"Non decideva lui."

Translation:It was not up to him to decide.

November 18, 2013



I don't understand how they can say the answer is "it was not up to him to decide" from the given phrase. Is this an idiom?

January 30, 2015

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It's not an idiom, just a natural use of emphasis that is only intuitive to natives. In the present, you'd say "io non decido" to simply state a fact (I don't decide or I'm not deciding), but "non decido io" to mean "it's not me who decides", "I'm not the one making the decision", "it's not up to me to decide": the strong implication is that the action (deciding) is not (cannot be) performed by me, but someone else. You could do the same with other verbs, e.g. "pago io" (I'm the one who's paying - i.e. no one else dare pay): typical sentence when paying a round at a café or a pub. Now transfer the action to the past, and you have either "non ha deciso lui" (it wasn't him who decided, that one time), or "non decideva lui" (it wasn't him who decided, over a period of time, i.e. he wasn't the one making decisions).

To quote a recent example from an Italian newspaper: "Sopra di sé aveva il sindaco e la giunta. Le decisioni non le ha mai prese lui. [...] Contava tantissimo, non crede? - Ma non decideva lui." (above him he had the mayor and the council. He was never the one to make the decisions. [...] He was very important [lit. he counted a lot], don't you [formal] think? - But he wasn't the one who decided). Note that here the interviewee used emphasis twice, first with an Object-Verb-Subject order (doubled by the clitic) and then with Verb-Subject (which is a subcase).

December 31, 2016


I understand how the sentence emphasises that it was HE who did the not-deciding. But in English there is a definite difference between 'it was not he who decided' (neutral, just factual) and 'it was not up to him to decide' (carries a judgement about whether he should have been deciding or not). Does Italian not make the same distinction?

January 21, 2018


Thanks. A good explanation.

June 15, 2017



June 18, 2019


Does it follow that: Non cucinava lui = it was not up to him to cook Non pensava lui = it was not up to him to think.... Etc etc?

June 29, 2019


Unless it's an idiom, I don't think this makes sense either. They don't mean the same thing in English at all. to "be up to him to decide" would imply some measure of responsibility, not merely inaction. As it reads, it seems like only "he didn't decide". That doesn't hint one way or the other whether it was up to him (i.e. his responsibility) to do that. I'd also love it if a native speaker could clarify if this is idiomatic.

Further down in this thread someone seems to explain it as being about syntax, which makes sense. Because "lui" comes last, the emphasis is on him, whereas if lui came first, it would be the simpler "He didn't decide". Hope I've understood that correctly.

June 3, 2016

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I would also like a native speaker to chime in - is this construction an idiom, and can it be used with other verbs?

December 11, 2015


See f.formica's explanation above.

May 9, 2018


I wrote “he would not decide” and it was accepted. I guess you could take that to mean “he [was not the one who] would decide.” But it is confusing.

October 25, 2017


"It was not him deciding" seems a legitimate translation, but was not accepted 11/11/17

November 11, 2017


It's because duo rephrased the direct translation "He was not deciding".

July 10, 2015


I get dhunteroz's explanation but would never have guessed it on my own. Tricky. In other words HE was not deciding, but someone else was - therefore, it was not up to HIM to decide.

December 17, 2015


Could one say "Lui non decideva"?

November 18, 2013


Yes, but the meaning is slightly different: "non decideva lui" is more like "he was not the one who could decide", while "lui non decideva" expresses true incertitude.

January 8, 2014


+1 for 'incertitude'!

January 27, 2016


We would say "It was not for him to decide". I wonder if Duo would accept that.

January 17, 2014


Report it if not.

September 4, 2016


Not yet, anyway.

March 17, 2016



November 18, 2013



November 18, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Angele di Liscia

"He was not decide " is wrong English

May 10, 2014


"wrong English" is bad English, and "he was not deciding" is just fine - you would finish that sentence with 'so I decided instead'

October 5, 2016


(American English speaker) Yes- we would either say "he was not deciding" or "he did not decide."

August 27, 2014


How do get "up to him" in this sentence?

January 23, 2015


"He would not decide" accepted Mar. 25, '15. Captures the "continuing" or "repeating" quality of the past imperfect, as in "We asked him if he wanted to be buried or cremated, but he would not decide."

March 26, 2015


I know the moderators are busy but an explanation of how this sentence or this structure works would be appreciated. ie could we say "non cucinava lui" to mean "cooking was not for him to do"?

May 9, 2015


I think having the "lui" at the end makes the difference and emphasizes him as not being the one to decide. It's quite convoluted, but I've seen this construction before and it makes the pronoun stronger.

January 22, 2016


'He did not decide' is accepted

March 11, 2015


What about "it was not for him to decide"?

December 26, 2015


Could "He wouldn't decide" not work?

November 20, 2014


I wrote this and it was accepted. April 26, 2015.

April 26, 2015


It was not accepted 11.12.14 but it is surely the exact meaning, and good English.

December 11, 2014


What's wrong with "It was not up to him"?

January 20, 2015


The position of the subject, "lui," emphasizes that it was HE who did not decide. But there is nothing in the sentence that indicates his responsibility to do so. The given translation is an error.

March 18, 2015


Is this an idiom, a common phrase, a proverb or something else?

July 25, 2017


If this sentence is "only intuitive to natives" I suppose there are many others. Would it be possible to have a separate lesson including all these, as well as you did with "flirtings" and "proverbs"?

July 25, 2017


Io la tradurrei " non era lui a decidere"

November 30, 2017

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Il senso è più "non spettava a lui decidere".

November 30, 2017


'He was not deciding' is a very strange sentence in English. Maybe 'he was undecided' or 'he could not decide' or 'he would not decide' or 'he did not decide' or ...........?

December 29, 2014


"He was not deciding" is a valid English sentence within context. e.g. If the topic was about joining a gym. He may want do delay the decision until later.

March 20, 2015


I prefer "He was not making a decison"

July 10, 2015


Or maybe- "He was not deciding, he was merely pretending to decide."

February 23, 2016


What is wrong with "It was not his to decide"?

January 22, 2015


Souldn't "he was not deciding it" be marked correct?

February 5, 2015


he didn't used to decide

March 8, 2015


Why not "It was not his decision" which is better idiomatic English?

March 30, 2015


"he did not use to decide" should be a correct translation, right?

June 27, 2015


"He did not used to decide" sounds very clunky in English. A better option would be "He would not decide". Also the phrase is "used to", not "use to". :)

October 28, 2015


18SEP'16 I can guess* how you can end up with "It was not up to him to decide." but as there are 49 comments on this sentence and no native speaker has yet supported this translation I have reported to DL that there are these many comments and requested them to please explain their translation so we don't have to guess anymore.

*The subject "lui" is after the verb and therefore stressed. Imperfetto is used when the action was continuous (was not deciding) or repeated (did not use to decide, used not to decide, would not decide). Other uses of imperfetto: https://www.duolingo.com/skill/it/Verbs%3A-Past-Imperfect

So then I end up with: "He, he was not deciding," which could imply(!) it was not up to him to decide (= it was not his task), but could also mean that he just took too long to come to a decision and maybe someone else was more decisive (=he did have the right to decide but failed to do so).

September 18, 2016


Read f. Formica's response. He is a native speaker. In my lesson the DL question is to translate from English to Italian: It was not up to him to decide. The correct answer given by DL is: Non stava a lui decidere. IMHO I think the correct ENGLISH translation should be: It was not for him to decide.

June 20, 2018


Really lost here on this one.......... The verb in the sentence is " was ** not "To Decide ?? right ??

April 23, 2017


I don't know what the exact intention of this sentence is to a native Italian speaker, but if it is as suggested, I would use the simple sentence "It' was not for him to decide". Using the preposition 'up' with secondary preposition 'to' really makes it impossible to explain logically, except to say that's how it is.

August 26, 2017


Would "it was not his decision" be a closer translation?

I don't understand where you get "upto him to" from the Italian sentence?

April 5, 2018


Since we are dealing with an idiom, why can't DL accept, "It was not his to decide"? It is as "il"literal as theirs but has the exact same meaning.

April 9, 2018


I wrote "it is not decided by him." But was marked wrong?

July 26, 2018


Your sentence is in the present tense, but the Italian one here is in the past. Your sentence is in the passive mood, but the Italian one is in the active.

July 30, 2018


He was not used to deciding still seems right and legit

October 11, 2018


I like the English translation, simply, "Was not his decision." We use this in English, just as in Italian, to indicate that it was not up to him to decide.

February 6, 2019


Do we have to invent a translation? where does it was not up to him come from?

March 10, 2019


I do not understand the syntax. This is where a literal translation would help!

May 27, 2019


If I translate it literally, it's "He was not deciding." It's a bit of a stretch, but I can see how that could be paraphrased (and elaborated on) as "It was not up to him to decide." Thanks, f.formica.

June 18, 2019
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