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"Wait, But It Told Me That's How You Say That!"

Has anyone else ever run into this? You're not entirely sure how to say something, so you glance at the translations and throw the words together. It's technically correct by the words they gave you, but what the answer it was looking for wasn't even one of the words shown in the translations when you peek.

Am I the only one who is extremely confused as to why translations that are literally given verbatim are wrong? I understand that it isn't the point of learning, but when trying to learn something new for the first time, understanding the literal and then how it changes depending on the subject matter would seem important. Am I just crazy?

August 2, 2013



I think the answer is not to take the vocabulary hints too seriously. They provide a starting point (a strange one in some cases) but you learn more from the exercise sentences. Which means that you learn by being wrong and then being corrected.


Sometimes the hints are not even a strange starting point; sometimes they are simply incorrect for the case at hand. A key element in the reduction of Duo-induced frustration is heavy use of one's own dictionary, whether it be online, an app, or old skool paper.


What rspreng said has been my experience and what I meant when I started the discussion, I should have clarified more. Sometimes they're entirely different. I remember on the mobile app (if you use it), there's a part where you select words and put them in the right order and I was marked wrong. The correct translation didn't have the word I was told I got wrong even as an option, but I learned later was related to it because of the context of the sentence.

I plan on making some handy dandy flashcards on the subjects that continue to elude me, but it seems strange to mark wrong literally what the program said the translation was. Maybe a "Correct, but the proper way of saying it is this: ". That way, you know what you got right is technically right, but there's a different way it's actually said in context.


Think of the hints as similar to quick peek into a dictionary, they give you the translation of each words in a language you already know, but you have to arrange the pieces yourself to understand the big picture and then you had to reinterpret the sentence in the language that you know to prove to the system that you understand the meaning and subtleties of the sentence, which is more than just being able to substitute word to word. Given this way, it does not make sense to allow "technically right" translations that are too literal.

> The correct translation didn't have the word I was told I got wrong even as an option

In some cases, the hints or the answers aren't perfect. Report them when you think something is amiss with the hint.


Problems arise, especially for beginners, when they see 'como' and the dropdown says it can mean "how" and "I eat." As a beginner I figured all the options were correct, and likely in descending order of 'correctness,' but such is not the case. Does Duo ever provide any guidance, instruction, or information on this sort of thing?

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