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The maharaji is giving his elephant to the new zoo. What is his son giving? "The boy is giving his tiger." In this case the object (direct) is the tiger. But we are most used to having tiger as an indirect object: The boy gives his tiger milk every morning. In this case milk is the object, and tiger is the indirect object. (i.e. can also be written as The boy gives milk to his tiger every morning.")
I understand your frustration, but there's another way of looking at it. If we can understand nonsense sentences like "The bee reads the newspaper," it gives us confidence that we actually understand the words and grammar, and that we aren't just guessing from the context.
This sentence is worse than your example, though, as it leads to misunderstanding of the phrase. People can read the English as "The boy gives his tiger [something]" or as "the boy gives his tiger [to somone]", but only the second reading is a correct translation of the Portuguese.
Plus, you can read the newspaper every day, but once you give away your tiger, you can't do it again, so the verb tense is wrong.
I can't think of a situation in which "The boy gives his tiger" could be used in place of the boy gives his tiger SOMETHING. For example, What does the boy give milk to? It doesn't work for me to say "The boy gives his tiger," although you could say "To his tiger," or "The boy gives IT to his tiger." I agree that the tense is problematic, but in Portuguese the simple present is often used instead of the progressive. So an answer to "What is the boy giving to the zoo?" could be "The boy is giving his tiger" which I believe is an acceptable translation for the Portuguese, "O menino dá seu tigre."
The problem for me is not the original Portuguese sentence, but rather the way it is translated in English. But there are quite a few English translations that I am not entirely comfortable with in the Portuguese Duolinguo. Sometimes I think it's just those playful Brazilians messin' with us!
A) Look at this thread. Plenty of people have clearly made that mistake, regardless of whether you understand why or not
B) Your example is completely made up and equally impossible. You cannot drop the pronoun in English. You either say the full sentence or just a noun phrase. Neither "the boy gives his tiger" or "the boy gives to his tiger" is a valid English sentence. Both are incomplete. Both are "fragments". Fragments are often ambiguous, and therefore a bad idea in language courses.
Imagination aside, these sentences by themselves seem meaningless (at least without any other context). "Seu tigre" is a direct object in this sentence, so it would seem the boy is "giving" or "donating" his tiger (toy or not) ... but to what or whom? It always makes one feel as if one is missing something ...
It's not "the tiger" it's "his/her/your/etc tiger". If you are only concerned with the English sentence then, although it is difficult to defend, I think it could make sense with more context. As pointed out above, one use of the word "give" is the giving to charity sense. It could be stretching English grammar a little, but the following is entirely understandable: "Each child donates one of their toys to poor Maria. The girl gives her doll. The boy gives his tiger".
Thanks. That makes sense, although even there it remains pretty awkward. I think in English a more typical usage would be "a/an" -- "Each child donates a stuffed animal to Maria. The girl gives an elephant. The boy gives a tiger."
I think you've mostly answered the intent of my question; so far the awkward/odd sentences I've enountered have been idiomatic ("Eu sou uma formiga"), so I was wondering if that held here as well.
But let me ask it slightly differently: is this sentence similarly awkward in Portugeuese? Or, for people familiar with and thinking in Portuguese, would "O menino dá seu tigre" be a natural construction (when compared to "O menino dá um tigre")?
(And thanks for correcting my substitution of "the" for "your" -- yep, I'm definitely still a beginner. :)
My Portuguese is not good enough to answer you with any authority. Looking at the other comments, though, I notice that native speaker Paulenrique suggests some alternatives to make the meaning clearer: "doa" rather than dá" (to change "gives" to "donates"), add "embora" (to make it "give away") or add "ás vítimas" (to make it "gives to the victims"), so I guess it is awkward in Portuguese too. Portuguese does allow for hidden objects, though, and that's probably the cause of the confusion.
In fact, "seu" can mean a lot of things: "his/her/your/their". You can write "His car" as "Seu carro" but you can't blame someone for understanding that as "Your car". That's where "dele" helps, if you write "O carro dele" you get the unique translation "His car". This trick isn't always needed and often context helps to sort out what "seu" means.
In many languages in Europe, it is a mark of respect to refer to someone in the third person., using the same verbs as he/she/it.
Waiters in expensive restaurants in the UK may ask "Is Sir enjoying his meal?" and when addressing the Queen you are traditionally expected to say "Your majesty is welcome to this town."
The Portuguese "seu" is "his"/"her", but for politeness is extended to "your".
'Give' is ditransitive in English, which means it requires a direct and an indirect object. How does 'dar' work in Portuguese?
If it is the same as English, then I would suggest that the sentence be replaced by one with two objects. Although I do take the point mentioned previously that translating nonsense sentences makes it harder to guess and arrive at the correct answer.
I appreciate learning "ditransitive" here, but my understanding is while certain verbs can be ditransitive, that does not require them to be so.
She asks us to donate to the cause. The boy gives his tiger.
Maybe this is part of a sneak peek of, "The Life of Pi" for the alternative kids' version.