In more complex sentences, there may be another clue as to the gender, but without context (for example, this sentence in the exercise) there is no way to know. I think the "translation" here reverts to the masculine form as we often do in English, but "Her cats eat the mouse" is also a correct translation. The third person singular as "you", in my experience, is used as the polite form more in addressing strangers e.g. when greeting them, asking directions, conducting business, etc. rather than in a sentence like this one.
Suo, sua, suoi etc always adjust their shape to the object. Gatti in this case. Not to the subject.
From looking at "suo, sua or suoi" we can not know whether the subject is female, male or plural femal/male.
Well, that's just a difference of English and Italian. An Italian might be confused about English: from the word "her" or "his" he can never know the gender or number of the object.
Whether it's subject or object makes no difference. Possessives, just like all other adjectives, must agree in gender and number with the nouns they modify. So yes, it's
i suoi because
gatti is masculine plural. It has nothing to do with whose cats they are.
il mio - my singular masculine thing
i miei - my plural masculine (or mixed/unknown) things
la mia - my singular feminine thing
le mie - my plural feminine things
When the word topo was first introduced, it said it meant mouse or rat. I have been using rat because it is quicker to type and it has always been accepted. Now, suddenly it has refused to accept rat as correct and marked it wrong, accepting only mouse. No fair! Can topo mean rat or not?
Hey Owlie, Of all the lessons on Duolingo, this was the only one that threw me, but the good news is, that it is really just a one-off weird one. The thing that we are completely unaware of, is that of all the animals we have learnt about, CATS are the only ones that are distinguished as being either MALE or FEMALE. When you remove that from the learning equation, you realise that you have actually learned this lesson. So, in essence all we are being required to do is match the animal with the owner. Annoyingly GATTA would be a female cat, and therefore we can only use possessives that are appropriate for something female - la sua, la tua, la nostra, la mia. Similarly GATTO would be a male cat, and therefore we can only use possessives that are appropriate for something male - il suo, il tuo, il nostro, il mio. This has thrown so many people, including myself, because we are outraged that we are not told if these are male or female cats. However, like many of the other questions, we are really just matching the male or feminine words to this particular noun. Because they are CATS we use the appropriate PLURAL possessive. I'm no expert, but I think a lot of people need re-assurance when they get this wrong. We would be screwed if this happened with dogs or mice or elephants. But think of it as a cow or a bull and the logic kicks in more easily.
Cats are not unique among animals in having grammatical gender that matches their physical sex. This applies to all pets and farm animals. Generally, any animal that they would have had regular close encounters with to be able to distinguish the males from the females. The following is just a short list:
|cat/cats||il gatto/i gatti||la gatta/le gatte|
|dog/dogs||il cane/i cani||la cagna/le cagne|
|horse/horses||il cavallo/i cavalli||la cavalla/le cavalle|
|cow/cows||la mucca/le mucche|
|bull/bulls||il toro/i tori|
|hen/hens||la gallina/le galline|
|rooster/roosters||il gallo/i galli|
|elephant/elephants||l'elefante/gli elefanti||l'elefantessa/le elefantesse|
i have this big problem with the "suoi"and "tuoi"... I am Brazilian, and we have a really really bad habit to make them kind of the same thing... Portuguese people don't do that, but we do... and since i grew up like this, most of the time, i can not 'see' a diference between the worlds and it makes me answer the wrong way sometimes....
Only if it's in the predicate, not if it's in the subject or an isolated noun phrase.
i suoi gatti = her cats
i suoi gatti sono neri = her cats are black
sono (i) suoi gatti = they are her cats
These rules apply in all cases, regardless of number or gender or person. The only exception is singular family members never get the article in the possessive.
mia madre = my mother
There is a subtle distinction to be made in using the article or not, they're not perfectly interchangeable. One way means "this is mine, not his" and the other way means "this, not something else, is mine".
In Italian, the possessive agrees with the thing(s) possessed, not with who possesses it.
il suo gatto can mean either
his (male) cat or
her (male) cat.
i suoi gatti can mean either
his cats or
la sua gatta can mean either
his (female) cat or
her (female) cat.
le sue gatte can mean either
his (female) cats or
her (female) cats.
Masculine is the default, so "gatti" can mean all male cats, a mix of male and female cats, or an unknown composition of cats.
The rules for the indefinite articles are here:
There are exceptions, but most of the time, you can tell from how a noun ends whether it's masculine or feminine:
-o masculine singular
-i masculine plural
-a feminine singular
-e feminine plural
It's the number and gender of the noun that determines the form that associated articles, possessives, adjectives, and pronouns take.
It's "gatti" because either it's multiple male cats or a mix or we don't know. It would be "gatte" if we knew all the cats were female.
It's "i suoi" because "gatti" is masculine plural. If it were "gatte", it would be "le sue". If it were only one cat and the cat was male or unknown, it would be "il suo gatto". If it were only one cat and it was female, it would be "la sua gatta".
More poor audio and on first introduction to a word combination totally new to the learner. So I get it wrong not surprisingly. Suoi not previously encountered and mangiano completely new to me. Combine that with poor sound - FAIL. Stop being so annoyingly difficult and at least fix the audio please.
Yes, there is a rule for regular verbs. (For irregular verbs, you just have to memorize their special forms, but the good news is that most verbs are regular or semi-regular.)
To start, you need to know the infinitive form. In this case, it's
mangiare. To conjugate it, you remove the infinitive ending
-are and use the suffix appropriate to the person:
-i (the stem already ends with
i, so there's no need for an extra
-iamo (the stem already ends with
i, so there's no need for an extra
Their cats: i loro gatti
Her cats: i suoi gatti
Possessive adjectives and pronouns work just like any other adjectives. They must agree in gender and number with the thing that is possessed, which is reflected in the end of the word. The first part of the word says broadly whose it is.
il mio (my singular masculine thing)
i miei (my plural masculine things)
la mia (my singular feminine thing)
le mie (my plural feminine things)
It does not matter who "I" am.
TU (singular "you", addressing exactly one person)
il tuo (your singular masculine thing)
i tuoi (your plural masculine things)
la tua (your singular feminine thing)
le tue (your plural feminine things)
It does not matter who "you" are.
il suo (his/her singular masculine thing)
i suoi (his/her plural masculine things)
la sua (his/her singular feminine thing)
le sue (his/her plural feminine things)
Again, the gender of the possessive reflects the gender of the thing, not whose it is.
il nostro (our singular masculine thing)
i nostri (our plural masculine things)
la nostra (our singular feminine thing)
le nostre (our plural feminine things)
VOI (plural "you/y'all", addressing two or more people)
il vostro (y'all's singular masculine thing)
i vostri (y'all's plural masculine things)
la vostra (y'all's singular feminine thing)
le vostre (y'all's plural feminine things)
il loro (their singular masculine thing)
i loro (their plural masculine things)
la loro (their singular feminine thing)
le loro (their plural feminine things)
"Loro" is the exception here in that the possessive form does not change, but the article still shows agreement.
We don't know if it's his cats or her cats.
Our cats would be i nostri gatti.
Their cats would be i loro gatti.
Yes. People, common pets, and common farm animals have grammatical gender according to their real-world sex/gender.
il ragazzo - the boy
la ragazza - the girl
i ragazzi - the boys/the children
le ragazze - the girls
il gatto - the cat (male or unknown)
la gatta - the cat (female)
i gatti - the cats (male, mixed, or unknown)
le gatte - the cats (female)
The default grammatical gender is masculine.