"a" or "ad" (the latter can be used when a vowel follows) is a preposition introducing a number of indirect objects: it mostly translates "at" and "to", but it isn't limited to that. For instance:
"Do un libro a lui": I give a book to him
"Vado a Roma": I go to Rome
"Sono al ristorante": I'm at the restaurant
"Ad agosto": In August
"Serve a lui": It's needed by him (in Italian this is called complemento di termine and it's the same as with "piacere")
"Vado a vedere": I go to check (it indicates purpose and requires a verb in infinitive)
There are more but it only gets more rare and specific. Glad it helped, I hope I didn't make it too complicated now :)
'the tea is pleasing to him' is a mnemonic trick you can use to remember the Italian structure but it's in no way a good translation for gli piace il tè.
The reason is that 'X is pleasant to Y' would never be used in a normal conversation whereas 'Y likes X' is extremely common. So if you use 'X is pleasant to Y' you are not actually translating/conveying 'Y likes X' but sometging else.
Amen Fratello. It didn't allow 'to him, the tea is pleasing' - a rearrangement of your verison - either. It's times like this when Duo seems to be trying to give us lessons in English, rather than Italian. And forgetting that we're native English speakers is rather insulting.
In Italian's perspective, following your logic, English would be the passive one.
In summary, unless one considers his way of looking at things as universal, there is no reason to call a language "passive structured" just because it activates the pleasing/liked and objectifies the pleased/liking or because it objectifies the pleasing/liked and activates the pleased/liking. We can only say that one language has reverse voice focus relatively to the other one regarding a given relation between two things (in this case: pleasing relation) so it has to have a transitive verb using one argument as a subject and the other as the object.
This wouldn't be the same because this would mean "He pleases the tea". The verb piace is not the verb to like. It is rather similar to the verb to please. Il tè here is the subject, it is placed at the end to look natural to English speakers, otherwise it can be placed at the beginning of the sentence.
I am italian
90% of italian words with accent use the left-facing accent (╰ ) (grave)
"Perché" (why/because) uses the right-facing accent ( ╯) (acuto),
but in my opinion, few people in italy know the real difference in pronounciation, maybe some TV announcers or theatrical actors
-Official site in italian language-
-Site in English language-
In Italian, a word can only have one accent (unlike French!)
Vowels, a, i, o and u can only have grave accents (`).
The letter 'e' is the only one that can also have a grave accent (è) or an acute accent (é).
- The accent helps you to pronounce the word. The stress is where the accent is.
Leaving the accent out is considered a mistake and misspelling.
Native speakers put them as soon as they place the letter. (Follow their example!)
I am still struggling to understand how to use or translate the article. In the example it is translated as 'He likes tea' but the Italian is 'il tè' which I would understand as 'the tea' and I would, therefore, infer that we are talking about some specific tea that we are drinking or have drunk. If the given translation is correct then we are talking about tea in general terms.
That's not entirely true.
For example: le mucche respirano aria, le mucche producono latte, le mucche mangiano erba, le mucche ascoltano musica.
If you were to use the article in these cases, you would refer to specific aria, latte, erba, musica, whereas without the article, these terms are generic.
I am unfortunately unable to supply any online explanation for this nor can I give a more precise rule.
Good point! Although I disagree that "le mucche mangiano l'erba" is specific, to me it can be generic as well (and I would assume that out of context). Treccani mentions "In termini generali, un sintagma nominale senza articolo (definito «nudo» in Renzi 1985) è mal tollerato in posizione di soggetto di una frase indipendente dichiarativa; mentre, si è visto, può essere ammesso in posizione di oggetto" (td;dr it can be acceptable sometimes to not have an article for an object), but it doesn't give specific rules, other than it's often similar to the partitive: "L’articolo zero è stato talora equiparato al partitivo, del quale condividerebbe la funzione di esprimere indeterminatezza e quantità (pur con un grado minore di specificità; cfr. Korzen 1996)". But "le mucche mangiano erba" can be interpreted as both "le mucche mangiano dell'erba" (right now) or "le mucche mangiano l'erba" (in general).
Exactly, piacere is one of those verbs where the subject follows the action. The tea (subject) is pleasing to him. Lui is the receiver of the action to please (piace). Lui is not the subject of this sentence but the object. Your literal translation is correct. But in English we understand it as, "he likes tea". I hope this helps.
Nice analysis, but wrong nonetheless; Italian word order is flexible to some extent, so "a lui piace il tè", "il tè piace a lui", or even the uncommon "il tè a lui piace" and "a lui il tè piace", all mean "he likes tea". "The tea likes him" would be "lui piace al tè" or "al tè piace lui".
It would seem from this that the placement of the preposition 'a' (and it's variations) determines which is the indirect object. Where "a lui piace il tè" would mean "the tea pleases him" and "lui piace al tè" would mean "the tea is pleased by him". Is this correct? And what is the correct use of Gli/le vs. a/al?
"Gli" is the clitic version of "a lui" (and popularly of "a loro"), "le" of "a lei"; so they mean the same thing, but the clitic has a fixed place in the word order, unlike the stressed/disjunctive pronoun. People normally use the clitic pronoun, unless there's a strong reason to stress the object, e.g. "a lui piace il tè, a me no" - "he likes tea, I don't"; or with a different emphasis "il tè piace a lui, non a me" - "he likes tea, not I".
As for "a", yes, that's usually the preposition used to introduce an indirect object; in Italian it's known as complemento di termine.