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"What is the book about?"

Translation:¿Acerca de qué es el libro?

2
5 years ago

246 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Shelbyb11
Shelbyb11
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When do you use "sobre" and when do you use "acerca de"?

164
Reply5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/vicki.kura

"Acerca de" is "about" as in "the book is about a cat" and "sobre" is "on top of" as in "the cat is on top of the book".

65
Reply44 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/kasshiiee

"Sobre" can also be used to say "about". For example, "El examen es sobre Shakespeare" means "The exam is about Shakespeare"

104
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/RichWeber

It's a different kind of "about." When you are using it in regards to the subject of a book, or a story "acerca de" is used to mean "about," or "concerning the" (more exact). When talking about an exam sobre means "covers" or "goes over." Which is what the word means. The exam goes over Shakespeare would be a more exact English translation, when using sobre. Not all translators are created equal, and they don't always translate word for word. Sometimes it translates the concept as a whole which is not always great if you are trying to learn the language. That's why there is an "improve this translation." feature.

177
Reply173 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/brojohnsmith

And everyone say english is difficult because of multi meanings of words.

18
Reply2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/joyceluna3

everyone says...

5
5 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/KevinJarre1

Sobre means on. So think of it just like English. "The cat is on the book," or "the book is on cats."

11
Reply6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/The_Rope

I'm not sure how closely related TinyCards is to Duolingo but the only translation that TinyCards gives for sobre is "about". However, it seems Duolingo tends to only use sobre to mean on, atop, above, etc. It's a bit frustrating.

1
1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/beantorrent

Both a test and a book being about a subject use the same definition of the word "about". Also, "sobre" is applied to books. Real world example "Un Libro Ilustrado Sobre Martin Luther King, Hijo / An Illustrated Book about Martin Luther King, Jr."

2
Reply2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/edrib1
edrib1
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Your explanation is very helpful. I had noticed if you look at some words in the more exact meaning it helps to understand the way a language "thinks" when composing a sentance. Thank you. Ed

1
Reply5 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/keylababee94

So can you also use 'acerca de' in regards to the exam being that the exam could 'concern' Shakespeare? el examen acerca de Shakespeare?

0
Reply4 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/menotq

mucho gracias, explica muy claro

-1
Reply2 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Beth132937

Thank-you for clarifying. :)

-2
Reply4 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/vicki.kura

Thank you for the heads up. When you type "The exam is about Shakespeare" in a translator it does come up with "sobre". Guess I'll have to try Spanish Dictionary later since it won't come up now.

Someone should report this to duolingo.

8
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/novantiqua

I think that "sobre" in this sense is equivalent to "cover" in English. So: "The test covers Shakespeare"

7
Reply3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/stevenpboyer

or the test is "on Shakespeare" would make more sense

3
Reply3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/c.g.silver
c.g.silver
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Todo sobre mi madre (Almodovar movie)

1
Reply6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/thephotogod

I believe sobre is "on top of" meaning the physical sense. He is on top of the car.

13
Reply15 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/bsimmo14
bsimmo14
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I've seen examples on DL that used sobre. Like el libro es sobre los monos. The book is about monkeys. Something like that

21
Reply3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/wcpd

From Google Translate:

encima de: above, over, up, on top of, on, atop

sobre: on, about, upon, above, concerning, on top of

19
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/EdwardDov

I think that is "about" as in the sense of "being around"

-5
Reply2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Erwin_Rommel
Erwin_Rommel
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Almodovar's "Todo sobre mi madre" is translated as "All about my mother"

7
Reply2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Jacopo349562

Doesn't that mean "everything is on my mother", as in "my mother has to handle everything / has to take care of all the things"?

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Reply2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/DarthSean
DarthSeanPlus
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What you are running into is that each language lumps various meanings into their prepositions so that some constructs are less clear/more ambiguous than others. When I learned Castellano in Peru, they never used the preposition 'sobre' or 'acerca de' for subject. They used it for 'on top of' and 'nearby'. They acknowledged that others in the Spanish speaking world used those words, so they understood it, but they would maintain that it was not good usage. The subject of something used the verb/preposition, 'tratarse de'. "De que' se trata el libro?" "Of what (subject) does the book treat?"

33
Reply22 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Erwin_Rommel
Erwin_Rommel
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hm. you caught me there. I'm not sure but it makes sense I must admit

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Reply2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/roninsaun

Ensima is on top of excuse the spelling such as in encima la mese, on top of the table

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Reply3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/thefluent1

"Mese" is month and "mesa" is table.

-14
Reply3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/KejoFox
KejoFox
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Month is mes ;-)

12
Reply3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Doctor-John
Doctor-John
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The Oxford Spanish Dictionary offers three translations of "What is the book about?"

  1. ¿Acerca de qué es el libro?

  2. ¿Sobre qué es el libro?

  3. ¿De qué trata el libro?

Duolingo accepts the first two. If it doesn't accept the third, it should.

None of these sentences is about a physical relationship such as "on top of."

6
Reply5 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/trincowski
trincowski
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"Sobre" has several meanings. One of them is "about" as in "This is a book about cats." In this case, "acerca de" is a synonym of "sobre" and you can use whichever you like the most. http://es.thefreedictionary.com/acerca+de

0
Reply1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/rafa_mezes

I also want to understand this

-1
Reply5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/kasshiiee

I'm not quite sure. I think they mean the same thing and are interchangeable.

-3
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Gladius_Austin

Why ¿qué acerca del libro is wrong?

28
Reply5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/johnowens22

First let's understand the root of "acerca". Cerco/cerca means "close to or near something". In some countries, a fence is called a "cerco" because it draws the boundary between what is near from that which is outside or far. "A" means to approach, to go towards. So, acerca literally means either a) close to; or b) to go toward or get closer to something. The word "about" in English means to be "nearby". Here are some examples: i) "He is up and about" implies he is not traveling around the world but is relatively close compared to far away places. ii) Or, "in a round about way" means you got somewhere, but you didn't go straight. You traveled paths close to, but not on the shortest route. iii) We use it in time as well when we say it is "about 5pm", meaning it is near, but probably not exactly, 5pm. Your sentence says literally, "What close to (or about) the book?" Notice, you have no verb. The correct way to state it in English is either: 1) "What is the book about?" or 2) "About what (topic) is the book", or 3) "Tell me something close to the text, but not every single word in the book. That would take too long". (notice all of these have a verb) The second is the correct way to phrase the question in Spanish. "¿Acerca de qué es el libro?", literally means, " 'close to' what is (the meaning or content of) the book?", or more loosely "give me an account that is "close" to the story-line or subject matter of the book." Another way you could say it is, "¿De qué trata el libro?" which would literally mean, "of what or about what (subject) does the book treat (meaning of what subject is it a treatise). Notice treat and treatise are from the same root as the Spanish verb "tratar".

343
Reply335 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jdorlon

Thanks for the lengthy discussion. That will help me remember both acerca and tratar.

16
Reply5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Roger_Burke

Tratar not tartar

-3
Reply5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/McGhee34

So, I put "que es el libro acerca de". Why can't I put acerca de at the end? When I put it in google translate it reads "what is the book about". Am I incorrect or is that sentence structure acceptable?

9
Reply3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Mr_Roboto96

That is just incorrect sentence structure. I think a much more common translation (at least among Mexican and Mexican-American spanish speakers) would be, "¿De qué es el libro?" Literally, "Of what is the book?" But that's beside the point. Whenever you ask a question in spanish, the root of your question (quién, qué, cuándo, dónde, por qué, and cuánto) should be at or very near the beginning of the sentence.

24
Reply43 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jestings

Well, in "que es..." que is at the beginning of the sentence. Why is it wrong? Wouldn't that be a more direct translation? I'm sorry, I just don't understand spanish sentence structure very well, and It always helps me to understand WHY.

1
Reply3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/johnowens22

In your example, you have separated the prepositional phrase, and put half at the beginning and half at the end. You must keep the "acerca de" preposition and the object of that preposition "que" together. In English we started originally by doing this too, but have strayed. If you think back, you can probably remember your English teacher telling you the correct English formation is never to put the preposition at the end: we should say "About what is the book?" not, "What is the book about?" We should say, "To where is she headed?", not "Where is she headed to?" Our deviance in English is making many have a harder time in Spanish where this "laziness" is not (yet) tolerated.

59
53 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jestings

Ah, thank you very much, john. That makes sense. I never really thought of it that way.

-1
3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Drumknott
Drumknott
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Google translate doesn't really know grammar, it just translates individual words, so putting in a phrase or sentence will often result in something which makes no sense.

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Reply3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Doctor-John
Doctor-John
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Google does not just translate individual words. Whether it "knows" grammar is an interesting question. In the last year or two, Google switched from rules, algorithms, and dictionary to a radically different approach, namely artificial intelligence and an ability to learn from ongoing input. The result has been generally far better translations.

-1
Reply5 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/kristalzir

This is the best answer, gracias

0
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/n.shomik

Thanks. It clears up things. Should "qué es acerca de el libro" be correct?

0
Reply3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/nickos111
nickos111
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"de el" = "del". Is what i learned.

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Reply3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/KierenTinn

Great answer

-1
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jafaroule

you'r just about genious!

-1
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/FrancoRae

Thank you for the great explanation

-2
Reply3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/a.abbasi

Helpful explanation

-2
Reply3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/mprdo
mprdo
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"De que' trata el libro" is correct in conveying inquiry of subject matter there within. 5jul15

-2
Reply3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Chris462714

Thanks man very helpful, i was wondering this myself

-2
Reply1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/lindzieh1

I see it now. Thanks!

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Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Debbie270885

Could you just come to my house and help with my spanish ? Lol :)

-3
Reply2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Bellyzumba1955

thankyou you are very knowledgeable

-4
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Maitlin

I wrote: "¿El libro es acerca de qué?" Could this be correct as well? The direct English translation would be slightly clunky (The book is about what?"), but it still seems like it should work technically in Spanish, if not as naturally.

11
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/GuitarGreen

In Spanish, you aren't allowed to end a sentence with a preposition. It's actually a rule in English, but no one follows it anymore.

2
Reply1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/weichwieschnee
weichwieschnee
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Actually the "rule" in English is a prescriptive rule made to make English act more like Latin. Historically (and descriptively), it's actually more like German, with separable prefixes ("come with," "wake up," etc).

1
Reply7 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/joris.ev

I also wrote this, and it says that it is wrong. Would be nice to get some clarification here...

-1
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Lunabeams

I wonder if we'll ever know the answer to this...

-3
Reply3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/TylrrDean

Same experience here...

-4
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/darthnad3r

me three....

-5
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jbenton59

I wrote that as well.

-4
Reply3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/dclukens

I thought that word order wasn't as important in Spanish as in English. And yet, when I wrote: 'Qué es el libro acerca de?' it was not accepted. I used Google Translate and it translated to the same response, 'what is the book about?', so I am a bit confused.

4
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Roger_Burke

I am not certain, but I think Google translate is programed to get you some usable translation even if the input is chopped up into poor or at least less frequently used Spanish. Duolingo, on the other hand is programmed to teach a polite middle to upper class Spanish. Word order is often the reverse order to what we expect in English, but it is not arbitrary.

10
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Talulah

Try reverso.net instead. Over the years, I've learned that google translate is a bit... "special" :D

In general though, I use google translate, reverso, and spanishdict. The latter two offer a more in depth explanation as opposed to just an answer.

2
Reply3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/itsybitsyemu

Thanks for the resource!

-1
Reply3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Talulah

De nada, buena suerte :)

-1
Reply3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/yogibear42

De que va el libro is what you are given if you get this question wrong yet here it gives something totally different as the answer why?

1
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/tkpastro
tkpastro
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I got that response too. I was reading all these answers, but didn't understand the reference to "arceca de."

-2
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/KANABLE
KANABLE
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I got it wrong with "Que acerca del libro" but the correct answer that came up in the red bubble was "De que va el libro". Now the answer at the top of this thread i can understand, but cann someone please explane how "Of what goes the book" makes since?? I completely understand that not every statment or frase is a literal translation but we have not gone over the breakdown of this frase and it has left me with questions....

1
Reply3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/mattalxndr

It's "phrase", not "frase". And it's "ëxplain", not "ëxplane". And it's "can", not "cann". But I guess we're not learning English here..

-2
Reply3 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/bawallish
bawallish
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It let me use "¿De qué trata el libro?" I'm not even sure where I picked up the "tratar de" construction. I don't think it was in school. It just felt like the most natural way to translate this sentence.

0
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/weichwieschnee
weichwieschnee
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Yes, I've never heard "acerca de" to describe what something (book, movie, play, etc.) is about. It's always been "de qué se trata".

-1
Reply7 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Queen_Ree

"que es el libro acerca de?" .. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it. Dont care what duolingo says lol.

0
Reply4 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Mangobird

Why is "El libro es acerca de que?" an incorrect translation?

0
Reply3 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Matt533566

You can't end a sentence with a preposition (like qué) in Spanish.

0
Reply2 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Mangobird

What is wrong with: "Cual es el libro acerca de?"

0
Reply2 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Mohan67679

CouFUSEd

0
Reply2 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/JamesYourk

When do you use de?

0
Reply1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/miramar2013

why do we use 'va' (to go) here?

-1
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Roger_Burke

?

-2
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Jyous
Jyous
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I saw this given as the correct solution also. I don't understand it either. ¿De qué va el libro?

-2
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/skeez1960
skeez1960
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DL also accepts "de que es el libro"

-1
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/khaakenajaf

duolingo suggests "¿De qué va el libro?" but it does not make any sense to me. and this question is difficult.

-1
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ChumaUmenze

I answered "¿Cuál es el libro sobre?" Duolingo says it's wrong.

-1
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/vicki.kura

Duolingo uses "sobre" for "on top of". "Acerca de" is used for "about".

-2
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/vashii

De qué va el libro? Thats the answer i got! Explain me por favor,gracias

-1
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/CameronHenri

I find it an easy trick to remember word order if you speak it in english out loud or in your head the way it would translate in english. For example: it would translate to "About of what is the book". You'll remember this easier and be able to translate it to spanish. I notice new english speakers sometimes talk like this. Lingots if this helped you.

-1
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/vicki.kura

I feel the same way Henri.

-1
Reply4 years ago