...what case is "Wasser" in here? I'm guessing that might impact the meaning, to make it "for Water" but there's no article or adjective to indicate, and, having looked it up "Wasser" itself is the same in every case but genitive, which this wouldn't be...
...and/or does "suchen" just take this sort of phrasing, a little more like the English "seeks"?
In addition to the very good advice from az_p, you can also look in the (Wiktionary)[https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/suchen] and find hints/direction in the definition of the verb.
For example, the (entry for danken)[https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/danken#Verb_2] shows "(intransitive, with dative) to thank". And for (gefallen)[https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/gefallen#Verb] we see "(intransitive, with dative) to please; to appeal to".
(Further down is a second definition, where gefallen is shown as the past participle of fallen, which is similar to the English meaning.)
Yeah, that's incorrect. It means "The animal searches on behalf of water", like the water asked the animal to search for something.
Suchen already means "to search for", without needing a preposition. You can also use nach as a preposition and the meaning is the same as far as I know:
Das Tier sucht Wasser = Das Tier sucht nach Wasser
OK, so I'm getting the impression from this example that "nach" is optional here . . . can that be right? Or is it better to think of "suchen" as "to seek," enabling the preposition "for" sort of optional in the English expression of this same thought: "The animal seeks Water." or "The animal looks for water." . . . but you cannot say "the animal looks water."
Substituting word-for-word is not the same as translating or interpreting. Sometimes it works--especially when working with two languages as closely related as German and English--but sometimes it doesn't.
In this case it could, if one chose the right substitutions:
- Das => The
- Tier => Animal
- sucht => seeks
- Wasser. => water.
The first time this lesson came up I put "the animal is looking for water" and Duo marked it wrong. When it came up again at the end of the lesson it switched to the following fill in the blank: " the ___ is looking for water." So it accepts "is looking for" but only if you don't type it in. So inconsistent.