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  5. "Two black cats are dancing t…

"Two black cats are dancing the tango."

Translation:Kaksi mustaa kissaa tanssii tangoa.

July 21, 2020



Why is tanssii conjugated at the third person even though the subject is plural?


First of all, third person is an aspect, not a number. It can be both singular and plural. It's singular in this case because the adjective and the noun are singular as well, and the verb needs to agree with their number. Those are singular because numerals don't create plural forms. They are treated as amounts and thus apply partitive singular.


Kaksi mustaa kissaa tanssii.
Mustat kissat tanssivat. (any number of cats).
If you really want to force combine these two, you could say:
Kahdet mustat kissat tanssivat.
But that's nothing anyone would say even if it's grammatically correct.


Why not mustat kissat?


Because of the numeral.


i am surprised as well, but maybe because you have the partitive and not the nominative plural?


Why not tanssivat?


Tanssivat is a plural verb, and a plural verb typically requires a grammatically plural subject. The meaning of kaksi mustaa kissaa is plural, but grammatically, it's singular.

Mustaa kissaa is partitive singular, so if the verb were to agree with this, it must also be singular. Kaksi is nominative singular, so if the verb agrees with kaksi, it must also be singular most of the time.

There is an exception where the number is defined in some way, as in 'Nämä kaksi mustaa kissaa tanssivat'.


Thanks for the nice explanation. This reminds me in some ways of the discussions over "the family is..." vs. "the family are..."

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