I think that "de" is needed when it is a TRANSITIVE verb, and NOT for an INTRANSITIVE verb. A simple test - Could you put "it" on the end of the sentence (in English) and have it make sense? If you can, you need "de".
"It is impossible to know IT" (Es imposible DE saber) - That still makes sense. You need the "de", because "know" is transitive.
"It is impossible to reach IT" (Es imposible DE alcanzar) - Yep, that works. You need "de" because "reach" is transitive.
"It is impossible to travel IT" (Es imposible viajar) - Makes no sense. No "de" required, because "travel" is intransitive. (Unless IT referred to a road, in which case "travel" is transitive, and "de" would be required)
"It is impossible to sleep IT" (Es imposible dormir) - Ok, that really makes no sense. No "de" required, because "sleep" is always intransitive.
Another example that may make this clearer:
Reading is easy. = Es facil leer. = It is easy to read.
Meanwhile... This book? It's easy to read. = ¿Este libro? Es facil DE leer. = It is easy to read [it].
Is it only certain special verbs that require this "de" if they're transitive verbs? Or is it only the ones that can be either transitive or intransitive?
Learning Spanish has really improved my own English grammar because before this I didn't even know what an "Intransitive" or "Transitive" verb was. I had to look up the definitions and look at videos for examples and AHORA I can say I KNOW what you're talking about lol. Thanks for the thorough explanation
Some sentences have "que" plus the verb. What would be my cue if I should use "de" "que" or none?
¡Gracias, jonbriden! So is this rule about "de" true with most all transitive verbs?
Para mí sería distinta la traducción de lo sgte:
"it is impossible to know it" --> "es imposible saberlo"
"it is imposible to reach it" --> "es imposible alcanzarlo"
This is so helpful! I've also seen "para" be used plus the verb. Is there a different rule for these? For example, could I say "Es imposible para saber" and it translate the same meaning?
I think this example is a BAD SPANISH: if they give us this example with transitive SABER, they have to add a direct object and do not confuse people: add LO or something like that (direct object, noun or pronoun). So, it could be: "es imposible de saber lo".
It's the same in French. saber = savoir and in French we have to say, c'est impossible DE savoir.
for the three persons who gave me a down vote, go and by a grammar. Someone who is native español, already gave us a hint here in Duo. He said that if you can add "it" after the infinitive in English, you have to put "de" in Spanish Ex : Es impossible to know it, so in Spanish you'll add "de"
From this reference: http://users.ipfw.edu/jehle/courses/VRBSPREP.HTM
(Im)personal expressions involving ser plus an adjective.
When used impersonally, expressions with ser plus an adjective are normally followed by an infinitive, with no intervening preposition:
Es fácil leer. It's easy to read.
Es difícil describir a mi madre. It's difficult to describe my mother.
However, when this type of expression is used to modify something specific (rather than an impersonal “it”), de is used before the infinitive. This occurs most frequently with fácil and difícil.
¿Este libro? Es fácil de leer. This book? It's easy to read. Mi madre es dificil de describir. My mother is hard to describe.
In my spanish grammar, it says : Es interesante viajar, no "de", because in front of a subject infinitive , (viajar), there's no preposition. We could say : Viajar es interesante, viajar is the subject here. I think here in Duolingo , that the subject is not the infinive but, es=it is Hope it helps a bit.
I am confused. In the previous lesson, "Es imposible salir" is correct. But here "Es imposible de saber" is correct. Can someone clarify how the usage is different here?
The usage is not different, see my comment above. This is just another error from Duolingo.
but why the "de" .. it's fine to tell me you have to use the same structure in french, but so often in spanish, it is a verb +infinitive ... why not this time?
Plauben : In that way yes, but Duolingo traduced by : it is imposible to know. So, it, is the subect .
"It is impossible to know it" is getting marked as wrong :( Can't guess why.
I'd guess because the "it" is only implied in the Spanish sentence, not explicit, which would be...
"Es imposible de saberlo"
I think that would translate to "it is impossible to know it"
"It" does not get its own word in Spanish, unless it is the object in the sentence.
In English we say "It's raining" but in spanish, the "it" is included in the conjugation of "estar" = "está lloviendo"
"It is impossible" = Es imposible. (Not lo es imposible)
Thank you, Jueves Huevos! I'm having problems figuring out what words are direct objects and which ones are not. I know that direct objects take the action of the verb and that indirect objects answer "to whom" or "for whom", but I'm having problems putting these definitions to practical use in actual sentences. I'm going to need to drill some more. What part of speech would "it" be in this sentence?
I think "it" is the subject in this sentence. ??
When it is a direct object in a sentence, it's something like a ball, a cup, a sweater, a thing/object.
I gave it to her (it could be a ball, a cup, a sweater, etc) That would use "lo" or "la" to as "it" to replace the noun. So use lo/la to replace the name of the noun (I gave the sweater to her)
She has to know = Ella puede que saber It's impossible to know = Es imposible de saber
When is 'to' translated as 'que', and when as 'de'?
Ella PUEDE SABER "Modals (e.g., “should”, “can”, “may”) are normally followed by an infinitive with no intervening preposition." from VERBS + PREPOSITION http://users.ipfw.edu/jehle/courses/vrbsprep.htm also http://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/spanish-english/poder
It was "Ella tiene que saber." The first or second time I saw the conjugated verb tener with que, someone said that que translates to "to" with the conjugated verb tener. So far we have seen that the conjugated verb poder, does not need anything between it and the infinitive verb somebody can do.
Different verbs need different Spanish prepositions for the English "to"
IV. tener que + infinitive = to have to do something (obligation)
4 Modal verbs usually without preposition, example:poder
IX. Special case: (Im)personal expressions involving ser plus an adjective. (This answers a question I had 7 months ago about it's imposible with or without de.. Thanks to you I found the answer)
- When used impersonally, expressions with ser plus an adjective are normally followed by an infinitive, with no intervening preposition:
Es fácil leer. It's easy to read.
- However, when this type of expression is used to modify something specific (rather than an impersonal "it"), de is used before the infinitive.
¿Este libro? Es fácil de leer. This book? It's easy to read.
Cool! :) Your post gave us a great list, very well put together! Gotta give you a lingot for that. Also, I finally looked up what exactly an impersonal expression was because of you, and found another area to study which I'm not ready for yet.
Still, here is something I found on the topic of impersonal expressions followed by adjectives. Subjunctive verbs aren't that different, but they Are different, and in all tenses where each is used.
I like this one for quick conjugation references. http://conjugator.reverso.net/conjugation-spanish.html
Unfortunately my link leads to
es imposible saber
"When used impersonally, expressions with ser plus an adjective are normally followed by an infinitive, with no intervening preposition:
Es fácil leer. It's easy to read."
no "DE" despite that one can add "IT"
The equivalence with Es imposible saber It's impossible to know
"However, when this type of expression is used to modify something specific (rather than an impersonal “it”), de is used before the infinitive. This occurs most frequently with fácil and difícil.
¿Este libro? Es fácil de leer. This book? It's easy to read."
NOTE: Here one can add an "IT"
"Mi madre es dificil de describir. My mother is hard to describe."
NOTE: Has "DE" though no "IT" can be added
Which means that both Duo is wrong an Jonbiden's theory "If possible to add IT then use DE" is wrong????
If she can "understand" the book, then why can't the above be "it is impossible to understand"?