"Ho qualche amico in città."

Translation:I have a few friends in town.

January 18, 2013

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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".


Would you please give an example for a similar construction in German?

  • "Ich habe manch einen Freund in der Stadt."
  • "Ich habe [so] manchen Freund in der Stadt."


Thanks so much for this! Finding literal translations, even if they're awkward or antiquated, really helps me learn grammar rules in particular.


Thanks that makes sense.


thank you for that explanation


Thanks, johaquila, perfectly explained!


As far as French is concerned, are you referring to "maint" ?


Good question. I can't remember what I was thinking of. I am pretty sure it was neither maint nor plus d'un, but right now I can't find anything else. Maybe something I know from 17th century literature that didn't make it into my dictionary?


You can even say "j'ai quelque ami en ville"


I don't see the French construction that you are using. We say, "J'ai peu d'amis." (I have few friends)or "J'ai quelques amis." (I have a few friends). These are both plural. I suppose it's another exception to remember?


"Ho qualche AMICI in città" is also correct for " I have a few friends in town" ?


No, qualche requires a singular noun.


Shouldn't the translation only be "I have some friend in town"? Or can "qualche amico" also stand for "some friends" in the translation?


"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...


Super examples and excellent explanation.


Exactly what I needed! Thank you!


"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.


Does "qualche" always take the singular?


Please read the prior discussion before posting a question, to check if it has already been answered. That way the discussion thread stays compact and easier to use. Thank you.


"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.


Really it's not a very common phrase. It literally means 'I have many a friend', which is (if you can't tell) a rather outdated phrase!


Think of qualche as "somebody" ... without the "-body" and it will work fo you :-)


Can we say " Ho alcuni amici in citta" to say " I have a few friends in town"? or qualche is for persons, and alcuni is for objects?


Alcuni amici, degli amici, and qualche amico are three ways to say the same thing. Your sentence is correct. Both qualche and alcuni/alcune may replace the partitve (di + the definite article) when the partitive means a few.


So, if I get this right: alcuno amico/alcuni amici/degli amici, alcuna amica/alcune amiche/delle amiche OR qualche amico, qualche amica?


Why is city rejected!?


(American English speaker) Because in English we wouldn't say "in city" but "in the city," or "in town."


Silly me,Grazie.


I wrote "I have several friends in town" and it was marked wrong. Why?


So if "qualche" always takes the singular noun, but together they make a plural, how would one say "Some friends are in town"?

Would it be "Qualche amico sono in città"?


As I already mentioned, English has a parallel construction: many a. And qualche behaves the same way in this respect:

Many a friend is in town.

Qualche amico è in città.


Thanks! Here, have a lingot!


Seems like this sentence should have some better instruction of the concept. There needs to be an explanation why it is "amico" instead of "amici."


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.


Qualche is an invariable adjective that never changes regardless of the gender and number of the noun. It uniquely modifies a singular noun with a plural meaning.


City, town what makes the difference?


Couldn't città transfer as "(in the) City", as well as "(in) town"?


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.


I think "a friend" should be accepted because it's singular and will report


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.


Ok, thanks. I know the French "quelque", where you use the plural, and the singular put me off here!


I think is unclear. Qualche means that a plural is coming. Amico is singular. Should we say "Some friends" or "a friend" ? No way to know....there should be a hint


In this one "qualche" is "a few" PLURAL. Yet "amico" appears after it, which is SINGULAR. The translation is I have a few friends (plural) in the city. Odd. Revising my comment 1/2/16: I see by other comments that qualche takes a singular noun. Will remember that


Thank you johaquila! Have a lingot...


Why does it sound like she says "ina città" i.e., an additional syllable between the words? Is that the norm between words starting and ending with consonants?


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.


Thanks for the explanation. I listened to it again and didn't hear it at all, so maybe it was part of the testing process as you say. I'm a language professor, by the way (Spanish and French), so I'm pretty accustomed to new sounds. Cheers.


....Or maybe - it just wasn't there....


It IS possible....


why do i need the "a" ... i have few friends in town is also a valid answer yet it is marked wrong


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 see, thank you very much for your explanation :) have a lingot


thanks for the explanations!


I've written this exact sentence 3 times and it's marked wrong apparently because I dont have the accent on citta!


Seems like it should be singular


❤❤❤, why I have a few friend in city is wrong?


I wonder as well! Why DL insists ONLY on what is in their own mind? I reported that CITY should be accepted. CITTA (sorry for missing accent) = CITY, TOWN! What's wrong with CITY? Isn't it big enough? How do we know the context?


Becauae in English you would say "in the city" not "in city" in just about every comtext. Similarly "in town" would be used in the context of the town or city you are currently in; while "in the town" would most commonly be used to describe a town outside of your location. I have many friends here in Los Angeles but few friends in the town of Santa Barbara.


Friends is singular and should be plural


Qualche also means some


So, let me get this straight: Qualche = "some", as well as nessun = "none" demand a singular noun. However, alcuno = "some" / "none" demands a singular noun if it means "none", but a plural noun if it means "some"


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.


If you want to use plural amici, you can say "Ho degli amici in città." (I have some friends in town.) Google translate also suggests "Ho alcuni amici in città." (I am not sure whether Duo will accept them when translating from English to Italian.)


Duo marked "few" wrong and stated that "got" is correct. What the...


didn't citta mean city?


City must be accepted too what's wrong with them?? It has the same meaning


I have a few friends in town. - what is wrong with "I have few friends in city" ("a" is not used in the plural)


"Some" is given as a meaning for "qualche" but "some friends" was not accepted. Grrr!


I wonder if "I have few friends in the city" could be right.


Why is "I have a few friends in city" wrong?


why isn't the word amici if it means friends which is a plural?


french would be j'ai quelques amis en ville. Surely j'ai quelques ami would be wrong in french.


But the DL translation is friendS.


Why is town not city?

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