I'm afraid this question may be viewed as primarily opinion-based but keeping in mind all the marvellous teachers in this community, many of whom I know to be active in the Duolingo forums or Facebook group, I think there's hope for factual, objective answers.

I am wondering whether there are some repeating error patterns (misuses of words, overuse of certain grammatical structures, etc.) that can be traced to be common to people who learn the language in that specific course. This is in no way meant to be a critique of the course in any way, more like a question on what to pay extra attention to, finding my way through it myself. I know there are things the Duolingo method itself makes hard to transmit directly.

One misconception I know I had (and one that I have seen in others, too) was thinking that -u is only to be used in imperative (including "let's") or questions ("shall we") or subordinate clauses, which caused me to be misled in this old comment, for example. So I'm looking for other things that the experienced speakers often find themselves correcting in others, if any generalizations in this direction can be made.

3 Answers 3


The two things that spring to my mind are:

  • The overuse of stative verbs, e.g. li altas vs li estas alta.
  • The use of certain affixes as independent words, e.g. ope.

An argument can be made in favor of both of these, but the way they're presented in the course, learners can get the idea these are the customary or even the preferred way to express these ideas.

I've also seen quite a few comments along the lines of:

  • Mi finis la arbo.

I know Duolingo teaches the accusative, but given how common this mistake is among new tree-finishers, one might ask whether it could be presented better.

  • Just what I am looking for! Yes, it's true that Duolingo often displays the stative verb as "another correct solution", which reinforces the users in trying to experiment with using more of it (and getting that accepted). Unfortunately it seems, by design, the system only can distinguish between what's "wrong" and "not wrong" and doesn't have any way of telling users which alternative is better. Great observations! If you think of any more in the future I'd be very happy if you put them here as well.
    – La Vo-o
    Commented Dec 9, 2016 at 13:04
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    Regarding the latter – Duolingo is fairly strict about rejecting sentences omitting the accusative (it's actually my favourite feature that single-letter typos are often forgiven but not if they actually form a word that would be incorrect). I would guess "mi finis la arbo" is a result of the immediate excitement about the fact :-)
    – La Vo-o
    Commented Dec 9, 2016 at 13:06
  • It's more than that. The course actively teaches that "adjectives are easily transformed into verbs" and that this form is "frequently used." (See tips and notes for the adjective module.) I've encountered many people on the Duolingo forum who from this have gotten the impression that not only is it sometimes possible for special effect, but that this is the default way to do it. I have discussed this with a few of the team members and my impression at this point is that all this is intentional. As for the use of the accusative, if people fail to learn it when it's presented one way ... Commented Dec 9, 2016 at 13:37
  • @TomasoAlexander Dropping redundant accusative use was also an observation in a study of native speakers.. seems kind of like high German being school taught language and incapable of dropping redundant pronouns, while turkish drops them based on very similar verb conjugation. Perhaps all non-creoled languages need more formal learning or get 'corrected' in immersion?
    – user68
    Commented Dec 9, 2016 at 21:51
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    As a member of the Duolingo team I can inform you that in the new tree stative verbs will no longer be taught in this way. Apart from a few very common and traditional ones, they will only be introduced towards the very end of the tree. Commented Dec 27, 2016 at 22:55

Probably using more shorter words than putting them together. Not that I've really noticed that but I don't think Duolingo really shows a lot of the ways you can combine words together. I doubt you'd see tiunokte instead of En/dum tiu nokto.

  • 2
    This, of course, is due to the fact that the Duolingo system counts compound words as new vocabulary. This means that the course creators have to make a decision on whether to teach new roots or whether to demonstrate old roots in new combinations. So, if we know that learners at a certain point know danci and ejo - there's no way to quiz them on dancejo without adding that word to the course, which would require cutting something from somewhere else. Commented Dec 9, 2016 at 12:28
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    I found this very noticeable when starting "Gerda Malaperis" after doing the duolingo course: Piron uses many more compounds, and uses them more elegantly, than duolingo had prepared me for.
    – conor
    Commented Dec 9, 2016 at 15:24

I most frequently see the failure to grasp the accusative, even for the most frequent usage of marking direct objects.

Sometimes inappropriate verb forms, like "mi estas iras" modeling English "I am going".

Then there are some nuanced things, like "Mi finis la arbon" instead of "Mi finstudis/finlernis la arbon"

As an introductory course, I don't think it's a problem that the focus is on simpler words rather than a range of compounds.

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