"What did the students drink?"
Translation:¿Qué bebieron los estudiantes?
To explain this a bit more, as a statement, both forms are grammatically correct in spanish, however, for interrogatives(questions) it is verb-->subject.
Yes. In questions the subject often comes after the verb. Another example: "¿Cómo estás tú?"
This implies the same, it's finished in the past just like the word 'drank'
That would be 'which', which is used when the options are limited. The students could have drunk anything, so 'what' and therefore 'qué' is the appropriate question.
I think it is because "cuál" is used where the question relates to a limited number of selections. Here, the answer could be any drink (even though the answer is limited to drinks) so we use "que".
Of course that means that "que" means "what" in this instance and "cuál" would be used for "which". However that's not always the case, for instance "¿Cuál es tu nombre?" translates to "What is your name?".
I typed in 'lo que hicieron los estudiantes beben' and got it wrong. Interestingly, if you ask Google to do a spanish to english translation of 'what did the students drink' - what i typed is exactly what google responds.
So are Google and I both wrong? Or should I report this?
well google translate isn't reliable so I would say ( no offence) you might be wrong
You need to put the question mark to have any hope of an accurate translation from google in this case. Otherwise,it's not a sentence. Even then, I doubt it would give any kind of accurate translation.
So, yea, both you and google are wrong.
That would be a very literal translation involving the auxiliary verb 'did' which isn't needed in Spanish.
Bebían vs. Bebieron...OK. I think this sentence might finally clear up my confusion as to why these two can sometimes be interchangeable. (Imperfect vs. Preterite is what you'd call it if you knew what you were talking about). What did the students drink when they were in kindergarten? Bebían jugo o leche. What did students drink last night at the pub. Bebieron cerveza y licor. So I suppose in english we can just say "They drank..." to talk about either situation. "As children they drank..." or "Last night they drank..." But the spanish language makes a stronger distinction. More like -"As children they used to drink..." Bebían Vs. "Last night they drank..." bebieron. Anyway both bebían an bebieron are accepted and that's my take on why.
You're pretty close. Imperfect implies a certain "progressiveness" about the action. Preterite implies a very definitive beginning and end to the action.
As you said, the sentence about kindergarten, that implies a certain vague sense of "this happened many times". As such, the imperfect is used. With the pub example, it's a very definitive beginning and end.
Honestly in this sentence, without context, both past forms could be accepted(though I would lean in favor of preterite). The rules surrounding impefect vs preterite are sometimes not as hard and fast as one would like. It's a distinction that one very much develops in the course of using the language and interacting with those who understand the distinction subconsciously, i.e., native speakers.