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  5. "Tuolla on joki."

"Tuolla on joki."

Translation:There is a river over there.

July 11, 2020



You can also say “Over there is a river”. It is still perfectly valid in English. I tried with this translation on purpose, and it was judged incorrectly.

So we need to be mindful that English can also do funny things with word order like in Finnish.


Exactly! I was gonna ask that


Did the exact same thing and I also think it should be a valid answer.


Some of these expected answers ("There is a river over there") with the redundancy are non-intuitive and seem like they could be phrased better.


I believe they are trying to emphasize how the words tässä, täällä, tuossa, tuolla etc. are used, because they indicate different distances and positions of the person using the word.

Somewhat similar to what is found in Spanish with acá, allí, allá etc.


Also, what Kristian said. "There is" and "over there" may sound redundant but they mean different things.


Reflecting on it, I think you are right. I get that the distinction between the Finnish words ("tässä", "täällä", jne) needs to be reinforced. There have been other answers that do seem strangely redundant in the wording. If I see one of those, I will point it out.


What redundancy? The "there" at the beginning of the sentence is a dummy subject and has nothing to do with location.


I get the need / want to differentiate but the translations sound a bit unnatural... All this "over here", "over there" feels slightly off to me anyway, I think I'd mostly use those expressions when pointing, as a short reply to a question... is this an American thing again???


It's pretty universal.


Why is "There is a river." wrong?


It's not, as long as you don't mean it as an existential phrase. If your pointing at a river, it's fine.


-Over there is the river- could be a translation I think. If not why not?


First of all, word order often affects whether the subject is definite or not. If the sentence starts with the subject, it's probably definite. If not, it's probably indefinite. That applies here.

Tuolla on joki = There is a river (over) there

Joki on tuolla = The river is (over) there

Secondly, English is not as flexible with word order as Finnish is. The usual sentence structure is subject-verb-object followed by the adverbials, preferably in the order of manner-place-time. What you've done there is you've put a place adverbial at the beginning. An adverbial can be placed at the beginning, but doing so would sometimes result in an odd-sounding sentence. This is one of those situations.


Then that needs to be made a lot clearer, especially moving forward with later iterations of the Finnish tree. It’s those little things that a non-native speaker will not understand straight off the bat without prior explanation.

  • 1319

I can imagine that the Tips and Notes that will eventually be added to this lesson will exactly do that. However, this topic (word order affecting "the" vs. "a") has been brought up in previous sentence discussions.


Thanks a lot for that, Kristian. I had finally began to suspect this several days down the track. I like things spelled out. And you are right that the word order in my proposed translation is unusual; it would only work if one was on the spot, explaining it.


Complicating the English translation is getting in the way of learning.
Yes - for sure "There is a river over there" is something I might say in English. But I would also absolutely say "Over there is a river". Since the words in the Finnish sentence are : tuolla=over there ; on=is ; joki=a river - maybe just keep it simple?

Seems like when we swap it around, as in your second example, we still get the definite/indefinite distinction, but we ALSO get the vocabulary and construction norms.


I followed the "style" of exercises in this set and wrote (correctly, as it turned out) "There is a river over there." Though I would never say that in English, which is my native language. Why so awkward, Duolingo?


Is it some sort of Spaceship English? "There is a river over there" is definitely said by English speakers.


I think part of what makes "There is a river over there" come across (at least to some) as awkward is that, in natural speech almost invariably one would use the contraction: "There's a river over there." Having the "There is" with "over there" makes it sound overly mannered.


Months ago I wrote a question about this exercise. Now, on my second time through Finnish Duolingo, with the tips in place and Kristian Kumpula's comments here, it makes more sense. What seems awkward phrasing in the English reflects a way of expressing things in Finnish and so it's worth getting used to. Other lessons, along with this one, address ways of indicating "the river" and "a river" in Finnish, with its lack of articles. So, though we'd rarely use the phrasing of this exercise in conversational English, it shows a pattern of expression in Finnish. Which is useful.


Why not "The river is over there"?


See moderator KristianKumpula's comment above which begins "First of all..." It explains the distinction pretty well.


'Tuolla on järvi' is 'there is a lake there' in english, and 'tuolla on joki' is 'there is a river over there' in english. Why???


Is the "over" necessary? Why? Is "There is a river there" not correct?

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