are not given to you by means of the hints when you hover over a noun

We work together with Duolingo staff to provide the best language courses possible. In consultation with our mentor and the rest of Duolingo staff it was decided that it is best to start off without giving you the articles for every noun. This is largely based on the fact that the German course does not provide the articles as hints either and that this works perfectly fine: For our course too, in 90% of the cases, when the English article is hovered over, the right article should be given.

While we respect the difficulty that users are experiencing and do listen to everything you say, we support Duolingo's intention of testing different approaches and agree with them that trying out this approach, where it is necessary to take note of the guidelines for the right article use and memorize aspects, is surely worth a try.

By the way...

Here I actually want to make a general remark (Forgive me, OP ^^).
We take your feedback very seriously. After all, in the first place, we're regular users and language enthusiasts, like you guys.

We are not as powerful or infuential as many may think. Designing features and implementing them takes a lot of work and time, the latter of which the Duolingo staff already has very little. Thus, I'd like to ask everyone to be patient with, and perhaps more forgiving when it comes to, the supposed lack of article help and hints... and give this a shot. Mind that even when we urge Duolingo to change or design a feature, changes and improvements take quite a while. :)


Thanks for the response. I figured there was a reason (or two) but wanted to make sure it was at least considered.


I had the same question. Its not a HUGE deal, but for me, Im accustomed to learning vocab with gender, and this method is just a tiny bit frustrating because Ive always felt its inefficient to learn a word without knowing gender. But I guess as long as the system doesn't introduce them too much after introducing the words its not that important.

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