1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Spanish
  4. >
  5. "Ellos habían tratado de come…

"Ellos habían tratado de comer."

Translation:They had tried to eat.

October 31, 2013



i find it odd to translate "tratado de comer" as "tried to eat". "Tratar de hacer algo" is like what your mother would say when you don't want to eat: "Trata de comer!", or when you talk about your brothers who got home hungry and went straight to the kitchen: "Ellos habían tratado de comer."

It seems to me more like something you do right away or like an order. "Tried to eat" would be "Ellos habían intentado comer" (they could be sick, just had a mouth surgery, or stick with a really nasty food).

"Treat", in this sentence, doesn't make much sense either.


I learned that tratar + de + verb = to try to do something

Trato de nadar - I try to swim

El gato trata de dormir - the cat tries to sleep


Estamos en acuerdo.


... Am I crazy, or was the Duo Owl rrrrreeeeaaalllllyyy hungry when he wrote the past perfect module?

Every other sentence uses the verb «comer«!


If you listen to this slowly, it sounds like ellas not ellos. I guess i will have to listen to it both slow and fast from now on.


Duo! Please fix!!

Also, it sounds as if the female speaker pronounces "habían" with emphasis on "an" rather than "i"? Is that how it is pronounced??


If you want a program change of any kind, you have to use the flag icon. Those responsible for that don't come in here.


Well, they SHOULD read comments from time to time. How else will they know what users are saying? I would think they would want to use the comments to improve the program. I realize they can't read all the discussions but wouldn't it be wise on their part to hit some of them? Using the flag icon rarely yields a result. Maybe the staff is too thin and overworked?


I have multiple emails telling me my answer has now been accepted to refute that. But it does take time, and does seem to follow the rule that the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Report and keep reporting. But remember there is also a sort of philosophy issue about some of these issues such that Duo may disagree with your point for whatever reason, either gramatical or pedagogical. But if you think that Duo doesn't respond quickly to error reports, imagine how they would be slowed down by coming in here where there are people with simple grammar and use questions, a lot of jokes and tangential conversations and quite a few people spouting rules that aren't rules. There are too many questions and too many comments a day.


The recorded voices give indistinct pronunciation of "ellos" and "ellas" and "nosotros" and "nosotras" constantly on Duolingo. This is a problem.


Why do you use 'de' and not 'a comer' here?


tratar + de + verb = to try to do something


Here tratado means tried. In another exercise it meant treated. I am confused


It means both. Tratado de = tried to. Tratado = treated.

Example 1: Ella ha tratado de jugar (She has tried to play).

Example 2 : Ella me ha tratado bien (She has treated me well).


Unfortunately many words have multiple disparate meanings. I suspect it is worse to learn English because of that, but certainly not any better.


Actually no, in English most words do not have many disparate meanings. This seems to be a particularly Spanish issue. In English we have odd words which are pronounced the same but are spelt differently e.g. there and their but Spanish has more that it's fair share of them too e,g, a and ha .


We don't have anything that quite compares to some of the idiomatic meanings of a pronomial verb, but we have plenty of words with multiple disparate meanings. My favorite example in English was always the word fair. It is generally divided into two entries. The adjective/adverb with idioms has 31 entries, including 2 obsolete nouns, and the definition of the current noun fair has four.

fair: definition from Dictionary.com: https://www.dictionary.com/browse/fair

But, in trying to think of more examples for you, I came across a new favorite. Point - 91 definitions.

point: definition from Dictionary.com: https://www.dictionary.com/browse/point

And then there's stand with 66 definitions and idioms.

stand: definition from Dictionary.com: https://www.dictionary.com/browse/stand

And there's well and lock and like and level. And there are the words that are related words that are spelled the same but pronounced differently like live/live and read/read. (long vs short vowel sounds). There are actually quite a few more, but actually many are true cognates of Spanish words, so the diversity of meanings is shared and others are partial cognates where only some of the meanings are shared.


Both prepositions and reflexive objects can change the meaning of a verb. For Spanish, this is the best list of verbs that require prepositions that I've seen so far. It's alphabetic by verb.


tratar de + infinitive = to try

tratarse de + infinitive = to be about, to be a question of

tratarse de + object = to be about, deal with



Are both 'habia ido comer' and 'habia tratado de comer' correct in Spanish?


The reader seems to stress the ultimate syllable and not the penultimate here and elsewhere. Is she just reading it wrongly, or is the accent on the 'i´there for another reason, or for no reason at all?


I don't hear it like that. Sounds normal to me.


I played this at slow speed three times to make sure and it definitely said Ellas but I was marked wrong because Duo said the correct answer was Ellos...and it was my last heart! Grrrr!


Yes, me too. Duo please fix!!


Two issues. One, I hear ellos fairly clearly. I do occasionally not notice ellas and get is wrong, but I can always tell when I go back and listen again. Here I would not have. Of course hearing the difference between two words which vary from each other by a single unstressed vowel at normal Spanish speaking speeds can be difficult. As I said, I do often mishear myself, but it does happen a lot less frequently now after having been exposed to hours of Spanish speech. But this particular error won't matter in the "real world" anyway because you are already prepared by conversational context to determine who "they" are. We don't spend much time taking dictation, we interpret on the fly.

The second is that, if you really want to ask Duo to fix something or add a translation, this is not the forum. People are often asking for changes in here, but the requests don't reach the staff tasked with corrections from here. You have to use the other icon. It is quite annoying to enter an issue on that little "other" line, but you can actually enter a decent explanation, although it's harder to proofread than these boxes.


Sorry, please explain what other icon?


After you complete an exercise, there are two icons on the continue dialog box. One looks like a conversation bubble. That gets you into this section which is for user discussion. The other is a little flag. That is for any sort of issue that you want Duo to address like accepting another answer or technical glitches in the program. That's where you report an y problems and suggestions. Depending on the type of question, you completed, you may or may not see a checkbox labeled My answer should have been accepted. But there is always at least a single line to enter text. It allows more text than you would think, but any spell. Check and editing features don't work. But it is the only way Duo is every going to address anything.


Okay, thanks. Yes, I am familiar and use that. I do hope, though, that employees go through the posts to get feedback from users.


Well, having been on Duo for at least 5 years I am pretty confident in saying they don't. Some languages have discussion moderators (I forget what they are called) but I haven't seen one in Spanish. But even they are more to help with grammar issues than technical ones. Spanish is the largest of Duo's programs after English and it has a lot of extra components like the stories which only 4 languages have and the podcasts which I think are even fewer others. And in mid 2018 they added a lot of units and made a couple.of other changes that seemed to signal new blood on staff. But remember that this is a free program. It works so well because users help each other for free. Technical changes take some time, but if they are reported correctly they do happen eventually.


the voice clearly says "ellas" not "ellos"


on the slow yes on the regular it sounds like ellos.


Definitely sounded like "ellas" in slow play.


I have to say, of all the issues of pronunciation on Duo, especially in dictation exercises, are ellos/ellas and nosotros/nosotras. These are "minimal pairs" which vary by only one letter in an unaccented syllable. Additionally both members of the pair translate into English the same. While learning to hear every sound in a sentence is both difficult and important in Spanish, mishearing here won't cause misunderstandings for new speakers. I think they should start dealing with it more like a missing diactitic mark (accent, tilde, etc). Many of the users manage to not find tools to allow them to type properly accented Spanish words, yet they succeed on Duo. To me writing a word without an accent is potentially more confusing than misunderstanding Ellos for Ellas or vice versa


When played slowly, he says "ellas", not "ellos". Please correct it


No one in this discussion can change anything but themselves. You have to use the report button to report program errors.

[deactivated user]

    Does 'había' signify one person, and 'habían' signify two or more? I mean like 'come' meaning one person eats, but 'comemos' meaning multiple people eating....


    All verbs have potentially 5 different forms for each tense (not including either the Vosotros or vos forms which aren't taught on Duo) . In the imperfect, the first person and the third person singular are generally the same form. The endings for each tense depends partly on the infinitive ending, with ar verbs being the most common, and Ir and er verbs sharing most endings. Even irregular verbs mostly mirror these endings.

    The verb haber is only used in all its conjugations as an auxiliary verb for the perfect tense. The full imperfect conjugation is

    Yo había Tú habías Él, ella, usted había Nosotros habíamos Ellos, ellas, ustedes habían

    You used the present tense of comer as an example. It should be noted that comemos is plural, but it is first person plural (we) . The conjugation for comer (a regular er verb) is

    Yo como Tú comes Él, ella, usted come Nosotros comemos Ellos, ellas, ustedes comen

    I would strongly recommend that you get a verb conjugation resource. With 5 persons, 5 simple tenses in the indicative mood, several subjunctive mood tenses and irregular past and present participles, they are an important resource. Spanishdict.com does have complete conjugations for any verb you look up in addition to definitions with examples.

    [deactivated user]

      I mean is 'había' single, and 'habían' plural?


      Why is it necessary to include the "de"?


      It is related to the verb tratar. In any tense you will have tratar de followed by the infinitive. Except for modal verbs like poder or querer , you will find many verbs use various prepositions like a, de or que, before an infinitive. You just have to memorize the combinations. Intentar is actually an exception to that, so another way to say this sentence would be Ellos habían intentado comer.


      It sounded to me like she was saying habien instead of habian.


      I put "the had tried to eat", which is obviously a typo to almost anyone,,,except duo.


      You miss the whole point on Duo. The "anyone" who would know it was a typo would be a human being who would make some human assumptions based on some knowledge of you. They would assume that it was a typo because it makes no sense and they might assume you speak English. But Duo is a computer. Computers don't make assumptions that they are not programmed to make. And proficiency in English cannot be assumed here since many people on Duo are learning a new language from English that they struggle with because there are limited options on Duo. I have seen errors of the same magnitude if not the same error.


      How about they tried to eat. Who says they had tried to eat? Such poor English translations


      They tried to eat would be Ellos trataron de comer. That's the simple past. They have tried to eat would be Ellos han tratado de comer and would indicate one or more attempts in the umspecifed past. They had tried to eat is past perfect. Duo, because it doesn't use context sentences, can confuse people with the past perfect and the future perfect even though they work pretty much the same way in both languages. The past perfect is used to place one event as happening before the other past event which is actually the main topic. So you might say they had tried to eat at the hotel before they left, but breakfast was over. Obviously it might be more helpful if they had the whole concept like that, but they generally prefer more simple sentences to illustrate a tense. So any time you want to say something like I had wanted to go but... or the like this is the tense to use. Duo likes to use a tense for tense translation where possible. It actually works quite well in Spanish for most tenses as they are used quite similarly. The only real difference is because English doesn't have an imperfect tense, so that is somewhat harder to express in English sometimes.


      Sounds like "ellos" in fast version, but listened in slow and it sounds like "ellas." Threw me off.


      I understand. I've had the same problem. But, of all the issues I don't worry about, this may top the list. I don't even worry about listening for Ellos vs ellas or nosotros vs nosotras in Spanish conversation. It would have to be a rather complex situation for it to matter except for theory. The fact of the matter is that the sounds are very close and normal speech variation would make them closer. So while I hate to be dinged when I thought to check, this error is one I can live with both on Duo and in the real world.


      misheard 'ellos' for 'ellas' and got it "wrong". The gender here has no bearing on the syntax or grammar of the exercise and so it shouldn't be marked wrong.

      This is not a dictation exercise!


      When an exercise is spoken, the gender becomes part of the sentence. On Duo we get used to the gender being irrelevant on ellos/ellas and nosotros/nosotras. But in any real life situation only one is correct. So if you actually hear the sentence and transcribe it incorrectly, it is an error. In any real world situation not hearing it correctly might cause you to assume a different group of people for "they". This is exactly a dictation exercise. You are not being tested on your own independent knowledge of grammar and syntax here. They gave you you to the grammar and syntax. Your only job was to hear the Spanish, turn the sounds you heard into the correctly written Spanish sentence. You did not do that.


      But in 'any real life situation' I wouldn't be responding with a computerised voice would I !


      The voices are not computerized voices. How do I know? In the various courses you will hear them misspeak slightly. They will pronounce a vowel a little off or put the emphasis on the wrong syllable. A computer pronounces words consistently the same way. It's generally rather subtle and would not be noticed most people. People make these tiny errors/variations in their speech all the time. Your mind automatically corrects for them in your native language. The reason most people mishear Ellas for Ellos and nosotras for nosotros is that we don't have even those concepts in English for groups of people so we don't listen for them. I have done it quite a lot myself. But it is important to receive and process all the information in the Spanish sentence. Alternatively, you can turn off the listening exercises. For me they are among the most important, as understanding a stream of spoken Spanish, although Duolingo is much easier than the real world. But I have turned off the speaking exercises because I find Duo isn't very accurate there. They both reject my correct answers, occasionally cutting me off, and accept answers where I misspeak and should have been marked wrong. So they don't work for me. If these exercises don't work for you, turn them off. Just don't whine about being marked wrong when you actually were wrong.


      Erm... 'don't whine about being marked wrong', is this type of response really appropriate here? You have quite a nasty attitude. I'm whining am I? Seems like I am raising quite a good point as at least one other person has raised the same issue.

      By referring to a computerised voice I meant that it was coming to me via a machine, my computer – something that, in this respect, I cannot interact with directly. In real life I would have asked for a clarification as to whether the person said 'ellos' or 'ellas'. Either that or further context around the conversation would have made it clear as to which gender was being referred to. For reasons of brevity, I know, we only get one sentence here so you get no context.

      Like many people on Duolingo I just want to finish the tree for the sake of it. I’m rattling through the exercises at great speed. It’s annoying to be slowed down for these trivial reasons.

      Don’t worry, I’ll soon be finished.


      Forgive me. If your goal was simply finishing the tree, I was wrong. I had have climbed that tree so many times before they even came up with the crown system and have reached the highest level in all but the new ones they added a couple of weeks ago. I assumed your goal was to speak and understand Spanish, which takes a little bit more.


      Does anybody know how you say 'passive aggressive' in spanish?


      They need to get rid of either the word had or the word tried in order for the sentense to make sense in English.


      That's not correct. The past tense of the auxiliary verb to have (had) and the past participle of the main verb to try (tried) come together to form the past perfect in English. All the perfect tenses are used pretty much the same way in Spanish and English. Both the past and the future perfect tenses can look strange on Duo, however. They are without context, like most Duo sentences, but it is the missing information that often is what is needed to understand why the past perfect was used. The past perfect is used to place something as having happened previously to whatever you are seeing or talking about in the past. The break had slipped and the car rolled down the hill. They had tried to eat, but the kitchen was closed.



      i had the male voice and i swear it said "ellas"


      in slow. in regular speed it sounds like ellos.



      Sounded a lot like Ellas to me...


      I can hear it clearly when I am listening for it. The problem is that even now, with good high intermediate to advanced Spanish skills, it's not something that I tend to notice or think about. Nosotros/as and ellos/as aren't different in English, and are sort of meaningless to us. It's not like the different forms of you, where we understand automatically even in English that there are different levels of formality used with different people, and that talking to more than one person is different from talking to one person. But there is absolutely nothing in my English mind that tells me that it matters whether "we" or "they" are all women or not. This means it really is more difficult for us to "hear" it. There are a couple of errors of different types put there, but the sound in correct here.


      Duolingo speaker says ellas (slowly) but computer only accepts ellos as a response! Please fix this.


      No one in here can fix anything on Duo. Any sort of error in the program must be reported using either the report button in the exercise or the one below the help file on the website.


      I swear that on the slow listening exercise, they says ellas and not ellos


      In my view, "de comer" is a common mistake in spanish called "dequeismo", I mean, the correct way to translate "...to eat" is "comer" without "de"


      no, in this sentence the "de" is bound to the verb "tratar" you use them together. Yo trato DE aprender. NOT: yo trato aprender. The "de" is necessary.


      Saying that "de" is "bound" to the verb "tratar" is very helpful. It creates an association in my mind that didn't exist when I looked at them as separate words. Thanks. I hope it sticks for me!


      aalzateg is correct. The 'de' goes with tratar, not comer. tratar de = to try to do something


      I agree it is confusing; perhaps it's more understandable with the word "intentado de", it sounds worse than "tratado de"; thanks anyway both


      "intentado de" is wrong instead ;)


      Yes, the correct way would be ellos habian intentado comer without de


      What stopped them from eating


      I have to wonder... What went wrong?


      We have tried the food was wrong why?


      "De comer" means "to eat". "Comer" is a verb. (I know this b/c I was confused and just asked my amazing Spanish-speaking mother this...)


      Good for you for participating in the discussion. Have a lingot.


      Thanks, HermanaMaria!

      Learn Spanish in just 5 minutes a day. For free.