In English "the candy" is a mass noun - ie. "the candy" can be used for one piece of candy or a group of candy. Typically though it's used for talking about multiple pieces of candy but not always.
Think about it - if someone says to you "The candy is on the plate in the other room", you can't tell from that one sentence exactly what you will find when you go into the other room. Will you find a plate with one piece of candy on it, or a plate with multiple pieces of candy on it?
(You might be able assume from context - but the sentence itself is ambiguous)
Just to be even more confusing, English also has the word "candies". However "the candies" can only be used for multiple pieces of candy.
In Italian though - if you have one piece of candy - you use "la caramella". If you have more than one piece of candy - you use "le caramelle". Nice and simple, unlike English.
The confusion arises when you translate from Italian back to English. You can translate "Le caramelle sono nel piatto" as both "The candies are on the plate" or "The candy is on the plate" because both these sentences are correct English sentences for the situation at hand (The situation is: There is a plate and it has multiple pieces of candy on it).
The first English sentence has a plural noun and plural verb ("the candies are"), whereas the second sentence "the candy is..." has a singular noun and singular verb (thanks to that quirk of English that allows "the candy" (singular) to refer to a plural situation). However both English sentences are correct.
And this is why translating is not always straightforward, and babelfish ear inserts are not yet a reality. :)
Hope that helps.
"le caramelle" can be translated to "they" just like le ragazze could do the same. It might help if you think about it in two sentences: "The candies? They're on the plate" - "le caramelle? Loro sono ai piatto" or "The girls? They're reading a book." - "Le ragazze? Leggono un libro."
Whenever a word ends in "-e", the Italian language is telling you that the subject is plural and of the feminine gender. You have 2 markers here ("lE caramellE") telling you that this a plural (gender: feminine). "-o": singular, masculine "-i": plural, masculine
"-a": singular, feminine "-e": plural, feminine
Tom$Fox, I think you have put your finger on it, those of us who speak English English would not say “the candies are on the plate.” because we don't use the word candy or candies. We would say the sweets are on the plate and the sweet is on the plate. The issue here is not with Italian but with American English and our lack of understanding of it. So the issue needs to be raised as a DuoLingo problem not an Italian problem
Why use "NEL" and not "SUL"?
NEL = in + the > IN the plate.
SUL = on + the > ON the plate.
In America, we don't ever say "The candies are IN the plate." We would say "The candies are ON the plate." I know that this is Italian and different from English, but if "IN" mean "in" and "SU" means "on", wouldn't Italian use "SUL?"
the difference is this
la forchetta sul piatto - The fork is on the plate. typically, when you rest the fork and knife, or spoon on the plate, its not in the centre of the plate, because this is where the food is. But, it can rest on the plate, but on the edge.
however food, is always in the middle of the plate, hence why you say in (or in the middle) of the plate. therefore le caramelle nel piatto or il pasto e' nel piatto
the problem here is Duolingo's translation of Nel. so as long as you understand what Nel and Sul mean in this context.
Oh, okay, thanks for the explanation! Many times There are little idiosyncrasies within the Italian language that doesn't necessarily translate the same into English. This makes sense, though!
So, food that would be in the center of the plate = NEL piatto.
Non food items that would be resting on the plate and not necessarily in the middle = SUL piatto.
@aaronwoolley i'll take you're word for it as you are level 16 lol but it still sounds funny to me to use nel instead of sul. especially because i've heard nel to be used to mean in/inside or something. like distinguishing this:
le zucchine sono nel piatto VS le zucchine sono sul piatto
when i want to say that the zucchini is in the dish (as in "in the recipe/food i'm serving") nel piatto would be best
when i want to say it's on the plate sul would be best, no?
The plate creates the most challenges because context applies. as i will try to explain below. Note, i have to confess, that i am being assisted by my Italian wife :-)
Italians use specific plates for each dish, which Duolingo fails to explain.
If the plate is flat then the food will be more on the plate. such as pizza, cake. however , a pasta will go into a plate with a concave (e.g.container), which is still a plate, not a bowl, but it goes into the plate.
a bowl and a glass is very straight forward, and a substance can only go into.
ON THE PLATE
la pizza e' sul piatto La torta e' sul piatto Fetta di torta e' sul piatto
ON THE PLATE (CONCAVE) la Pasta e' nel piatto
IN THE GLASS
l'acqua e' nel bicchiere - why, because water can only be in the glass
IN THE BOWL
La Zuppa e' nella ciotola
hope this adds some clarity :-)
Problem is there are many Americanisms in the Italian course in particular and not all are interchangeable with UK English equivalents. I've lost hearts because I happen to have forgotten to be American for a second. A particular favourite is Biscuits. I just lost a heart because I forgot to type cookies. Thats annoying. But on balance unless its really easy for duolingo to introduce dialects to their languages I'd rather be American and have more smaller languages added.
"Candy" is a singular noun - that means you use the singular form of the verb with it.
However "candy" is a mass noun which means you can use it for both: a) one piece of candy, or b) multiple pieces of candy - so in that sense it is both singular and plural.
Or in shorter words "does candy mean both sweets and a sweet?" - Yes, it can. I'd say it more commonly it means "sweets", but it can also be used for "a sweet".
It's not wrong at all. In English, if there are ten pieces of candy on a plate, can we not say, "the candy is on the plate," as well as "the candies are on the plate"? It's a collective noun. Therefore, if you say, "le caramelle sono nel piatto," you can translate it, in English, as "candies are" or "candy is."
The answer is shown as "The candies are on the plate" which is what I wanted to answer but the word "are" was not available to select. Also, when my answer was marked wrong the reason given was that I should have used the singular but when I click through to the comments the correct answer is given as the plural. I think the wrong question and answer have been linked here.