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  5. "No se puede servir a Dios y …

"No se puede servir a Dios y al diablo."

Translation:No man can serve two masters.

December 18, 2013



I put "You can't serve God and the Devil." This is considered correct! :)


i put a typo and said you can't serve god and the devi :( but i would have got it right then?


Yes, theoretically duolingo would have given you an 'almost correct'


I did the same and it was considered wrong


That is its literal translation! Not the boring english one!


I put 'I can't serve god and the devil' and it was wrong!


I think it might've been because of the 'se puede' part, like a hypothetical type of 'you'.


Yes, it's the se. It's called the impersonal se, and it basically translates in English as 'you' or 'one'.

One example of common use would be in recipes. In a recipe in English you could say 'Then you put the vegetables on the table' or 'One should put the vegetables on the table' (Not sure why you would say that in a recipe, but just go with it).

Translating this in Spanish with the impersonal se would be 'Entonces se pone los vegetales en la mesa' or 'Se debe poner los vegetales en la mesa'. Oh, and any verbs following it should be conjugated in the he/she/it form (él, ella).


That was only because you typed the sentence in the first person. The Spanish is in the third person.


Se peude is like saying (one can ) or (you can) in a general term in english .but its never tramslated as (i) and its not really translated as (you) ether .traslating it as (one can ) is better .like ur not useing a spicific pronoun or talking about a spicific person ..its not the easiest to explain in english .we dont have a pronoun like that .we just say( you or one)


yo también! I can't believe it. :/


That is considered correct because it is the literal translation. Personally, I think that the "standard" translation, 'No man can serve two masters', makes more sense, and I do not see why duolingo would not just say 'No se puede server a dos maestros' instead of getting into the whole god and devil thing.


Both variations of the phrase originate from the same verse in the Bible:

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. Matthew 6:24 NKJV


Guess I can't serve pokemon and lego. :(


this would mean (if you put it to mind) you have to choose a side,good or gad


Just build Lego Pokemon! I did it :)


like pokemon cards or just plain pokemon?


you still can, they're talking about human beings


They aren't you know. The phrase literally says you can't serve god and the devil.


Come at me bro. >:-(


what do you mean, amigo?


(reply to comment behind) thanks




U go Guitar Green!!!


"One cannot serve God and mammon" was accepted :)


What is "mammon"? Thats what the correct answer was for me (you cannoth serve both god and mammon). I was marked wrong for the answer "You cannot serve god and the devil"


Mammon, is like worldly and bad things


Mammon is basically an old belief explaining that money is the route to all evil, or that greed leads to the devil.


Mammon is actually the word for money and material wealth according to the Old Testament, probably proto-Hebrew or something. It is also said that it's the name of the Lord of the Seventh Plane of Hell according to some cultures; the Lord of Greed. Since it is common belief that the Devil offers wealth for you soul; He is also known as Mammon.


Got this without having seen it before. Sunday school in my childhood came in handy!


Same here! I even memorized the scripture!


It's a Bible verse; or at least close to one. Matthew 6:24 "No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money." [en español -- Nadie puede servir a dos señores, pues menospreciará a uno y amará al otro, o querrá mucho a uno y despreciará al otro. No se puede servir a la vez a Dios y a las riquezas.] Just replace "a las riquezas" with "al diablo" and you've got the idiom.


I saw a couple people wondering why they got this wrong by translating it using 'I' instead of 'you'. In case anybody else was wondering why this is translated as 'You can't serve two masters' or 'You can't serve God and the devil,' it's because of the 'se'. It's called the impersonal se, and it basically translates in English as 'you' or 'one'.

One example of common use would be in recipes. In a recipe in English you could say 'Then you put the vegetables on the table' or 'One should put the vegetables on the table' (Not sure why you would say that in a recipe, but let's just go with it).

Translating this in Spanish with the impersonal se would be 'Entonces se pone los vegetales en la mesa' or 'Se debe poner los vegetales en la mesa'. Oh, and any verbs following it should be conjugated in the he/she/it form (él, ella).

I don't know if Duolingo covers this at all. I learned it in my Spanish class, along with most of what I know about verb conjugations and other important stuff not taught very well on Duolingo... If you want to learn more about the impersonal se, there is some more information and a few example sentences on this site: https://www.spanishdict.com/guide/impersonal-se-in-spanish


Why a Dios and al diablo? why not al Dios?


Because just as in English, they are called "God" and "the Devil", He is not called "the God".


thank you, this was a very good question, and thank you for the answer too...I wouldnt have though of it!


To God, and to the devil.
To the God? Nope :P


Actually, Wiccans refer to "the God" all the time, just as Christians refer to "the [sic] Lord."


If you put "1 can't serve god and the devil" it is taken as correct. If you replace "1" with "I", it's wrong.


It's "one", as in the indeterminate third person; "someone". It's not "one" the number. "I" is wrong, because "no se puede" can't mean "I can't"; "I can't" would be "no puedo".


Ah, yes it would be "no se puedo" for the 1st person.


I also put "You can't serve God and the Devil". It was considered wrong....why?


Could someone please explain how "se puede servir' works, Previously there was an idiom saying 'todo la puede' and another one used puede by itself. Couls someone explain the grammar of this please?


'No man can serve two masters' is what worked for me...


Wow, these irregular/indirect translations and idioms are mindboggling!


why is this listed as the correct solution? "You can't serve both God and mammon." I have never in my life heard of the word "mammon"


I was given set words to choose from ,which were really bad. i put (no man can serve 2 masters ) which i got correct some how ,but that traslation was by far the worst i seen lol


I gave the same answer that was identical to the so-called correction 3 timesd and yet it said I was wrong


Ok I wrote this: I can not serve God and the Devil And duo said it was wrong but this was correct: 1 can not serve God and the Devil Please tell me what the heck


i put you can't serve the gods and the devil, if Díos is single then what is the plural of Díos?


whenever i type it wrong it says that this means "no one can serve a god and the devil" then when i type that in it still says it is wrong but now i am being given a different answer. Now it is saying the right answer is "no one can serve two masters". This is very frustrating.


It means that you can't serve good and evil.


I translated this as no one can serve two masters and was told incorrect...sexist or what!


Please don't complain here; use the "Report a Problem" button to report that your answer should be accepted.

There are often many, many different ways to word the same thing, even with regular sentences; when dealing with idioms, the possibilities explode. The folks at Duolingo are always adding new accepted translations, but there's no way they can possibly include them all, so I would be reluctant to characterize any version's omission as sexism. Since we're discussing proverbs, here's an applicable one: never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by oversight.

If you report your answer that wasn't accepted, they will almost certainly add it - eventually - so hopefully the next person who uses that wording will get it right.


Don't see how its sexist, man, as someone already said, usually stands for the human race.


Used to. Not so much anymore.


It is not meant to be. Idioms tend to be particular about the wording. Plus they come from a time when..


... "man" stood for "human" (which it still does).


I answered:"You can't serve God and the devil." and it was accepted. I'm pleasantly slightly surprised.


Equivalent sayings:

--"No se puede estar en misa y repicando"

--"No se puede poner una vela a Dios y otra al diablo/demonio"

--"No se puede estar al plato y a las tajadas"


Why there's a numeric 1 instead of "One" or "I"?


My translation was both literally and traditionally accurate


"no man can serve two masters" feels like it's way too loose of a translation, and I don't think it's more familiar to people than "you can't serve God and Satan." I also learned this as "you can't serve God and money" so I wrote "money" without thinking -- oops.


¡El diablo te quiere!


Old Irish blessing: May you be in Heaven half an hour before the Devil knows you are dead.


It is unfair that the translation trips you up. This should be fixed.


that's wrong i put that exact sentence into google translate and it said no one shall serve god and the devil ?!?!?!?! what is going on ?????


"you can't have a cake and eat it two" should be kinda correct right ?


In my language there is a saying which I think is a close to this one: "You can't hold two watermelons under one arm."


"No se puede servir a Dios y al diablo" is better translated as "You can't serve God and the devil".

What would be a more literal translation of "No man can serve two masters"?


i cannot serve God and the devil was marked as wrong


Because it's not "I". It's "one", or "you" in the impersonal sense. Saying that no-one can do something is a different sentence from saying that the speaker can't do it.


Can someone explain why "You can't please everyone" doesn't work in this context?


"You can't please everyone" refers to other pleasing people, and the fact that no matter what you do at least one person won't be happy.

I think that "no man can serve two masters" refers more to the man than his masters. In it's biblical context the "two masters" seem to refer to choosing between being spiritual and being materialistic, saying that you can't be both at the same time. So its more like choosing between abstract things like good vs evil, or friends/family vs an addiction, etc, and how the choice affects the person making the choice, not the person around them. At least that's what I think...

And you can't get that just by looking at the words on Duolingo, you'd have to be familiar with the idiom. But that's just how it goes with idioms.


The problem is: there is no context. It's something that Duolingo lacks, sadly. Maybe in some cases yes, but it's an idiom so I wouldn't oppose for now.


Matthew 6:24-24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.


People - at least in the parts of the United States with which I am familiar - so often assume EVERYONE is Christian and therefore EVERYONE will - or should - be familiar with at least the better known (to Christians) portions of the Christian scriptures. According to surveys I have seen (by Pew, for instance) over the past several decades membership in the various Christian denominations has been declining in the United States. As a result, fewer children are being indoctrinated in Christian homes and Christian Sunday Schools, so fewer people are learning such Christian scripture passages. So the assumption that everyone will automatically be able to furnish the context themselves is becoming increasingly mistaken.


Compare with Luke 16:13. Isn't there a version with money?


I am not a bible scholar, but you are right: this is likely to be the source for that proverb: Luke 16:1-13 : The Parable of the Shrewd Manager

16 Jesus told his disciples: “There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions. 2 So he called him in and asked him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management, because you cannot be manager any longer.’

3 “The manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do now? My master is taking away my job. I’m not strong enough to dig, and I’m ashamed to beg— 4 I know what I’ll do so that, when I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their houses.’

5 “So he called in each one of his master’s debtors. He asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ 6 “‘Nine hundred gallons[a] of olive oil,’ he replied. “The manager told him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it four hundred and fifty.’ 7 “Then he asked the second, ‘And how much do you owe?’ “‘A thousand bushels[b] of wheat,’ he replied. “He told him, ‘Take your bill and make it eight hundred.’

8 “The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. 9 I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.

10 “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. 11 So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? 12 And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?

13 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other.
You cannot serve both God and money.”


Yea, I answered "you can't serve God and money" and got it wrong, but I've heard it fairly often :(

[deactivated user]

    this is one of those sentences that doesn't make any sense according to word translation , at least to me :(


    Word by word, the structure of this sentence differs from English in a couple ways that require some basic Spanish idioms.

    First, there's the impersonal reflexive. The phrase "[no] se puede servir" literally translates as something like "she is [not] able to serve herself", but idiomatically it means the same as the English "one is [not] able to serve", or the impersonal version of "you are [not] able to serve": it's how you talk about a singular subject without talking about anyone in particular.

    Second, it makes use of the "personal a". This shows up whenever the direct object of a verb is a person (or, in this case, a deity/angel); for example, "I take the keys" is "Llevo las llaves", but "I take the kids" is "Llevo a los niños". (In the case of "the Devil" = "el diablo", the "a" is combined with the "el" to get "al"; this happens whenever "a" is followed by "el" in Spanish.) There's no equivalent word in English, so even though the word "a" usually turns into "at" or "to", in this case it completely disappears instead.

    Put those together, and you get a more-or-less literal translation of "One is not able to serve God and the Devil." So you can see how that maps to the English idiom about two masters, even though the English is not a literal translation of the Spanish.


    Thank you so much for explaining this. My constant struggle with Duolingo is that they explain nothing, so I never know why I am wrong or right.

    [deactivated user]

      Thanks , so much to put together to make the sentences correct.


      Would the idiom "you can't have cake and eat it too" work in this context?


      We have a similar saying in Hungarian, that is "Nem lehet, hogy a káposzta megmaradjon, és a kecske is jól lakjon", meaning "it is not possible to have (keep) the cabbage and also feed the goat"... First I associated this Spanish idiom with this, but now I think they are slightly different...


      in greek we have a similar one to which is 'δεν μπορεις να εχεις την πιτα ολοκληρη και τον σκυλο χορτατο' meaning "you cant have the whole pie and the dog full"


      So basically, Spanish speakers hate the Devil's Advocate?


      I don't think it's about not being able to serve the devil if you wanted to. Its more about being able to please two opposing parties at once. If you did want to serve the devil for some reason, you could not do so whilst also serving God and vice versa.


      Should it accept 'one cannot serve God and Satan'?


      Amen! I definitely believe this biblical passage.


      why not "one cannot serve god and satan"?


      "satanás" or "satán" is satan. "el diablo" is the devil


      В русском это скорее как "Слуга двух господ".


      I put "None can..." and reported it when it failed to be accepted.


      I was wrong, but I spelled it and worded it exactly like the correct answer

      [deactivated user]

        What is mammon? I have never hear do the term.


        Mammon is an old English word for wealth - but it's only used now when quoting this Bible passage


        脚踏两条船/腳踏兩條船: to sit on the fence


        Why not: You cannot serve both god and the devil....


        I said "no man can serve both God and the devil" and it marked me wrong. How is that not correct?


        Im not a christian i dont believe in this stuff i might stop idioms if its gonna teach me this...


        That's really disappointing to hear. Even if you're not a Christian, you can still associate God with a good aspect and the devil with a bad one. Don't reject everything just because it references Christianity or religion.


        Wow, how can you be so whiny? Its just an idiom with a historical/religious background, like Oh my God and Bless you in English, no one is shoving religion down your throat. Stop being a whiny idiot


        NONE of these idioms are useful in learning Spanish AT ALL! fee are even translatable !!!!! these are such nonsense! none sense! It's so weird!!!!


        I can understand your frustration; idioms are often metaphors, and don't always translate directly. But not useful at all? I'm afraid I have to disagree.

        They are helping to expand your vocabulary: it's easier to associate sticks and splinters with De tal palo tal astilla than with El perro juega con el palo or Tengo una astilla en el ojo.

        They teach you about Hispanic culture: En boca cerrada no entran moscas makes a lot of sense in a place where swarms of flies are common. The same with Nunca llueve a gusto de todos in a rainy climate.

        And most of all, they're a reminder that the best way to master another language is to do your best to stop thinking in English. Not as easy as it sounds, I know. But you'll never be as comfortable following a live conversation while you're still trying to translate word by word.


        You can't serve to God and to the Devil was wrong, because it had to before God - even though it's there in Spanish!


        In this case I think the "a" is a "personal a" which doesn't have an English equivalent. It doesn't mean "to".



        Finally someone answered the question ;) I was too scared to interfere with their rather tense conversation (and maybe board the downvote train)

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