"Vai dal meccanico?"
Translation:Do you go to the mechanic?
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I'm not a native speaker, merely a student. But I do remember a teacher saying something like this, and I always used it this way, so I think you are right. Plus, I think 'andare da' it's always used when you specify a person, a professional ecc. But there are variations like dal, dalla, dalle...
Prepositions don't follow clear rules (I have the same problems with English prepositions)
The verb "andare" can use several prepositions (a, da, con, su,...)
In this case you can use both "a" or "da", but with a different structure
• io vado dal meccanico davanti al parco (person)
• io vado all'officina davanti al parco (place)
• io vado da John (person)
• io vado a casa di John (place)
• io vado dal dottore (person)
• io vado all'ospedale (place)
There are 2 accepted answers here that are quite different in English, so it is not clear that both answers should be correct:
-Do you go to the mechanic? Means, do you normally, as a habit, go to the mechanic. Does NOT mean you are going now, or today.
-Are you going to the mechanic? means "are you going actually, to the mechanic. (not a habit...more specific)
Which english meaning is referred to by this Italian sentence. It seems this distinction is not easy to make in Italian?
he is going from his friend's to his parents' house
Lui sta andando dalla casa del suo amico alla casa dei suoi genitori
he goes from his friend's to his parents' house
Lui va dalla casa del suo amico alla casa dei suoi genitori (this translation can also be used for the previous sentence)
No native English speaker would say "Do you go to the mechanic?" unless they meant "is going to the mechanic something that you do typically?". So it is silly that it rejects "You go to the mechanic?" and "Are you going to the mechanic?" and gives this as the correct answer. So I think the some of the trouble here may be the nuances of English, not Italian.
I answered 'are you going' and it was wrong. If somebody's car breaks down, you say to them 'Are you going to the mechanic?', to which they can answer 'yes' or 'no' I thought this was the sense. If you met somebody heading towards the garage, you could ask the same, although the sense is a bit different. 'Do you go to the mechanic?' would mean 'do you go when the car breaks down rather than repairing it yourself or doing something else', to which you could reply 'yes' or 'no'. I had understood the Italian sentence to have the other meaning, not this one. French therefore differs from both Italian and English.
I think the translation software is bugged ;) You can use "andare a" with places (vado all'officina), but not with people, because you need "da" to change a person into a place (vado dal meccanico). temporalthings above is right, "da" in this context is the same as the French "chez" or the German "bei".
Yes, a good way to understand it in the sense is to thing of it in English as "chez": go chez John, chez the mechanic, etc. This sounds a bit strange, perhaps, but helps you understand the grammatical usage and sense of dal in Italian, which in this construction is similar.
Grazie mille per spiegarlo! It's similar to aller chez quelqu'un in French.
The article is not left out: "dal" is the contraction of "da" and "il" (http://italian.about.com/library/fare/blfare153a.htm). "Are you going to a mechanic?" would have been "Vai da un meccanico?".