"Det är dess böcker."

Translation:They are its books.

November 25, 2014

This discussion is locked.


What kind of a sentence is this? Please replace the pronoun "its" with an example.


Det är bibliotekets böcker.

Compare to this discussion https://www.duolingo.com/comment/5527786


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."


Exactly right. We would say "I have their books."


I guess i feel a tad bit of guilt referring to something as an item idk? "it" kinda feels condescending i think


I guess it's similar to Finnish. Correct word would be "Hän" which is he/she but often people use "Se" which means it.


"it" ("det") instead of "these" is used in all other North Germanic languages, and it is absolutely correct and not colloquial. German and Dutch do it the same way when it comes to "det".


Tack! I replied in the other discussion.


You could also have books that go with a machine ... Like instructions.


The library's books maybe


Det är means ‘it is’, shit, how can it mean they are?


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.


If the sentence just needs a dummy pronoun, then why not use "de" instead of "det"? That's what I'm confused about


Swedish always uses the same dummy pronoun regardless of the situation, and that's det.


And so does German ("das", and in many dialects "dat", "det", "des" etc.)


But they do not say "es sind seine bücher' or?


Answer to "Simon117696":

Of course, Germans say "es sind seine Bücher" OR "es sind dessen Bücher", or: "das sind seine Bücher" etc.


Great example, thanks - tack.


Tack så mycket! I was having trouble grasping it but this makes sense


'They' is the plural of 'it'. The dogs... They. One dog ...it.


The Tips explains the phrase. It represents both singular or plural references.


Why det and not de for they


They means De, right?


Its books? Whose books? The cat's? The turtle's? :)


The library's.


A native English speaker would never use the expression "they are its books". EVER.


What if you were to have a pet dog, and you gave some books to it? And a relative visited you:

"This is my pet dog Max"

"What the f*ck are those?!"

"They are its books"

Ok, I agree, pretty clumsy. You would probably call your dog "him" and not "it", although I guess that depends on the person. But you would probably say "those" instead of "they":

"Those are his books"

But I believe that at least in principle you could say "They are its books". Or maybe that's broken English. Beats me.


Your imagination is failing you. There is the Supreme Court case where the phrase was actually used. "They are its books, in the eyes of the law". The "it" referred to a corporation. https://goo.gl/UIp30U


Legalese in no way counts as representing native English.


"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."


As a lawyer, I concur with this statement. (To the point, I think it's a very awkward sentence, but I can imagine it being used outside of a judicial setting)


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)


Oh your logic is no fun. :) Have a lingot!


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.


It would be better to have two sentences so that it's clear what dess is referring back to. What puzzles and annoys users is the sentence appearing in isolation.


The other thread on a dess exercise has discussion about their also. https://www.duolingo.com/comment/5730521


Should read duolingo - predictive text!


How would you consider "an institution" plural? By definition that's singular. "Institutions" is plural. This is unquestionable.


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.


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.


And SCOTUS has ruled that corporations can be treated as individuals. :-)


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.


Yes, exactly. Translation isn't meant to be literal, but rather contextual.


Curve ball. Odd sentance.


I am a professional translator and this is one of the worst sentences I have ever read. This translation was done word for word and it absolutely makes no sense. It is not always possible to translate a sentence that way, we have to find the meaning. A better way would be: they are their books. But then again it's could also mean as child a woman a man etc.


this sentence doesn't make sense in English. please fix.


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.


Why teach it in a way that does not make sense? And this does not.


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.


How About ”I am it’s student “ Duo of course


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.


It's a valid English sentence.


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 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.


Ohh I get it. Thank you! :)


No, English " it's " and " its " are two different words. You would get "it's" from "det är", not from "dess"


even if this sentence can have very specific uses, this is in no way common and should not need to be said


Could you use "de" (dom) here instead of "det"?


The short answer is no. I wrote much longer about the det är construction here: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/9708920


There's actually already a comment here explaining that the "Det är construction" must be used in this sentence, rather than the plural pronoun de, and it links to this:


I don't understand. Can "det" mean "they?"


The word Det in this sentence might translate to either singular it or plural they but, as already explained in the comments several times, it uses the "det är construction" with more information found here:


It's is referring to something previously mentioned, like a library in this case.


OK this sentence came up again, and got me thinking, perhaps it is the books belonging to library.


"Those are their books." should be accepted as a correct answer and valid possible translation that is also something that a native English speaker actually does say. If the example given is that the books in question may belong to a library, most native English speakers would then say, "Those are their books." This is because, although a single library as an abstract noun may be singular in terms of proper grammar, in practical reality, most libraries are run by a whole host of people, collectively thought of as 'they' in the minds of many speakers, when referring to a library. Whose books are those? Those belong to the library. Those are their books. :)


Not convincing.

What would you say instead of "those are its windows"?? (speaking of the windows of a building, definitely not "their" windows, right?)


This sentence really gave me a hard time


The audio is IMPOSSIBLE to hear in either slow or fast mode. This is very discouraging.


That doesn't really flow well and doesn't make much sense


Your comment has already been made a few times and responded to here, so you may benefit from reading the comments.


It tells me to write: It is its books. Does this make sense to anyone?


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?


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.


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.


I am still SO confused


Maybe a library's?


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.


This is not a correct english phrase


It is. Please refer to the many other comments on this.


As far as I know, in English 'its books' would not refer to a person (like a man).


Good, then you've understood the sentence. :)


The problem here is that many of us aren't native English speakers and this is a very strange sentence


I bind books at work, and I'm constantly referring to loose pages as, "they are its pages" or " these are its books". (Usually while pointing to them" So it all makes sense.


Im confused wjth this sentence... in English I would never say this.. this would'nt be grammatically correct. I would say "They are 'his/her' books." So would this be an example of saying "his/her" books?


"The books belong to the library. They're its books."

I admit it's hardly a common construction, but it's perfectly grammatical.


A lot of people turning themselves into pretzels trying to explain how this is a proper sentence. When you twist enough you can make it work, but it is very clumsy and no literate native English speaker will ever utter this sentence. Nice try, though.


Sure, I can agree with that, to some extent at least. As noted above, I doubt we'll keep this sentence for the next tree. But people keep claiming that it's not grammatical or understandable, which is a separate issue.


I think, the sentence is perfectly fine. - As I wrote in another comment, how would a native English speaker translate, e.g. "det är dess fönster" - wouldn't it be "those are its windows"? (regarding the windows of a building)


It is the same type of sentence construction as in German!

For those who have experience with German: "es sind dessen (or: seine) Bücher"

det=es, är=sind, dess=dessen, böcker=Bücher

For instance: a child's books (in German: dessen Bücher, OR: seine Bücher); ein Kind (a child) is a neutrum in German (like Swedish barn, too).

So this Swedish sentence makes perfect sense for a German.


Please can someone explain better why is it det instead of de. I know det to be "it" so am so confuse here


Please see the many other comments on this. :)


Is 'dess' for plural nouns only (like 'mina' and 'dina'), and in that case, what are the sg forms (like 'min' and 'mitt')?


No, it's dess regardless of number and gender.


I don't understand this sentence.. doesn't mean nothing ? Are you sure ?


The real sentence it's ... it's its books


I wrote 'It is it's books" and my brain jumped out of my head. Technically i got it correct but i'm just being dumb lol


How come the word "Det" is translated as "They". I believe it should be "That"...


Because you can't say "that are" in English, maybe? Different languages - different rules!

In German, you would also say "das" (or in many dialects: dat and even det) for "det". :-)


'These are' maybe? 'They are' just doesn't make any sense.


Are there different forms of dess?


The English translation didn't make sense: They are it's books


"those" instead of "they" would be alright; and it's "its", not "it's". :-)


these ... still not accepted as of September 2021.... Can't wait when DUO finally keeks out those amateurs and makes Swedish a professional course as they did with French and German...


Really hard sentence to understand as an English speaker.


"They are its books. "

What does this "its" mean? Jag förstår inte! What is that referring to?

They are their books. Is something wrong with this?


"dess" (= its) is singular, "their" is plural - so the subject the pronoun is referring to is something that is singular, not plural


Thanks for the clear explanation!

"dess" is singular, "deras is plural; I mistook "dess" for "deras".

My English sentence, although it is not the Swedish translation, is itself legitimate, I would say. Can I translate it back into Swedish: Det är deras böcker. ?


You are welcome. But obviously, many native speakers of English do not like the translation, although they have the word "its", and I now wonder when they ever use it. ;-)


I am not Swedish but Danish - our languages are close - and this translation is definitly wrong.


This does not make sense in English !


How about Those are their books


"dess" is singular (referring to an item, a unit, an institution etc. in singular), whereas "their" is plural.

Just imagine a fairytale or something like that: A little bird owns books. Then wouldn't you say: "Those are its books."? :-)


Right. I can see I am not alone here


Sorry..maybe already been asked: why not "those" ?!


This does not sound like proper English, I am wondering when you would use a construction like that


This sentence makes my brain itch.


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. :)


What "they are it's book" ?? Makes no sense!! Should be "it is his/hers book"


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.


They weren't talking about you.


it is its books?? What does that mean?


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.


Weird sentence!


This sentence is all together wrong. "It is their books" is the correct translation which still does not make any sense. The correct sentence should say it is their book "Det är dess bock". This is not the first time I have noticed errors in the languages that I am learning on Duolingo. I wonder who does the quality control. I am a professional translator and it is not acceptable to teach incorrect words and sentences to people who are just starting to learn a new language. Therefore, I can only recommend to purchase a dictionary in the language that one is learning and to look up every word that is not understood. Good luck!


You are wrong, sorry. There are some examples in this thread of how this sentence can look in context. Also, you meant *altogether.


Did you mean those are their books?


"These books belong to the library. They are its books."


Obviously this exercise has stirred a lot of comments and suggestions. However, whilst technically an institution is referred to as "it", the sentence on its own "they are its books" is not commonly used colloquially by native English speakers. If the need did arise for such a phrase, I would suggest that instead of they, "those" would be used more commonly.


I'm not necessarily arguing that the sentence is a good fit for the course. :)


Det är deras böcker heter det ,inte dess böcker


dess is the third-person singular possessive pronoun. The sentence is perfectly fine Swedish.


"They are its books" – doesn't make sense at all.


Sure it does. Please see other comments on this.


No, really are there native English speakers? Do you say "they are its books"? It may be applicable in a limited context but it's not common and not appropriate for beginner's level. Even if it literally sounds like that being translated in English you should either adopt the example or choose another one. It sounds like Google Translator is talking, not a real human.


It has been noted in this thread both that it's a bad fit for the course and that it cannot be removed from the current version because of bugs.


very handy sentence for everyday conversation


What is the problem of all those who criticise this sentence? It has been explained again and again that this is a perfectly normal sentence.

For instance: Those are the books of (whatever) public institution, association, library...

Perhaps, in English one would prefer "those are their books", but obviously, in Swedish one uses "dess" (just like in German "dessen"): "Es sind dessen Bücher."


The sentence is not even translatable in Dutch. 'Het zijn hets boeken' does not compute. But maybe if so many people have troubles with the logic of this sentence Duo should reconsider. 150+ comments is really a lot.


"Het zijn zijn boeken", right? Referring to a "bibliotheek", for instance. Swedish distinguishes between "hans, hennes, dens, dess, deras", something that Dutch does not. In German, you would normally say "es sind seine Bücher", too (like in Dutch, when referring to an "Institut", for example). But you can also say "es sind dessen Bücher" (die Bücher des Instituts).

In my opinion, it is good that we are faced with such a Swedish sentence because it shows us what is possible in Swedish and gives stuff for discussions.

Why take away such a sentence that one could hear in everyday life in Sweden?


Doesn't make sense


Doesn't make sense to me?


Does not sound correct to a person who speaks English.


This is not grammatically correct


Provided, you mean the Swedish sentence (and not the translation): Of course, it is! Think Swedish, not English.


Very ugly sentence should be removed


I disagree. Perfectly normal sentence (unless the English translation sounds weird to you, maybe...). Why remove something that is really used - in fact, good to learn such sentences!


Something wrong here


Det is wrong. Must be De...they


No, it isn't! Languages have different rules. In German, one also uses the neutrum singular pronoun instead of the equivalent of "they". Same goes for French, by the way.


It is a wierd sentence


This translation is incorrect English. He can own books or she can, but not it. If you want to say the books belong to a non-gendered entity i.e., a library, you would say they are the library’s books.


Of course, there are circumstances when you can say this. Just imagine a movie title, something like: "A house and its books", "A forest and its secrets". No doubt, such movie titles are perfectly possible.

I did some more research, haha: Look here: https://hudsonvalleyone.com/2015/02/27/adventures-of-a-house-and-its-books/

Title: "Adventures of a House and Its Books"

One needs to open up one's mind and then one will see that in some scenarios sentences such as "those are its books" are plausible.

Another example, look here: https://books.google.de/books?id=7eE1CwAAQBAJ&pg=PT6&dq=%22those+are+its+windows%22&hl=de&newbks=1&newbks_redir=1&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjbvIncypX0AhX7hP0HHZ4lCtgQ6AF6BAgDEAI

Quote: "I passed through that long corridor—those are its windows, to the west— That I might leave it at her door,— and saw her cross her threshold, drest. No lamps were lit,—the twilight shed a grey mist on her shiny head."

You see: Those are its windows! If "those are its windows" works, then "those are its books" should work, too, don't you think?

And whatever: The original sentence is Swedish and alright in Swedish.


Perhaps but in normal every day speech people may look at you askance.


Even if that happened when speaking English (though I named you circumstances where it is okay), the Swedish sentence is what we have to learn and that one is fine.


Sorry I am an independent thinker so disagree with your view, I hope we can agree to differ.


So you disagree to the usefulness of the Swedish sentence (not the translation), too? - Sorry, but this does not seem to make sense, because the Swedish sentence is a regular sentence. By the way, it can be expressed the exact same way in German. - So whatever, let's disagree...


@Simon117696 There is no "reply button" any more, so I answer here to your recent question: Of course, you can say "Es sind seine (or: dessen) Bücher." in German, in the various examples I gave in this thread.

Just think about an organisation, institute, club etc... Someone talks about that famous club, another person sees books lying around and asks: "What are all these books?" and you answer: "Es sind seine Bücher." (those of the club).


This is non sense. It must be : that's are their books


These are their books should be the translation


No, dess cannot be "their".


This must be a "De" at the beginning!


Nope, Swedish generally prefers the general "it" - det, even here.


DE är dess böcker


No, det is much better. Swedish defaults to the general "it" so often that most natives will do so whenever possible.


There is no they THIS IS HUGE MISTAKE!!!


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.


This does not make sense.


Please have a look at the other comments.


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.


Det är dess böcker. They are his books.


No, dess is never used for people - only for "its".


This is not a realistic sentence. Neutral things don't have possessions


Well, that sucks. I have bought a lot of things for my company. I wonder who owns those, then. :)


Haha... Imagine a house, imagine the rooms! Now would it be so challenging, so weird to say: "These are its rooms."? - Or someone might write a novel or publish a movie: "A house and its books" or "A house and its secrets".

Now to everyone... See how much sense it makes!

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