A lot of people are confused by the fact that qualche takes a grammatical singular, even though it really means more than one. I had the same problem until I realised that there are similar constructions in my native German and in French. Though they are a bit old-fashioned. So here is a translation that shows the same phenomenon in English:
"I have many a friend in town."
PS: Most languages also have a construction such as "more than one friend".
"Qualche" is an interesting word in that it does not change (masculine, feminine, singular, plural) form and always takes a single noun following. However, in English it is translated in the plural, so "Ho scritto qualche linea" "I wrote some lines," "La mia giacca ha qualche riga" = "My jacket has some stripes," "Ho lavorato qualche giorno al questo lavoro" = "I worked some days on this task." I do believe that "nessun" works in a similar way, but perhaps someone else could confirm that...
"I have some friend in town" would be a colloquial way in English of saying "I have a friend in town", so I think in Italian you would translate that as: "Ho un amico in città"
"Ho qualche amico in città" translates to "I have some friends" in Italian. Like giuliap says, "qualche" takes the singular, although in English "some" (in the corresponding sense) takes the plural.
"I have some friend in town" is not colloquial English. It is theoretically possible to say that you have a non-determinate friend, as in "I must have some friend in town whose couch I can crash on!" but it would never mean more than one friend.
Sigh. Well, it's a useful Italian collocation, anyway.
Qualche specifically means some, so it's not singular. Even though the form of the noun used with qualche is always singular, the meaning is plural. Qualche is an alternative to the partitive (il partitivo) when some means a few, but not when some means a little, or a bit of. The partitive is used to indicate a part of a whole or an undetermined quantity or number. In English, we use some or any. In Italian, they use the preposizioni articolate forms of di (e.g., del, dello, dell', della, dei, degli, or delle). If you wanted to use a plural form of the noun to mean the same thing, you would not use qualche. Rather, you would use alcune or alcuni.
But, qualche specifically means some, so it's not singular. Even though the form of the noun used with qualche is always singular, the meaning is plural. Qualche is an alternative to the partitive (il partitivo) when some means a few, but not when some means a little, or a bit of. The partitive is used to indicate a part of a whole or an undetermined quantity or number. In English, we use some or any. In Italian, they use the preposizioni articolate forms of di (e.g., del, dello, dell', della, dei, degli, or delle). If you wanted to use a plural form of the noun to mean the same thing, you would not use qualche. Rather, you would use alcune or alcuni.
I can't hear that phenomenon at all. Maybe you are getting a different version of the voice (as part of Duolingo's usual A-B testing process). Or maybe it's because as a small child your ear was trained on a different native language (and regional accent).
Our ears classify sounds into equivalence classes based on the language(s) we hear in the first few months of our lives. It's very hard to change this later. Maybe the n is slightly longer than would be expected before a consonant in your native accent. That could make you hear a phantom vowel after it. Or maybe there actually is a very short vowel after the n that is ignored by native speakers of Italian (and German, my native language). I think what's most likely is that you are not used to n consonants being so long and therefore your ears interpret the end as a separate vowel.
It is definitely wrong. There is an important distinction here, although through the discussion forum on an unrelated sentence in the Dutch course "The girl does not have much bread., I have become aware that more and more native English speakers do not understand this distinction any more. The remainder of this post is an adaptation of my post in that other forum.
In English you can add the indefinite article to little (for uncountable nouns) or few (for countable nouns) to change the meaning.
- The girl has little bread. - She doesn't have much bread. There is an upper bound on the amount of bread she has.
- The girl has a little bread. - She has some bread. There is a lower bound on the amount of bread she has.
The amount is probably the same in both cases. It's a half empty vs. half full situation. Similarly with few:
- I have few friends. - I do not have many friends. There is an upper bound on the number of friends I have.
- I have a few friends. - I have some friends. There is a lower bound on the number of friends I have.
When used as understatements:
- having "little bread left" or "few friends left" can be an understatement for all gone; whereas
- having "a little bread left" or "a few friends left" can be an understatement for still all intact.
They also behave differently with respect to comparatives: very little / few refers to a very small amount or number. You can't use very with a little / few, but quite a little / few actually refers to a large amount or number.
I translated it first as 'I have a few friends in town' and it was incorrect. So when it came up again I put' I have few friends in town.' But again it was incorrect. On the third time it accepted my original answer...a few. Please check these an annoying inconsistencies.
Yes, I believe "in città" can refer to "in the city" or "in town". I suppose like many things, the meaning will come from the context of the conversation. Similarly, a phrase like "Mi piace la sua camicia" (I like his/her shirt) doesn't specify whether it's actually "his" or "her", but the listener will know who the speaker is referring to from context.