Things might become clearer if you consider both sapere and conoscere. Both translate into English 'to know', but sapere is to know facts, data, information, while conoscere is to know (be acquainted with) people, places, objects, etc.
So far so good. But the English past tense 'I knew' is a continuous state, which demands the imperfetto. This leaves the passato prossimo tense (completed action in the recent past) with no obvious function. However, being logical, Italian applies it to the action of acquiring the knowledge.
So, the most literally accurate translation is 'first knew', 'came to know' or 'got to know' according to context. But in English it would be more common to say 'I found out [about]' = ho saputo [di] and 'I met' = ho conosciuto. Simple really.
Thank you for your kindness. Perhaps we should note for completeness that sapere or conoscere may not be the right choices when translating from English, unless the context is 'first getting to know'. Commonly, found out = scoperto, appreso o trovato; heard = sentito o appreso; learned = imparato o appreso; met = incontrato o fatto la conoscenza di. Note how generically useful apprendere is.
Grazie, I really like this explanation. I read it a couple of weeks ago and really took the English translation "I found out [about]" to heart. So, later, in the same lesson, I get this sentence to translate into Italian: I found out why the motorcycle was not working. So, I translated that as "Ho saputo perché la motocicletta non funzionava." But, no, it wasn't correct. They wanted "Ho capito perchè . . ."
In the instant sentence, I get more of the "found out ABOUT" that my motocicletta sentence didn't have.
Is that the reason the motorcycle sentence wanted "capire" instead of "sapere"? To use sapere, do you need to be finding out ABOUT something? Thanks for your help.
Are you sure that it used capire? That is to understand, so that's different. Conoscere is the other verb generally translated as to know. Sapere is used for the knowledge of facts. It is also used before some infinitives to mean to know how to. Conoscere is used for people, objects, works of art. One source I read said that sapere is for what we figure out with our minds, while conoscere is for what we figure out with our senses. Conoscere can also mean something like to be familiar with.
This is the sentence for reference:
To my understanding, "ho saputo" is a passive discovery. You heard or learned the information from an outside source. "I heard why the motorcycle wasn't working" would be my impression of that sentence if you use "ho saputo".
"Ho capito" is more active. You found out the information by investigating it for yourself. I would translate the motorcycle sentence as "I figured out..." rather than "I discovered", which is a more standard definition that you can find in most English-Italian dictionaries.
These are just my wishy-washy impressions, so I'm interested to hear if anyone understands the difference more clearly or has some good sources about the differences.
This is a good explanation, thank you, but I have a follow up question. At first, I thought the translation of this in English would be "I have known about your wedding." So how would you say that in Italian because I can't think of any replacements, or does it also translate to that.
In both Italian and French, the form resembling our present perfect is used for both the present perfect and the simple past. Spanish and Portuguese use their present perfect and simple past pretty much like we do, although they also have the imperfect which English doesn't have.
This makes some sense to me since I speak Spanish. But Spanish actively uses the preterite, the imperfect and the present perfect, and this finite concept of knowing which translates as to find out, learn about or meet is only applicable to the preterite. Normally in Italian the passado prossimo can be translated to or from either the English simple past or the present perfect. So my question here is If I wanted to say I have known which definitely would imply that I still know, I would use the imperfect for these verbs?
Though as Roman2095 pointed out in his Reverso citatation that even the infinitive of sapere can sometimes be translated as "hear about" or "find out," the key to understanding the meaning here is the verb tense. In Italian (as in Spanish, but unlike English) there is a clear difference in the meaning of sapere in the imperfect (sapevo) and in the passato prossimo (ho saputo). The first simply means that I knew something in the past. The second, however, means that I didn't know it previously, but came to know it (=heard, found out, learned of). Yes, there are examples at Word Reference under both the WR and Collins tabs. The Italian gloss for this meaning there is "venire a conoscenza" under the WR tab. Under Collins, look under 1a. The matter is spelled a little more explicitly at: https://blogs.transparent.com/italian/passato-prossimo-e-imperfetto/. They give the examples: 1 Non sapevo che eri malato. I didn't know you were sick. 2 Solo ieri ho saputo che eri malato. I only found out yesterday that you were sick. And if you think to "learn of" is confined to school, then when one learns of another's treachery, they must have learned about it in the school of hard knocks.
Reverso Context has a few of them, so it seems that sapere di has a pretty loose range of translations into English according to the context:
I agree with Germanlehrerlsu that "learned of..." might be a better translation as "found out about...." can have connotations of either defeating attempts to hide something, or accidentally hearing about something you were not supposed to hear about.
Margaret_S: That's true, but the issue is we're not going from English into Italian, but obviously the reverse and so to translate the verb in this example as to "learn of" rather than to "find out about" should be accepted. In this usage of the verb to "learn of", its absolutely synonymous with to "find out about." It's got nothing to do with "education". To "learn" about something in that sense is only one of several possible definitions of the word.
I think that understanding any language, even one's own, but especially when learning a foreign language, depends as much on connotation as denotation.
For example, for we English speakers, "learning of" something and "finding out about" something has little distinction. Unless of course you're in a room full of applied linguistic scholars dissecting the language to the nth degree. But (for this sentence) when we translate those two concepts back into Italian, perhaps "found out about" doesn't quite ring true for them. You can make all of the denotative justifications you want, but if it doesn't ring true connotatively then so be it.
Then again, this could just be poor translation on the part of DL. I avoided the whole "learned of" / "found out about" dilemma by going with a more plain and straight forward translation of "ho saputo" - I knew. My feeling is if you want to refine your meaning then use cercare/scoprire/imparare, etc.
As far as i know, this is a tricky issue with sapere -- passato prossimo or imperfetto. With imperfetto, it means "i knew about it", while with pp, it refers to a particular moment after which you knew it -- i.e., you figured it out/learned/heard about. Learned should be nevertheless ok...
The passato prossimo is technically referred to as the present perfect tense, but when translating it into English it is usually the simple past. They are the same tense, so technically you can translate an Italian passato prossimo sentence as either, but the simple past is preferred and usually closer to the Italian meaning.
I love the undertone in the sentence as both "I've found out about your wedding" and "I've heard about your wedding" are accepted answers but deliver a completely different meaning.
I've heard would someone say who you don't know that well, like "Oh, Suzie, we haven't seen each other for at least two years. I've heard about your wedding, I hope it was really nice!", or just "Oh, Suzie, I've heard about your wedding!" meanwhile "Richard, we need the talk. I've found out about your wedding." sounds like so much stress that it makes me both not wanting to hear what's going on while also wanting to listen to the spectacle with my whole drama loving heart. And even in short, "Richard, I've found out about your wedding." is still pretty concerning.
You do have to be careful about making the assumption that this sentence is the best option to express both those English sentences, however. Subtle nuances are something that Duo isn't set up to teach. So just because Duo feels they can't reject a translation doesn't mean that it's really appropriate. Having "refreshed" a couple of languages I spoke pretty well on Duo has made me very aware of these limits on Duo's ability. Unfortunately, Italian is not a language I have much non Duo experience in, so I can neither confirm nor deny the appropriateness of this sentence in translation for the differences you perceive. But I am suggesting that if it's ever important, you take time to investigate further.
People equate awkward or strange with incorrect, but there is nothing incorrect about this sentence. It's certainly not normal to phrase it in the present perfect. But the present perfect is used to discuss something that happened in the past, most commonly at a vague, unspecified point, that is relevant to the present. This qualifies. I would probably more likely say I have learned of your wedding/marriage or I have found out some things about your wedding, but this sentence isn't wrong, just weird. That being said, since the passato prossimo can be translated either as present perfect or the simple past, I don't know why they wouldn't choose the simple past hear. That doesn't sound strange at all.
i agree with the many suggestions/remarks! also that DL just wants us to learn "stupid"/or unlogic words and sentences just to extend our knowledge of words.... and further as a general comment i would say that there is a difference between a wedding and a marriage(in many languages)! a wedding takes place at a certain moment and only lasts a day (or as in some countries lasts many days) and a marriage is something that (hopefully) lasts for ever..... so i think the idea behind the italian sentence is that someone has heard of somebody's marriage...not of the wedding! that could mean the speaker feels more or less left out! whilst when he says i heard of your marriage then he means he has been informed one way or other about the other having got married some time ago....
That's not true. When sapere is used in the passato prossimo it generally means to find out. To know about something is a stative verb. It prefers the imperfetto in the past to refer to the state of knowing. The simple act related to knowing that has a beginning and end is the act of finding out. A similar thing happens with conocere. The imperfetto is used to say you knew someone. The passato prossimo is used for meeting someone.
A similar thing happens in Spanish, so I understood. But I haven't been able to find a resource that explains this as a general concept in Italian as I have found in Spanish. It may be that there are more verbs like this in Spanish than Italian, I don't know. But this link does talk about this with sapere at least.
Actually that's not necessarily true. Italian, like French (and actually German to a great extent) use the form that we would assume was the present perfect, the pasatto prossimo in Italian, for both the simple past and the present perfect. The passato remoto is essentially only a literary tense, although people do use it to talk about the distant past. The imperfetto (imperfect) is a past tense that exists in romance languages that we don't have. But it's essentially a past continuous or repetitive tense that has a few different ways to be translated. When you see a sentence in this tense you essentially judge for yourself in translating whether to use the the simple past or the present perfect. This sentence is a little more complicated than some, however. Since knowing someone or something is a continuous thing, the normally expected past tense of sapere uses the imperfect for knew. But saying I learned and I have learned both use ho suputo.
First of all this is essentially either simple past or present perfect, both past tenses. You used the present. But if you meant I knew about you marriage, that would require the imperfect. Knowing something is a continuous state and the imperfect is a continuous past tense. The preterite or perfect meaning focuses on sapere as a single, discreet act, which essentially is learning or learning about something or finding out about it. Sapere is one of several stative verbs where the "expected" past tense meaning uses the imperfect.
Ho saputo isn't being translated as found here, but rather found out. And sapere does have a DIFFERENT translation in the passato prossimo that isn't like the one we expected which requires the imperfetto to have the meaning we expect from an English perspective. Spanish does a similar thing, but with the preterite which is essentially the passato remoto, which is becoming obsolete in Italian. The issue is, for languages that have an imperfect, the imperfect is generally the more logical choice for stative verbs in the past, since when we say we knew something in the past we often still know it. The act that is generally completed in the past in learning something or finding out something, not knowing it. This link explains more. But this is certainly not an invention of Duo's. It is the standard translation.
That would be "ho sentito ...", not the same as "ho saputo".
Note that the most accurate English translation of "ho saputo" would be "I got to know about". We can't use "knew" because it is Past Continuous, and in Italian that needs the Past Imperfect tense.
Duo's translation is too loose: the common Italian verb for "find out" is "scoprire".