"El teléfono no sirve."

Translation:The phone does not work.

January 1, 2013



Are they trying to kill the owl with sentences like these or what?

January 14, 2013


No. They are trying to teach you the importance of equivalencies.

In English there are many words and phrases we would have a hard time explaining to someone learning the language but are immediately understandable if we can find out how they say it in their language. This is an easy one.

When asked what it means: The phone doesn't serve (its purpose). Or it's out of order. Or not in service (at this time). Or it's broken. Our answer might very well be "no sirve".

October 16, 2013


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.

April 24, 2014


Wow. Muy interesante. Gracias por su explicación.

January 29, 2015


De Nada.

January 29, 2015


si, muy interesante

October 4, 2016


Bien espanol mi amigo!

July 18, 2017


Very interesting and informative! English has more specific words, yes, but in my opinion it is really valuable to say specifically and exactly what you mean. With the words tough and hard, they have slightly different meanings. I wonder what significance this has for the differences between spanish and english poetry. Interesting thought.

May 29, 2015


The translation for "duro" has many variations in English, and that matters not at all. "Duro" covers them all. When one is thinking in Spanish what all the different English variations of the word mean is not a consideration. All that is important is the essential meaning of ",duro" which has to do with idea of something being durable, firm, and largely fixed. Even harsh. And more or less permanently. Like a rock! Such as a stern look. So rather than being concerned about the many possible English translations for "duro" it is better to understand just how Spanish utilizes the word, "duro," its applications. And when I come into a Comment room I always hope to see that kind of information. But what do I see? Most commonly Comments are filled with discussion about English. Augh! I would tear my long hair out if I didn't value it as much as I do.

May 29, 2015


Lo siento si se molesté a usted.

May 30, 2015


Te quiero.

May 30, 2015


I have wondered about the difference in poetry, myself. And I was thinking that due to the but few ending sounds of Spanish words and the near infinite ending sounds of English words, English poetry must be the far superior as far as rhyming poetry is concerned at least. Well, maybe there's not that many different ending sounds in English words, but it is vastly more than what Spanish has.

May 30, 2015


Gracias! Yo se por que mi amigo dice ingles es dificil.

August 16, 2016


Sí, es.

Y, porque = "because."

August 16, 2016


What is 'se' and 'dice' in this sentence?

July 11, 2017


"Yo se" means "I know". "Se" is first person singular conjugation for "saber." "Dice" (pronounced dee-say) means "says," third person singular conjugation. Don't forget you can copy a sentence and paste it into a translation site like Google Translate, and it will translate for you. :)

July 12, 2017


In this sentence, the word "se" can be translates as the impersonal "one" "One says...' Or as "they say."

"se" also is used for the passive voice -- "It is said...."

It can also be used as "it": "Se puede ser usado como "it".

One shouldn't confuse "se" (sin acento) with "sé ", (as dwheatl above did). "Sé (con acento) means "I know."

These articles explain "se" (but not "sé "):


http://www.123teachme.com/learn_spanish/passive_voice_2 https://www.spanishdict.com/guide/impersonal-se-vs-passive-se




February 26, 2018


In Dajon's sentence, "se" is a typo because it needs an accent mark and should be sé, meaning "I know".

August 16, 2019


An excellent contribution. Gracias!

February 13, 2017


Holy cangrejo!

July 18, 2017


Your explanation is valuable

May 9, 2018


EugeneTiffany: Great comment. In other places, I have tried to express the same thing, but you have done it better. I'm saving this so to use it again as the topic comes up.

February 26, 2018


Or maybe english is more descriptive

March 18, 2018


Well, English has a more extensive vocabulary than any other language and overall, across the board, (though maybe not in specific instances) is capable of expressing nuances in meaning that other languages simply cannot. EugeneTiffany touts 'duro' as encapsulating all the different meanings that could be subsumed in it in English. That's all well and good but if you were translating sentences containing these various meanings into Spanish, what word could you use in Spanish... just 'duro; all shades of meaning lost, or at least blunted. (I should add, however, that one thing that I believe modern English sadly lacks is a dual form for 'you').

January 19, 2019


A good, simple explanation of both the words usage and Duolingo's method. Gracias!

February 13, 2017


Well said and Thank you

June 22, 2017


I thought that meant it is useless

August 25, 2015


The phone does not work would be funciona, not sirve.

July 18, 2013


I agree - funciona is the word I would have used to say it doesn't work. I haven't seen the verb server used in that context.

February 25, 2015


Servir, at least the way I learned in school, means to serve a function, meaning works.

July 15, 2015


A phone can be out-of-service which is a differnt matter than being non-functional, i.e., broken.

February 14, 2017


this translation is correct. i hear sirve used this way often. you have to get over the idea of an exact direct translation.. in many cases it doesnt work that way.. duo lingo is right on this one.

February 25, 2014


Would "El teléfono no trabaja" be wrong?

July 10, 2013


Una persona no trabaja, un teléfono no sirve.

July 18, 2014


i do not think so

May 10, 2016


although I got it right, "work" was nowhere to be found as a translation for "sirve" - please correct that.

January 26, 2013


I think there should be soms way to mark something as wrong/incomplete/confusing (I'm often confused by the translation hints) and I give wrong answers. So there should be some way for us to give feedback.

January 30, 2013


You could click "other" and complain there.

January 24, 2014


First I memorized the meaning of no sirve as "doesn't serve" (its purpose). Then I came across an explanation on the difference between "no funciona" and "no sirve" that said they mean "doesn't work" and "isn't any good", respectively. (If I remember well, I read this on duolingo somewhere, but I'm not sure.) Now this lesson made me totally confused. Googled it and found various explanations. The majority says that no sirve can mean that it does not work at all; and also can mean that it works, but not that well. Other hits: badly designed, not really useful.

December 13, 2014


I think that the meaning is "The telephone is not suitable for this purpose". In English you could also say that it "doesn't work" in context to give the same meaning, but to say that it "doesn't work" with no context implies that it is broken.

June 24, 2013


Or "The telephone does not serve it's purpose." Yes? Like some other people here, due to my technical training, background and education I tend to think that "functiona" would be a better way in the Spanish language than "sirve". However, given the fact that not all people are technically oriented "sirve" would also convey the same concept via the written and spoken language of both Spanish and English. In other words I can understand how the use of both words can be considered completely acceptable in order to actualize the thought.

March 13, 2014


the telephone is not in service

February 19, 2016


Can "no funciona" work here also?

April 19, 2016



April 19, 2016


"the telephone is out of order". Why it is wrong????

May 3, 2016


Duolingo is looking for a translation that is as close to literal as possible. 'The telephone is out of order' would be 'el telefono esta fuera de orden', or something like that.

May 3, 2016


Τhank you for the clarification.

May 4, 2016


I wrote "The phone is not in use" and it was rejected.
They accept:
• The phone isn't in service.
• The phone does not work.

Why not "in use"?

May 25, 2014


If the phone does not work, it cannot be used. Even if it were usable, though, it's only "in use" when someone is speaking on it.

July 18, 2014


Could this have been translated as "The telephone is useless"?

July 20, 2014


No, your answer is wrong. But "The phone is unusable," should be accepted.

February 15, 2017


Of course, I knew "The phone does not work" is the what an English would say, I can never be sure Duolingo follows colloquial English.

August 28, 2014


In the early days Duolingo said it does not use colloquialism, though I have seen it

July 19, 2017


The telephone is broken

February 28, 2015


sirve < servir, "serve"

May 1, 2015


The phone is not useable. (Accepted?) It should be...

July 11, 2015


Why not "the phone is useless"?

December 30, 2015


Useless means something different. But "The phone is unusable," should be accepted.

February 15, 2017


I am in Spanish class right now and I was taught that to work was trabajar. I am confused as to why it says sirve. Does that mean to serve and they just aren't looking for the literal translation?

September 5, 2016


Trabajar means 'to work', as in 'to labor' - it refers to something a person does. Servir means 'to serve', and I think that also means something that a person does, as opposed to what an inanimate object (such as a telephone) does. I don't agree with Duolingo's use of the words in the sentence, and in my opinion the correct translation for a telephone that is not operable, or out of order is "El telefono no functiona".

September 5, 2016


Did anyone else notice the "exasperation mark" (as I call it in this case) in the "sirve" translations? That half-way made my day

December 11, 2016


the phone does not work!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

January 25, 2017


The phone is a piece of you-know-what!

July 19, 2017


I put the "The cell does not work." It counted it wrong. Im triggered. The press needs to hear this.

March 30, 2017


Isn't sirve a form of servir which means to serve?

June 5, 2017


Question: does "servir" mean "to work" as in "to function", or can it also mean "to work" as in hold a job?

June 8, 2013


It's closer to "function," but even that isn't quite right, it seems. 'Trabajar' is your go-to verb for your second meaning of "to work." 'Servir' in this case is more like "work for this purpose" or "serve us [for this]" if that makes any sense.

March 13, 2014


I said "out of order" instead of "out of service" and was marked wrong. Whoops! :-?

March 2, 2014


Why is the answer " the telephone is useless" wrong

September 28, 2014


Useless means something different. But "The phone is unusable," should be accepted.

February 15, 2017


Yo habla por teléfono con mi hermana y le dije , "El telefono no sirve."

October 22, 2014


Where is can't used and where is does'nt used

January 11, 2015


How to use sirve for 'work' n 'serve'?

August 11, 2015


the telephone has no service is a fine translation

February 1, 2017


Why not 'no functiona

April 4, 2017


DUOLINGO is trying to teach something here. In this case, the word, SIRVE.

July 19, 2017



April 27, 2017


Lazy phone!

May 17, 2017


the telephone is out of order ought to be accepted!

August 21, 2017


then how am i using my phone?

October 26, 2017


I translated as the telephone has no service. Would this still be correct?

November 17, 2017


Why is it wrong to say it's broken?

November 29, 2017


New male native speaker, talks so fast words are untelligible. Also slow mode with male speaker does not work at all, only fast

December 29, 2017


What is wrong with, "el telefono no obra"

May 11, 2018
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