It does indeed sound very natural and it is great that it is an accepted translation. It is probably not the most obvious translation though because there is nothing to suggest "we" in the original sentence. To get that translation I would expect present tense "devemos" rather than past tense "deveram" (which more naturally leads to a translation with "were due"). So I guess this is the royal "we". :-)
Despite how natural it sounds with "we" your suggestion seems more reasonable given the verb is in the third person, but it is still the wrong tense I think. Perhaps "To what did they owe these results" or even "To what had they owed these results" ("deveram" is both past and pluperfect). It could be a true reflexive use, though, so literally "To what did these results owe themselves" which is better written, even if it sounds awkward, as "To what were these results due". At least that's my current thinking.
I tried to take the simple route. "To what do they owe those results." It made good sense to me, but not to the Duo police apparently. I still don't see how any of you are getting 'we' out of this sentence anywhere. I suppose its essentially using the passive voice "to what does one owe these results, but made plural as 'we'.
I agree with Davu.
I found the exact translation from Duolingo in google translate. I have found that when I have difficulty progressing through a level (i.e. remembering a more atypical English translation in Duolingo just to pass the level), I can often refer back to there to not be held back.
I think that "What might be the cause of those results?" should also be accepted, and it kind of sounds more natural to me. I could be wrong though, since English is not my first language.
To be fair, if I were part of the Duolingo staff I'd probably remove this question altogether :p... way too many possible correct answers to take into account.
I still have not been able to figure out why 'To what did we owe those results" is not correct can smeone explain why "deveram" is in the past tense, what would be the meaning if it were in the present tense and how would the sentence above (with "did") be translated into portugues.
Leslie, I just re-read Davu's explanation above that 'deveram' is simple past (third person plural) , so I think that your phrase above should be correct except for the we, which isn't in the original but is a way of speaking in the passive voice. I guess you could say "To what does did one owe the results." which would be the more common English passive voice. I don't know if you have come across this website for Portuguese verb conjugations: http://www.conjuga-me.net/ which I use constantly along with www.wordreference.com/which is a multilingual dictionary. I tend to open a tab for each whenever I am doing languages.
After reading more about the particle "se", this sentence appears to an example of the "se" pronome apassivador - not the "reflexive se".
A que se deveram esses resultados?
What were these results due to?
se deveram -> were due (passive voice)
I just missed this question again on a review, and want to offer my suggestion to see what you all think: "What did they owe those results to." Ignoring the dangling participle it contains the third person plural past tense like the original. I can't make "deveram" into anything but that. No 'we' no present tense...... And while I'm here, can anyone tell me what "Modal" means. I've studied grammar in five languages and have never seen the term before except in music?
Having looked at this a few times, the most literal answer I can come up with is: "To what are those results owed?" which is a passive construction avoiding "we" and "they" (at least that's what I took away from the discussion here: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/2628812 although I'm not sure I've fully grasped the idea yet).
For an overview of what is meant by modal try this Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modal_verb.
Modals are words such as: should, shouldn´t, must, might, could, may, shall, will, can, could etc. They express probability, permission, ability or obligation. but they remain in this base form (i.e cannot be conjugated for different people). I believe that they exist mainly in Germanic languages although I´m not 100% sure.
Thanks HKBK, though it sounds like a combination of conditional and subjunctive. Phrases that express some uncertainty. But It seems like the verbs are being conjugated in most of the answers to the questions, so it is not only one form. And thanks also to Davu for continuing to think about it, as are the rest of us, obviously. I'm fine with your translation below, which is not particularly different from what I came up with. And even manages to avoid the pesky dangled participle. :=}
So I guess that modals are one of those linguistic tools that we all employ without thinking about it, or really understanding why we have said what we have said.
My personal goal is to be able to speak understandable and reasonably accurate Portuguese. I doubt if I will ever get to the point where any of this makes much difference to me. But it is good mental exercise. And any exercise is better than none.