1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Duolingo
  4. >
  5. Hints and tips for the use of…


Hints and tips for the use of Duo

Here is a compilation of hints and tips I find myself posting frequently. I hope they are helpful and that others will add to them. Many I've gained through experience and even more from other users whom I thank. Most can be found in the Guidelines posted below.

Hover Use the HOVER DROP DOWN HINTS pass your cursor over a word and a list of translations will appear.

  • Here's an important tip: usually it's the first word shown that is the most suitable for that sentence!

Here is a very good dictionary/translation site with several dictionaries and a huge list of language pairs:


Tips You'll find grammar and vocabulary help for most skills in the Tips & notes on the Home Page. Click on TIPS at the start of the lesson and it will take you to the "Tips & notes.


  • On the comment section always read the previous comments. Not only might you find the answer to your question, you will get loads of help, explanations, references and a good deal of humor.


  • If you think Duo is wrong (hasn't accepted your correct translation, has a grammar or other error etc) use the Report a Problem or Support options. See the guidelines to find them.


  • Bookmark these two Guidelines and refer to them often. They'll answer a lot of questions and make things so much easier:

Official Duolingo Community Guidelines .... (https://www.duolingo.com/guidelines). <

http://duolingo.wikia.com/wiki/Duolingo_Wiki <

Here is the Guideline we've all been waiting for:

Best wishes and enjoy learning.

October 2, 2014



This is insightful and profoundly valuable commentary. I can testify that jaye16 lives by these principles. To me, probably the most important point is the content of the item called "Unnecessary changes." I have no doubt that jaye16 speaks for our community's most skilled, dedicated, and knowledgeable collaborators. I am afraid that those who most need to read these guidelines — the trolls and gamers — are the least likely to do so. Here are 50 lingots.


Thank you so much for your encouraging words. My head is getting so big I'll lose my balance. And the oh so generous lingots. Ah, yes I know what you mean that those who most need the guidelines will not read them. Perhaps, if they are served such a site with so much staunch support it'll get through. And as a final benefit it will be easier to paste the site rather than repeatedly type out the ideas. I've been told the format needs work to make it more readable any ideas would be a great help.


I agree. Back when immersion existed I would cringe at Americans spelling "color", but I would leave it. When some English person gets there first and writes 'colour' and is corrected it is too much too ignore.


Thank you

this is a posting to remember

so I will write out the good bits

and fill up some pages

in my notepad

Pencil in one hand

coffee in the other


Jack you are a dear. I was hoping it would be helpful and hearing it from you is the ultimate reassurance. Many thanks and for the lingotS.


my pleasure indeed


I would only add, don't take this site too seriously. When faced with a linguistically challenged but officious computer, remember to point and to laugh.


Now if that isn't a first class tip. Thank you for contributing it.


It tried to insist that I use 'got' with 'have' yesterday and not only that, added an officious and inaccurate message to tell me it thought me a dinosaur. I had to remind myself that the computer is too stupid to punch. :)


In British English they do say "have got." We Americans use "have gotten" to rhyme, so to speak, with "forgotten."


You would probably thoroughly enjoy "I'm a Stranger Here Myself", a book about a man who lived outside of the U.S. for decades only to return and see 1-800 numbers on toothpaste among a lot of other chuckle-worthy things. :)


jairapetyan I have found the first chapter of "I'm a Stranger Here Myself". Many thanks to efisgpr for suggesting it. I'm planning to read it tonight.



The one by Bill Bryson? Yeah, it's great. I think I've read all his books. My favorite remains, "A Walk in the Woods." It's fun to hear him narrate it too. You have to read the book first though, because his narration is an abridged version. For the unabridged audiobook they employed a professional, who isn't so funny!


Having found the first chapter in Jaye's post above, I must say it is an interesting piece of writing! I'll have to look into purchasing it as well. Thank you for the recommendation!


jaye that was really nice of you to put the link to the first chapter so that anyone reading these comments can get hooked on Bill Bryson! :) Great reading, and this particular book will be of special interest to English learners, since it deals with both American and English cultures.


jairapetyan I though you'd like it. I'm looking forward to getting the book. I like Bill Bryson and have read other books. Thanks for the info on "A Walk in the Woods" it's on my list of must reads. Also, "Mother Tongue" I just can't keep away from books about language. Be well.


Many of us do but it is not compulsory. Not using 'got' to indicate possession is not an error. Use 'got', that is. Not accept 'gotten', that's plain wrong in written modern British English. It's antiquated. It does exist in some country dialects but they are dying out fast, sadly.


I was not referring to "Have you got" vs. "Do you have." I was saying that Americans believe the past participle of "get" is "gotten." In America one would say, for example, "She had gotten it earlier;" which at least used to be considered wrong in British English. Btw, I taught for many years at the British Institutes and the British Council.


Perhaps it would be better if I asked that in a question format rather than make an assumption; so here it is: do the British tolerate or ever use the word "gotten?" Returning to America after decades of teaching British English, "gotten" sounded so wrong to me. Now I have become accustomed to it, but I still say "got" myself.


As far as I remember it's a resounding "no". It's not so much not tolerating as never even knowing it existed. I had an English teacher (from England I mean) who asked me "where did the students get that word"? She was fully qualified to teach EFL but had never heard it. :-)


To jairapetyan, the answer to your question is that no, we British do not use the word "gotten". As for do we tolerate it, I wouldn't use the word tolerate as it indicates that we disapprove but put up with it, used by an American English speaker, we just accept that's what they say and for them, its both natural and correct but for a British English speaker, we would just think they were either wrong, or using dialect.


jaye16: your English teacher was a little ignorant of history then! While in modern British English 'gotten' isn't used (except in 'ill-gotten gains') it was normal centuries ago. Remember that America was colonised a long time ago and in some respects their speech reflects this archaic form of English. Of course, I'm not saying they're backward! ;)


Gotten was widely used in. England in Shakespeare 's day, then we seem to have dropped it. Those in the us kept it


Interesting! I'll haven't read Shakespeare since high school - I'll go grab something from the library. :) Thanks!



Here is a searchable Shakespeare concordance. Apparently the total count is 5 occurrences, of which 4 seem to mirror modern American use. http://www.opensourceshakespeare.org/search/search-keyword.php

I note in passing (for the avoidance of doubt) that Americans do use both "I have got" and "I have gotten." They're just not synonyms.


Can you give some examples from Shakespeare please? The only times I remember it occurring are in phrases like "gotten of a..." where it is a shortened form of begotten rather than a longer form of got.


@piguy3: Nice resource - thanks for the link. I had noted from https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/gotten the distinctions in meaning.


'Gotten' with an 'en' was from Old English. The British changed it. In Old English, it was 'gietan'.

Forgotten was forgietan, begotten was begietan.

Gotten is nowhere new. Got is new.


Yes, in the comments above people were mentioning that Shakespeare used it a lot. Thanks for clarifying.


As a past participle "got" is used in Brit. Eng. while "gotten" is used in USEng. Both are correct. See: grammarly

There is the phrase meaning "should/must" which uses only "got". E.g. "You have got to see the series on TV."


Oh, don't I know it. There are so many such situations. I keep reporting and hoping. Some lingots for the many ideas you've shared.


laughter being the best medicine


A wonderful reminder Luscinda. Indeed, I will remember to point and to laugh. I promise I will never punch my dear workhorse of a computer no matter how dumb I "have got" on days. Sadly I've completely given up on anything being done about the rogue point and tier grubbing translators running roughshod, making unnecessary changes, over somebody's genuine and careful effort; and particularly the machine translation "pasters" of 2-4 sentences scattered within a wide variety of uploads so it tends to slip under the radar. My notifications about these prolific "Machine Pasters" have all fallen seemingly into a black hole, unacknowledged, and the situation in every serious case still remaining unremediated. Yes indeed, "don't take this site too seriously" is good advice for the times when I feel a bit of a grumpysaurus.


Generally good tips, although I think you should probably organize them better. It may be hard to understand what guidelines you are referring to since the text is coming up after the link.

Also the most important tip I'd suggest to anyone using a computer or website of any sort is to first search before asking a question. If you post first, you may wait a long time to get an a response, people may not even answer it at all if it is too repetitive, and you may get down-voted to oblivion if your post is a FAQ( and has been answered).


Now, who is / are the ghost downvoters around here. If you disagree with something come out into the open and enlighten us. D's advice is offered sincerely and is appreciated.


P.S. You can easily add bullets, e.g.:


- [Official Duolingo Faq](https://www.duolingo.com/help)
- [Official Duolingo Guidelines](https://www.duolingo.com/guidelines)

Will result in :


  • Now, I'm beginning to see the light.
  • And it would give the passage a more approachable look.
  • Thanks again.
  • I look forward to trying out various "styles".

    Children will play.


This is an excellent compilation! Thank you very much, jaye16, I know that you always follow these rules yourself, and I appreciate it! Have a hundred lingots.


Your kind words and generous gift of lingots are overwhelming thank you hardly says it. You are also a follower of these rules which is why it's so good to see one of your translations.


Strongly agree with what you say about Immersion (10 lingots from me!).


Your approval means a great deal and I thank you very much. And many thanks for the lingots. So, many ideas were garnered from others that I'll try to pass them on.


This is an excellent post Jaye. Thank you for going to the considerable and caring effort involved. It is a great idea to use its URL, instead of having to repeatedly type the same thoughts over and over. I hope it will be given a sticky status on the General Discussion board.


I would add to the paragraph regarding the hover function, that what pops up are only the most common translations and sometimes the correct word needed in a particular context does not appear at all. If something doesn't make sense try looking it up in Word Reference.com or even Google Translate.


Ah, yes very good ideas. There is also: >http://www.lexilogos.com/english/italian_translation.htm# With many sites and a huge list of language pairs.


Ah, that looks nice. I bookmarked it and will try it soon. Grazie!


Thanks a lot, I'll be sure to read all of this with great care, as I have yet to really jump into immersion on here. :) And wow look at the responders to your post....it's like "the multiple 25's club", lol. I'm not worthy............yet. :D


Glad you like it and hope you will contribute your ideas.


Excellent hints and tips. Thank you for going to the trouble of articulating them!


Thank you for your kind words. I'm working on improving the format, not my strong suit, to make it more readable.


Holy Moley. I just read all of the aforegoing comments...methinks you are all too clever for me. However, I enjoy the banter so will continue to observe from the sidelines. Thanks jaye16, for the assistance!


Nope nothing of the sort. Maybe some have been around longer that's the only difference. Don't put yourself on the sidelines better to jump in. You won't drown 'cause there are people around ready to help out. And don't forget on Duo you have no one to answer to. So, relax and enjoy.


I wish everyone would read these tips... It gets annoying when people edit your translation by just adding a space or changing 'a' to 'an' or something like that. Thanks for making this! :)


Maybe someday they'll have a "ramp up to immersion" skills tree making you learn the general guidelines & navigation, plus some similar tips on resources. I like the idea of it being mandatory.


I agree those little edits must be annoying. However I have to say that the difference between "a" and "an" is an important one in English, so the person who makes that edit is being helpful.


Thank you for your input. Let me be a bit clearer: incorrect usage of "a" and "an" is not a little edit. It is a major grammatical error and I agree with you that changing it is definitely required. What I was talking about was unnecessary changes as in the example.


Some folk just want a piece of meat. Some like their steak 'a point' and care very much. Major vs unnecessary isn't as clear cut as you might believe.


But sometimes it is necessary to edit those, kungfucat107. However, normally when I do something like that, I share credit.


Glad you like it and hope you find it helpful. Feel free to add any other tips or advice. Best wishes, j


Thanks for this post Jaye it's a great help for newcomers and an excellent aide memoir for the rest of us. I have bookmarked this and if I spot anything useful on my travels I'll let you know, so that you can add it if you wish and the OP agrees. :-)


Yes, yes please your input would be invaluable. While doing the exercises I found myself constantly writing the same advice so finally decided to put it all in one place and ask others to chip in. Now, I just post the link and newbies have a few ideas at their fingertips.


Ok, I'll make sure I do that then :-))


Super it will do so much good.


About the comments - if you have a really funny quip to insert, check to see if someone else posted it already. If they did, upvote it to the sky, comment on it to make it funnier, and maybe even give the person a lingot. No, a comment like "cool," "ya," or "LOL" will not necessarily make it funnier (unless it's unexpected or part of a joke). Incredibly smart comments generally follow the same rules as incredibly funny ones. And if you happen to be taking French, know that I got yelled at by Sitesurf (one of the French moderators) for making funny comments


Thanks for making this list! :-)


Happy to be of assistance.


wao, i believe it would be important. mark.

Learn a language in just 5 minutes a day. For free.