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?
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).
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?
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?
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.
I would also like a native speaker to chime in - is this construction an idiom, and can it be used with other verbs?
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.
"It was not him deciding" seems a legitimate translation, but was not accepted 11/11/17
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.
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.
We would say "It was not for him to decide". I wonder if Duo would accept that.
"wrong English" is bad English, and "he was not deciding" is just fine - you would finish that sentence with 'so I decided instead'
(American English speaker) Yes- we would either say "he was not deciding" or "he did not decide."
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"?
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.
It was not accepted 11.12.14 but it is surely the exact meaning, and good English.
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.
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"?
'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 ...........?
"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.
"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". :)
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).
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.
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.
Would "it was not his decision" be a closer translation?
I don't understand where you get "upto him to" from the Italian sentence?
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.
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.
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.
Do we have to invent a translation? where does it was not up to him come from?
I do not understand the syntax. This is where a literal translation would help!