What kind of a sentence is this? Please replace the pronoun "its" with an example.
Makes sense now. Many Americans are in the habit of referring to a company as "they" when it is really an "it." So, for example, "Did you visit Google today?" "Yes, and I have its books."
I think because using "De" for "They" is only when you're talking about people. "Det" can mean a bunch of things in different contexts.
It’s not really the case, it has to do with that det does not directly refer to the books, it’s just a formal subject or a dummy pronoun used because the sentence needs some sort of subject. It’s common to use when describing things. It’s similar to the ’it’ in ’it’s raining’ which doesn’t really refer to the rain or anything like that. Since it doesn’t refer to the books, they don’t agree with each other.
A native English speaker would never use the expression "they are its books". EVER.
"See those white parts at the top of the mountain range? They are its peaks." "See those dark spots on the moon? They are its craters" "You know those bubbles in the frog's water? They are its eggs". "Have you tasted those nuts from Iran? They are its biggest export" "Do you see those piles of ash inside the burnt-down library? They are its books."
Sure one would use it. Say there's a virus that owns a book. He and she would both be really weird to use when referring to a virus. Thus, "they are its books". Sure, the context is unusual, but since when has that made something ungrammatical or otherwise wrong? (Hint: never)
If the books belong to the library then they are "their" books. They do not belong to the building but to the people who run the library. As far as English is concerned. Some things do not translate directly.
Actually, whether to treat an institution as a singular entity or a plural differs among native speakers. Neither is wrong.
So why isn't the translation "their books" accepted in this instance by dueling?
Maybe we should decide which translations to accept based on dueling. :)
The problem to me is that there's a very large risk that if we add "their", then a lot of learners will inadvertently learn that dess is a plural form. So while it's a technically sound translation, it's still detrimental to our purpose. Unfortunately, some users - such as you - get caught in the aftermath, so to speak, and I regret that this happens but it's still probably the best option.
We do evaluate things like these constantly, though, so the input is appreciated.
How would you consider "an institution" plural? By definition that's singular. "Institutions" is plural. This is unquestionable.
Yes, of course it is a single entity. I wrote that whether to treat it as such varies among natives. As you say, it's much less common in the US than elsewhere - but it is correct both ways.
It's called a collective noun and is very common in parts of the English-speaking world, but rare in others.
For instance, in "the team says that..." and "the team say that...", you can use either, and it'll mean either the team as a common entity or the players in the team, so to speak.
Thanks for your response. I understand the concept of a collective noun. However, when I learned the language, agreement between nouns and pronouns is important. It does not matter that a team is made up of individual members. It is still a singular entity. Currently here in the USA, the singular noun/plural prounoun disagreement is nearly ubiquitous. My least favorite is when "individual" is referred to as "they." When using the language properly in the USA, that is incorrect.
I was wondering - would ''these are it's books'' also be a valid translation? (And why yes/no?) :)
No, because these would be det här, so your sentence would be Det här är dess böcker instead.
No, English " it's " and " its " are two different words. You would get "it's" from "det är", not from "dess"
After reading most of the comments on here, I think I've come up with the common English sentence that is used in this example---- THOSE are it's books. It may not be proper English, but I think many on here would recall saying Those instead of They.
That is proper English. However, it is an incorrect translation. those or these include extra information about proximity, which is not in this exercise.
We'd love to, but we can't. We cannot remove or move words, and at this point in the tree we just don't have enough words to teach dess in a way that makes sense.
I think you missed Arnauti's point. He's saying that he'd like to teach it in a way that does make sense, but with the way Duolingo's system works, it's impossible to get rid of this sentence in favour of a better one - at least until the next tree version. It's not that we're unaware of the problems, but we're limited by how the system works.
No, it's is a contraction for "it is"; unfortunately, you have to spell it as its without the apostrophe in this case.
"I am its student." is valid.
"Its" is possessive. I cannot conceive of how frustrating this is to learn when studying English. Oh wait, I can now.
In what way valid? It is neither grammatically correct nor is it English usage. Nobody English would say or write "it's books", and as the books are plural it is "they" not "it".
Why would it be grammatically incorrect?
Obviously it's a very rare construction in English, but not in Swedish, which is the point.
It is grammatically wrong to use it to refer to a plural. Books on its own (and I use the singular here because I am referring to the word itself of which there is one) is not a collective noun. Maybe one could say something like this sentence if one were to be asked "Which pile of books belongs to the library?" But it still sounds unnatural to my ears.
Ah, I'm sorry - I didn't notice "it is [...]" was accepted, I thought you were talking about "[...] its [...]". The default translation is "They are its books."
I absolutely get that the sentence doesn't make complete sense, but as Arnauti noted above, we can't really fix the problems for this tree version. Rest assured we won't be keeping this sentence for the next tree. I'm not arguing that it's in any way a good fit for the course - but it's going to have to stay as it is for a little while, I'm afraid.
Actually, there are already explanations and examples within the comments of this page.
They changed the default translation after some of the older complaining, but both translations are still valid and have corresponding comments for clarification.
It's its books. <==Not an error!
They're its books. <==Also OK!
I have no idea why people are saying this sentence is invalid in its direct English translation. If you were talking about a book club which possesses books, you would say "They are its books.".
Granted, it's not a sentence you would find yourself using in everyday life (and I myself got the answer wrong) but it doesn't invalidate its grammatical correctness.
If "Det är" means "it is", so would "That are its books" be a valid translation? I don't really get where the "they" comes from.
Arnauti's link above your post (in reply to fransomedan) explains this construction, which is unusual to speakers of English.
Ah, thanks a lot. Should have clicked that link before commenting. I probably got confused, since I'm a native German speaker and ít would be totally fine to say "Das sind" and mistranslated it to english.
Sure; it really is confusing--especially when we're comparing three languages (Swedish, German, and English). Lundgren8's explanation (above) is helpful, too. :)
Your comment has a typo. You put " it's ", rather than " its ", as used in this exercise. Also, you are incorrect. Please read the many examples provided in the other comments of this thread.
The point, moreover, is not whether a single instance of this utterance might be found, but whether it represents a useful translation of the Swedish text. I find it difficult to believe that the Swedish presented is nearly as awkward or uncommonly used as the English given as a translation. If a Swedish speaker also thinks that the Swedish phrase is awkward and uncommon, then the sentence really shouldn't be used as an exercise on duo lingo anyway. In either case, the exercise is clearly problematic.
That's true...it has a typo, my bad :) But my point is, even though our explanation is good, that this is a program to learn Swedish and to take a saying in English and translate it to Swedish is to much. My partner is Swedish and she said that you would not use these word in a sentence here in Sweden, even though they are good in English. I am Icelandic and the Swedish grammar and Icelandic is not that different in general and these translation and made up sentences are so out there sometimes because you would not talk like that here in Sweden...that was my point, and yes my other point was incorrect that it should be her/his :) It is just annoying when learning a new language you have to know English language 100% or be a native because yours is not an option...but let the party continue! :)
Typo be damned, I am Not incorrect. Your examples are ridiculous, and you are obviously not a native speaker.
Some other sentences you might use dess for:
"The accountant stayed late at the bank to review its books."
"I wrote a research paper about pollution and its effect on global warming".
"The fire marshal determined the greatest risk to the library; it is its books." "What did you say the biggest risk is?" "It is its books!" "Thanks, I know it is its books".
The exercise is to teach the word dess, which translates to its. That is the 3rd person singular inanimate genitive. It was incorrect to assert that they should translate it to his/her and explaining the error was meant to help. You were also incorrect to assume I'm not a native speaker, although you didn't specify which language your presumption related to.
Actually, if you were talking about a collection in a library or gallery, "its" would work here. Thorr18 makes a great point above.
While it "might work", the more natural response would be to say "the gallery's". Please remember that the point of this app is to learn a new language, and to gain some ability to communicate, preferably without sounding like a google translate robot or David Sedaris.
Your comment has already been made a few times and responded to here, so you may benefit from reading the comments.
See other comments.
It :3rd-person singular neuter pronoun. "I went to the library and it had good books".
Its : neuter possessive determiner (not to be confused with it's). "I went to the library and saw that its books were damaged.".
Thanks, that makes sense, what you have written. But the sentence on its own, not so much. Overall the English seems to be translated here word for word from Swedish, which is grammatically not correct quite often in English, but is in Swedish.
Yes; that is one of the accepted answers, as discussed in the other comments. They are its books is the other valid translation. The Swedish sentence is introducing some books to us and indicating they belong to something. We don't know the context because there's only one sentence. With context, Duolingo sentences would not look so odd. You could see some examples by reading the comments.
The odd thing I found about this solution (and I think neither context can fix this nor there is a comment which explains that yet) is the singular ("it is") vs. plural ("books"). So imo the sentence has to be number-consistent, but do no not hesitate to give me an example proving this wrong, i would have to thank you.
"What is the reason that drives people here to our small library?
It is its books!" (reason = singular, books = plural).
Personally, I say the syntax works. The question introduces a singular and wants a singular answer. The earlier example in this thread using singular "risk" is the same. Perhaps you could say it's actually short for "It is its [collection of] books.". However, if one doesn't like this usage, one is free to use the primary accepted answer.
Thank you for explaining, now I got it... I could not think of a way this works by myself as a non-native speaker.
Should it not be "De" instead of "Det" seeing as the word for books is plural?
This is a grammatical mistake in the english part, the correct way is "those are its books"
There's a lot of comments already analysing this exercise but technically your suggestion is an inaccurate translation and it's not correct for you to say the accepted answers are ungrammatical.
Nope, Swedish generally prefers the general "it" - det, even here.
No, det is much better. Swedish defaults to the general "it" so often that most natives will do so whenever possible.
It's absolutly not a mistake but, if you'd like to know why, there are actually already a ton of comments on this page discussing it. Also, there is more than one valid translation which is an accepted answer so you are not required to use they at all if you don't want to.
If three different people tell you, you you are a fish you should start looking for water.
That goes both ways. There are more than three people in this thread explaining how the construction works. Perhaps you should look for explanations rather than complaints.