"La madre culpa al hijo."

Translation:The mother blames the son.

January 1, 2013



Because it translates more directly as I gives blame to the son. Just as de el is combined to form "del" for certain phrases, a and el are combined to form "al". It is easier to say than a el hijo - and the "a" is necessary in Spanish to form the sentence correctly. Just because we would not say "blame to the son" in English does not mean that it is not proper in other languages.

February 4, 2013


Sure that's not a "personal a" ?

April 27, 2014


I just noticed disculpa was ex-cuse and culpa is ac-cuse....just like English! !

January 22, 2016


yea so when you say "Excuse me" in english you are saying "do not accuse me" and in spanish "perdoname/discúlpeme" is saying "Do not blame me or i am not to blame". Of course the words do not have these exact meanings when being used, but it is neat to see where they came from.

February 7, 2016


Good spot! Also 'culpa' is like 'culprit'. That helps me remember it.

April 24, 2017


Thanks. I'm sharing that "culpar" reminds me of the English word "inculpate" which basically has the Spanish word in it, and of course, is a verb which means to blame. :)

April 17, 2016


Also like 'culpable'.

September 8, 2016


I was thinking culprit

January 8, 2018


Wow! Interesting observation. Glad i opened the comment section.

June 10, 2017


Culpa is derieved from Culpable

June 23, 2017


And the english word culpable helps

July 23, 2017


That's because they are all from the same Latin root. Latin is one of the foundational languages of English, and is the base of Spanish, French, and Italian. There are a lot of cognates.

September 19, 2017


I agree, it's just the personal a being used.

October 6, 2014


This is not the personal a. The preposition goes with the verb "culpar". Babella, who I believe is a native Spanish speaker, explains in this discussion. https://www.duolingo.com/comment/664721

November 1, 2014



February 22, 2017



English often skirts around a given idea by utilizing many completely different words which have an indirect association of a given idea and occur as facets of it, as it were. Often the core idea does not even have a specific English word and may only be understood by an entire sentence needed to explain it.

Spanish is entirely different. It does not skirt around a given idea by hosting a variety of nuances relative a core idea. Instead, it utilizes the core key word directly and adopts it to all possible situations it applies.

For example, let's take the Spanish word, "duro."

What does duro mean? Duolingo simplies it by using the word, "hard." Whereas in English duro can mean,.hard, tough, harsh, difficult, stiff, severe, hardcore, strong, stale, stern, stubborn, unkind, intensive, adamant, hard-hearted, hard-boiled. Duro means all these total different English words. And they all together, combined, are what duro actual means.

To really understand what duro means at its core beyond the simple idea of its meaning, "hard," it is necessry to crunch all the various possible English translations together in one's mind, then mush them up running them in a blender, as it were, so you get a single flavored soup. Then you will have what the Spanish word means.

Look at the above list. Work out the common idea. You may see that it pertains to.something that cannot be changed. It innately resiststs being alftered in any way. It cannot be transformed. Or effected. And this enduring condition automatically naturally provides a sense of rigidity or firmness. This is what duro means and pertans to. And so the word, duro, can be used in any situation which this fundamental idea concerns. No variety of other words required Duro includes them all.

Many Spanish words work this same way.

English applies a variety of variations on a given theme, Spanish does not, but goes right to the heart of a matter. This is why it is a waste time, energy, and mental power focusing on the many different ways something can be said in English. The focus is best placed on understanding the all encompassing Spanish idea for which there often is no accurate English translation, but only words skirting it

hope this helped

September 29, 2016


I find your insights very helpful, AkiaSim. This has been something I have been trying to wrap my brain around for years. I have been in and out of Spanish classes since middle school, and nothing has ever really seemed to click. Recently I've taken up Spanish again along with a few friends, and the discussions my friends and I have help a lot, but this one comment will seriously fundamentally alter how I go about learning Spanish. Thank you.

March 16, 2017


thank you so much cierra

March 16, 2017



March 16, 2017


You're welcome cierra. I never thought someone would like my comments that much. :)

March 16, 2017


That was really helpful, makes learning a lot easier without antipating trying to interpret which variation of the english word "duro" speaks too.

November 29, 2017


Your comments help me a lot too,Akia

March 19, 2018



February 8, 2017


It has less to do with English "skirting around" anything as it does the fact that languages evolve, especially when foreign words are introduced. For example: the word "cool" in English. People started telling others to "cool down" when they got angry, red, hot and unlikable. Thus "cool" became a word used to describe something that is likable. Now when you look up the word "cool" it says more than the state of having a low temperature. American culture and the flexibility of the language has lead to many alternative definitions. English is a global language used as the standard for maritime, aviation and many other industries by all nations of the world. Imagine how each culture using English affects the definitions of the words. Look at how different Americans speak compared to British or how Mexican natives speak compared to Spanish. As any languages spreads, it's dictionary grows.

January 6, 2018


This one shouldn't be too hard to remember:

culpable, meaning responsible for the offence (and no doubt comes from the same latin root).

November 25, 2014


This is just what I was going to mention. "Culpa" is actually the same as its Latin root, "culpa", meaning "fault". "Culpa" is also used in law in English to mean unintended fault (contrasted with dolus, or intended fault). The term "culpability" originates from "culpa", meaning "worthy or blame or fault".

Reference: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/culpa

July 1, 2015


does it become 'al' because of personal A + el (the) son?

August 19, 2014



September 10, 2014


but isn't child nino and son hijo?

October 21, 2013


Niño is boy or child. Hijo is son or child but implies they are someone's offspring.

May 9, 2014


real quick, if I wanted to write 'the mom blames her son', would it be 'La madre culpe a su hijo'?

February 28, 2013


It would be "la madre culpa a su hijo"

March 31, 2013


"The mother accuses the son." Why is it wrong? (I am not a native English speaker)

April 5, 2015


Accuse is a singular, discrete action, the actual act of confronting someone, where blame is more of a continuous, ongoing state, an emotion, like being mad at someone. And I don't think culpar carries both meanings

April 5, 2015


Acusar is the Spanish word for accuse.

April 10, 2017


No, accuses should be perfectly fine to use. Report it as it should have been correct. Blame & Accuse mean pretty much the same thing.

September 25, 2015


Why did she blame the son?

November 27, 2017


Stretch marks.

June 18, 2018


Can anyone explain why "al hijo" and not "el hijo" is used?

January 1, 2013


It helps to differentiate between the subject and the direct object. The construction of Spanish allows the subject to come before or after the verb, so the "a" keeps everything straight.

January 11, 2013


why did they put al instead of el???

October 23, 2015


Someone made a post on this. Its simply a contraction of "a" and "el"

I cannot give an example (sorry! :-( ) but I know for sure there are many helpful posts on the Internet and that @EugeneTiffany (ET) can help you big time. She has even helped me when I was struggling badly.

November 27, 2015


Because if what's next to the "ir a" is a noun then that noun must be accompanied by the corresponding definite article and the noun. You can also use the contraction "al" instead of "a el" when the noun is masculine. So this could be written as: Ana y yo vamos a ir al bar.

March 16, 2017


Looks like someone in Duo knows the roots of social degradation and is throwing in slight hints.

October 25, 2017


Story of my life.

November 4, 2017


Why is "The mother blames the child" correct when "hijo" is "son," not "child?"

August 18, 2013


What EugeneTiffany said. But people stop being niños at a certain age, because it is a chronological age designation. Hijos come in any age because it refers to their status as somebody's offspring, not their status as very young people.

August 15, 2014


I think you will probally realize that the word for 'son' is hijo and the word for child is also 'hijo' and so is Niño; Niño also means 'boy'; There is not a separate word for 'child' in Spanish. The Spanish language always uses the masculine form when the genders are mixed. In our sentence we did not have a mix of genders, however I believe you can see that when it is sort of generic in meaning, it will take the masculine form.

August 18, 2013


Isn't "niño" the word for "child?"

August 18, 2013


Yes. Niño is "child" or "boy". Niña is girl. There are also the words chico and chica -- I think for slightly older children. Also muchacho and muchacha (I think) are for older children.

There was a DL example of hijo translated as "child" and it surprised me; I had never heard that before anywhere. But when I look it up, "child" is an option for hijo.

I use hijo for "son" only, except for something like "Do you have any children?" = ¿Tienes hijos? (Because, as jfgordy says above, the masculine is used for mixed genders in Spanish and in English, we use "children" generally for this question and not "Do you have any sons or daughters?")

August 18, 2013


Hijo/hijos are child/children in the sense that you are discussing them being somebody's children. In other words, 'offspring'. But we don't say things like “Do you have offspring?" in English. We use the word 'children'. It is children in this sense, not children in a general chronological age sense. So, “Niños" play on a playground (chronological age children) or “Sus/mis hijos" play on the playground (your/my offspring children) play on the playground. Hijos can be any age; they don't stop being somebody's sons/daughters. Niños are within a certain age range.

August 15, 2014


"Niño" can mean can mean "child" when the boy is anybody's son, and "hijo" can mean "child" when it is the parent of the kid doing the talking.

April 27, 2014


Why is 'al' used and not 'el' clear, precise explanation would be much appreciated

Thank you

September 6, 2013


'al' is a contraction of 'a' plus 'el'; In Spanish there is the use of a preposition 'a' between the verb and the direct object in a sentence when the direct object is a person or something that has been personalized, such a pet. This is called the personal 'a' by most people. And the 'a' is not translated into English but it must be there. When you get 'a' and 'el' together they become 'al'. This little prepositions causes a lot of confusion because it is not always used when speaking in general terms ex: No conozco una sola bisabuela (I don't know a single great-grandmother).The main exception to this rule is that certain pronouns, such as alguien and nadie, always require the personal a when used as direct objects, even when they refer to no specific person. Example: No conozco a nadie. I don't know anybody. Sometimess when you see the 'a' it just translates as 'to' or 'at'. and sometimes the verb requires it. Anyway when 'a' gets with 'el' they become 'al':]

September 6, 2013


Thank you very much:D one more thing, when would you use 'al' in a sentence?

September 7, 2013


I'm not sure what you mean exactly. We use al when we have a and el together. The a can be the "personal a" or the preposition (like "to"). The "blend" is NOT optional, as contractions are in English. (Note also that this is el for "the" and not él for "he".)

September 8, 2013


If you literally translate the sentence it': the mother blames at the son' which doesn't make much sense in english, but i think i understand now! 'a' is definitely needed as it is a personal thing and 'el' is 'the' and if you have to have 'a' when it is an person/animal you feel strongly towards it ends up being 'al'?

September 8, 2013


Yes, the "personal a" goes before persons or animals if they are direct objects. I used to think it was only pets, but I've since learned otherwise through knowledgeable DL users.

The whole "personal a" subject is more complicated than that and even drifts into controversy, but let's leave it at that for now. :-)

And, yes, the al is only when the a is followed by el (you can have a la, a las and a los , etc. And the al can also be when the a = "to" (not just the "personal a".

September 8, 2013


So because the personal a is used in this sentence, can it be translated into "...blames her son."?

April 21, 2014


Preposition, more accurately, she's placing blame on the son. Her son would use su, not al.

November 13, 2014


What would "the mother blamed the son" be?

July 12, 2014


La madre culpó al hijo

November 23, 2014


"the mother blames her son" should be accepted

July 14, 2014


That would be "La madre culpa SU hijo."

August 20, 2014


But wouldn't it then be "La madre culpa a su hijo"? Why did you not include the personal a?

May 9, 2016


I did the same thing. At first I thought it was unfair, but the meaning of 'the son' and 'her son' are different. 'The son' could mean it's not necessarily her own child.

October 28, 2014


I have a question. I have come across a phrase before "no es culpia mia" (roughly translated into "it's not my fault) in a Latin American dialect. In this instance, could we also say "the mother faults the child" (as in put the blame on the child-- to fault them of X accident) etc? Or is Duolingo just focusing on Latin American Spanish in a universal sense?

It's fine if it is. I did put blame, and I am not accusing DL of being incorrect. I am just very curious as to how they judge what is being said in terms of the Spanish language and dialects.

I do understand in a sense that it would be confusing for beginners, and almost impossible to consider every phrase from each country's individual dialects, but I do also think that we should be able to add our own Alternate Phrase/Word translations/lists as we find them, especially on the mobile app, as I find using this handy for me. As well as Resource Links for us to store on the app for easy reference.

It would save a lot of hassle and help a lot of people out, in my honest opinion, and I think that id the dictionaries were enabled for online sharing (optional) and enough people added similar (or the same translations), they could also be accepted within the app as a universal translation, instead of having to get DL to add them manually.

March 21, 2016


Wontlookdown, well, I've seen some of the "crowd-sourced" English offered here, and lots of it is not worthy of entering into a dictionary, unfortunately. While we do not need to "speak" formally here in the forum, people from countries all over the world are counting on us to be accurate, or at least say when something is regional, idiomatic, or slang, so they won't be learning to speak incorrectly. One example I remember well was when a "native English speaker" said that the past tense of "pet" (meaning to stroke an animal affectionately) was "pet." To say "I pet a dog yesterday" is WRONG, but that was apparently the way the person had heard it all his life, so he THOUGHT it was correct.

Lots of the more advanced folks give very helpful links, which I open and then send to my email account on my computer, so I can study them "later." (I do not study enough, so I am slow to advance, but I am a "casual-level learner.") I think the forum folks are very generous of their time and thank the ones who still show up and help out the "tree climbers," the ones who have not completed making the learning tree turn gold through level 25! :-)

August 13, 2017


is this where "culprit" comes from?

May 17, 2016


When would you use "al" and when would you use "a la" such as in "a la carte"

September 13, 2016


'al' is used in place of 'a el' which is easier to pronounce. So only use it with masculine nouns.

September 13, 2016


Why does "al" translate to "on the" when I scroll over it? "She blames on the son"? That makes no sense. I've noticed similar things before.

October 26, 2016


Hints are just that, hints. They are not always answers.

October 26, 2016


I'm starting to think someone at Duolingo has some "mommy issues". Whenever the word "culpa" has been used in my lessons it has appeared only in this particular phrase... ???

February 8, 2017


Why blame the child? Why not blame the goat? Or the dog?

March 3, 2017


Typing error

March 6, 2017



March 15, 2017


Where does the "al" come from? Wouldn't it be el?

March 28, 2017


For eating cheese fries

March 29, 2017


So this ''a'' here is not the personal ''a'', one is actually supposed to say ''culpar a alguien'', right - to give blame to someone? And it this were another verb that called for the use of a direct object, would we then say ''a el hijo'' or would we instead merge the ''a'' and ''el'' into ''al'' ? :)

April 12, 2017


Dang it I said "The mother puts the blame on the son."

April 19, 2017


Are we being taught bad parenting?

April 24, 2017


Oh no! This is great parenting! Now I can eat as much candy as I want!

August 16, 2017


Culpa. Culprit

April 24, 2017


oh what a world we live in

April 27, 2017



May 4, 2017


Really mama is not ssmr as mom?

May 11, 2017


When do we use the prepisition "al".

May 14, 2017


I did it

May 26, 2017


Well that's not very motherly...

May 28, 2017


How rude to blame her own son

June 8, 2017


these moms during the past lessons are getting very aggressive

June 23, 2017


This sounds like me

June 23, 2017


"What did I do, Ma? Ma? Ma! WHAT DID I DO!?

August 11, 2017


YoU'rE CrAzY.

November 27, 2017



August 15, 2017


Why is "blames a child" incorrect. Does "al hijo" mean just her child, the child, not any other?

August 20, 2017


Why would a mother blame the child? That's bad parenting.

August 24, 2017


Porque él fuma la marijuana

September 21, 2017


talk about bad parenting.

September 26, 2017


y blame the criminal? hes just a child! lol i need a life

October 3, 2017


Two queries for Spanish speakers: a) As an English translation of the given phrase, why is this wrong? "The mother blames son" b) It makes more sense to this English speaker to think: "The mother assigns blame to the son."

October 8, 2017


all the time here

October 25, 2017



November 13, 2017


Shouldn't it be "el hijo" please can someone explai why not.

December 21, 2017


Shouldn’t it be "el hijo" please can someone explain why it is "al hijo"

December 21, 2017


these questions get me mad because i pressed child and i ended up with the mother blames the XD

December 26, 2017


why is it 'al' hijo, not 'el'?

January 26, 2018



February 10, 2018


why (al) hijo?

February 17, 2018


XD Noice

March 13, 2018


I got it wrong because i didnt press child but it is now easier to remeber culpar means culprit or to blame

May 22, 2018


i get an extra benefit when i do this in the morning without my glasses on. it's hard to see, so i just touch-type my response to hearing it spoken "Lamadre, culpalijo" - good ear-training.

May 26, 2018

[deactivated user]

    I was blamed

    June 5, 2018
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