Translation:The examination takes a few minutes.
The first, based on another sentence where it was very clear that wenige means "few" (as in not many), instead of "a few" (as in, 'some').
So perhaps a better translation would be, "The examination takes but a few minutes." or "The examination takes only a few minutes."
"is taking" implies currently on going. At this point it could take a few minutes it or a few hours, you can't really know.
A better sentence would be "The examination is taking a while" or "the examination is taking a long time." Both imply that it is taking longer than usual.
To use "a few minutes", these would be your options:
"The examination takes a few minutes." - this is a general statement about how long the exam takes and is probably the source of the confusion. This is a distinction English makes that German apparently does not. Its like "the man eats apples" vs "the man is eating apples" both are "Der Mann isst Äpfel" in German, but mean two different things in English. The first is a general statement about the man meaning that he is willing to, and sometimes does, eat apples. The second is saying that he is currently eating apples.
"The examination will take a few minutes." - the exam hasn't happened yet.
"The examination took a few minutes." - the exam has finished
"The examination has taken a few minutes already." - the exam is currently happening.
The use of the present continuous tense indicates that the examination is in progress and not yet complete, and so the speaker is not in a position to say how long it will take when completed, as is required by the German sentence.
If the speaker only wants to say that it has taken a few minutes so far then the present perfect tense would be used, as in "The examination has taken a few minutes (so far)".
I think that the accepted translation doesn't reflect the meaning of the original phrase because of the distinction between "few" and "a few".
In the German phrase, imagine a medic saying "Die Untersuchung dauert wenige Minuten." What he means is "It won't last long". The closest translation would be "The examination lasts only a few minutes".
The accepted translation shifts the meaning. The patient expects the examination to be very fast, but the medic warns him that it will "take a few minutes".
I was also confused by this example and I think you are right and that this translation is not good. Given the similar example I had before I think that this sentence means few and NOT a few
Sakasiru's example from another thread:
They have few books. = Sie haben wenige Bücher.
They have a few books. = Sie haben einige Bücher.
On the "a few" versus "few" argument;-
“Wenig” is the adjective meaning “little”. When an “e” is added, it will either have a noun following it, or it will become a PRONOUN; that is, it will stand in place a noun. Take the conversation:- Q: Would you like some grapes? A: Yes please, I’ll have a few. Of course, here “a few” means “ a few grapes” i.e. “a low number of grapes”.
“A few” is, in fact, the most efficient and most common way of expressing this concept if the noun is countable. If it is not countable, it will translate as “a little”. So we have here “wenige” = “a few” for countable nouns, or “a little” for uncountable nouns. No matter how many examples you look at, this is how you would translate “wenige” into English, whether it is followed by a noun, or not. So DL’s translation, “the examination takes a few minutes” is, I believe, 100% correct!
In English "few" and "a few" have a different connotation. "He had few friends at school," would imply a rather sad social life, whereas "He had a few friends at school" would imply a happier situation. I am happy to accept that wenige can mean either in German but find it hard to know how to distinguish in some situations when I am translating. I have previously always used "ein paar" for "a few".
What on earth is the difference between:
"The investigation takes a few minutes." (accepted)
"The investigation will take a few minutes" (not accepted)
I refuse to put in any answer accept the 'not accepted' one. So I guess I'm not going to make any more progress on Duolingo...
What on earth is the difference
The tense. Present tense vs. future tense.
Since I'm pretty sure you know, that Germans tend to use present tense to talk about future events, you probably assumed that translating this German present tense sentence into an English will future sentence is perfectly correct.
In the given context it feels like it's a general statement about a specific kind of examination and not about a single upcoming one. But I have to admit that I'm also not entirely convinced that the future tense version should be considered wrong just because it might be less likely.
In both English and German the future and present tenses are interchangeable as long as the context is clear. The rule is simply: "if the present tense does not mislead the listener, then there's no point in using the future. Here, the difference between present and future tense is trivial and so nobody is mislead......so why not use the present: it's slightly more efficient! In this case though, the reason for Duo's answer is simply that the German is in the present tense, so it expects the English to be.
"The investigation lasts for few minutes." is what I wrote and it was wrong. Not sure if because of the English or what but I just had a hard time learning the difference between English "a few" and "few" and here everything I have learnt is thrown straight into a dumpster? Not a fan. (Reported.)
///Edit: I think it's English. I don't think one can say "few Minutes" without an article... so I think it still means "wenige" here but it's just the English grammar confusing us all. Google Translator said "Es dauert einige Minuten." would be "It will take a few Minutes."
The main contention here with most people is between 'The examination takes a few minutes' and ' The examination takes few minutes.' Never mind the facts that 'a few' means more than 'few' what I need to know is this. Since the literal translation is 'The examination takes few minutes' how are we - the students - to know which version DL is actually expecting us to use, considering the word 'a' is not in the literal translation? I don't mind that including the 'a' is the correct answer according to DL in this particular instance, I just need to know what are the clues that point to that as THE correct answer rather than just the literal translation which does not include the word 'a' in it?
As a native speaker I find "The examination takes few minutes" very ugly but the more correct translation.
I have few examples to convince you, but this sentence is one.
If I said "I have a few examples" the meaning is changed.
The difference is between not having many and having some.
For some people it takes few minutes for the subtle twists of the english language to set in, for others it takes more time, if at all.
Not casting nasturtiums, it's just another example. And I do mean aspersions.
I think that if one were to say to a German that the exam 'takes 3 minutes', it would be expected that the exam would take precisely 3 minutes. Even in Amer. English (I am native speaker), 'a few minutes' may be understood as '3 or 4 minutes, or maybe 10 minutes'- in other words, as a short but not fully defined length of time. Comments from native German speakers would be interesting, to see if the same applies in their culture. :-)