But "can" means if you are physically able to do something, and "must" means that you need to do something, right? I have never heard of this, so please tell me if I am wrong.
This one's come up before. In this context "have to" and "need to" are the same thing.
Totally agree. I've said need many times before and Duolingo says it's wrong.
Why is "que" in the sentence? I need to think of a way to remember it is needed.
Tener/to have ( possess): I have a house/ Tengo una casa
Tener que / have to: I have to have a house/ Tengo que tener una casa
Not really, not like tener que/have to and the similar impersonal hay que/ it is necessary to
que means of course "that" among other things: creo que tengo una teoria/I think (that) I have a theory
Tener que, Hay que http://www.studyspanish.com/lessons/tenque.htm
que between conjugated verb and an infinitive http://www.spanishdict.com/answers/237509/when-to-use-que-between-a-conjugated-verb-form-and-an-infinitive
Cops and police are one and the same, but they are not spelled the same I'm sure... right?
Did it not work? You should report it because slang is used a lot in everyday life.
It's the "personal a". One could say "llama la policía" and it means "the police is calling", and "llama a la policía" this means "call the police".
Yes, it also means that, sometimes we use the present tense the same way as the present progressive, for instance: "Your mom is looking for you" can be translated as, "tu mamá te está buscando" or "tu mamá te busca".
I believe it's the "personal a", but it was explained to me by a native Spanish speaker that this sentence means we have to call a particular police officer. If we had to make a call to the police in general, i.e., the police station, it would be llamar la policía. Duolingo does not agree at all with this.
Some verbs naturally associate with a preposition. When you use a direct object with the Spanish verb llamar, you need the preposition 'a', so it is "llamar a" + person or thing.
It is NOT the personal a, but the preposition required to llamar. So, addressing alezzix below, if "llama la policia" is correct, then la policia must be the subject and not the direct object. This must be part of a question, because normally the subject would come before the verb.
Very good explanation Martin. Here in this sentence the subject is (nosotros = we) although in Spanish we don't need to say nosotros tenemos que llamar a la policía we usually say: tenemos que llamar a la policía. Here "a la policía" is the indirect object.
I put "must" call also and checked with other sources and it is considered correct. Duolingo is a little narrow on these things.
"llamar" traces back to Latin "clamare", which has an English descendent "clamor/clamour", "a lot of noise".
I also thought, hey, "llamar" sounds like English "yammer". My etymology research says, nope, Dutch/German roots, but I don't there this is a coincidence.
How do you say "We have to call to the police"? Is it "tenemos que llamar para a la policía"?
I think it is a subtle difference. "I have to go to school on time or my teacher gets angry", would probably be Tengo que. "I must obey the traffic laws." would probably be "Debo que". But also I would think that you would find when speaking Spanish in a country or with Spanish speakers from specific areas that they would have customary ways of using these two verbs.
could the "llamar" here be pronounced "jamar"? I've noticed some words beginning in with "ll" or "y" take on a "j" sound. I just want to be prepared to hear it multiple ways.