"used to change" would indicate that he had a habit of changing his name, which doesn't generally make sense. By saying "was changing", it indicates that at some point in the past, he was changing his name, without any indication whether this action was completed or when. It's just an action happening at some point in the past.
But, if the sentence was referring to a thief who had this habit, It would be correct to say " Lui cambiava il suo nome" or there is another way to say it?
No. That would be the correct answer. If we were talking about some thief. Here they should accepted "He used to change his name" and they also should not offer the translation "He would change his name" because in Italian that belongs to the Condizionale.
The condizionale applies to sentences like 'He would change his name if...'. What is intended here are sentences like 'Whenever this or that happened, he would change his name'.
im confused, wouldnt the single action of changing your name in the past have to be completed by the present, and therefore require the past perfect? so wouldnt this sentence only ever refer to a person who was in a habit of changing his name?
It would also refer to someone who was in the course of doing so, i.e. past continual.
Having a habit of changing your name makes sense if you're Ron Artest / Metta World Peace / The Pandas Friend ;)
Why can't I use "used to" here? Isn't it the best way to suggest that he did it in the past but doesn't do it anymore?
I was puzzled by this. Changing one's name is a completed, definite action. Why is it imperfect? I could understand it if it had a clause following, like "He was changing his name when his father pleaded with him not to do it", but as is, it seems like a bad example. Thoughts?
Whereas I would agree that "He used to change his name." might be an unusual sentence, "used to do such and such" is a correct use of the imperfect. Goodness knows that Duolingo has introduced a number of phrases that have little to do with current usage in English, and I am no more convinced by the logic of "he was changing his name" than the equally strange but perfectly correct "He used to change his name." Try this, "Whether he was speaking to friends, family or teachers at school, he used to change his name from Bobby, to Rob or to Robert." I am a native speaker (UK).
This is all considered a silly sentence. Some people gave very good explanations of it before but the fact remains that something as personal as someone's name is not something you regularly change (unless you're Prince). Can't they replace the sentence for something more convincing? " The light used to change every hour in this room" " The color of the candy changed " " While we were moving (=cambiare casa), he fell of a ladder" etc.
The suggested translation makes no sense. Using the past progressive is wrong, because it conveys the idea that at least a second simultaneous event occurred simultaneously with the first one.
He was changing his name when the computing system collapsed.
Abshirdi: And DL offers 'used to change' as the 3rd option in hints... 31Aug15
I interpret this like - I saw him at court and he was in the process of changing his name. But it makes sense, too, in the plain old past tense. He changed his name. I wrote it this way and it was accepted.
I still do not understand he changed his name he was changing his name- both are correct but have different meanings, can someone please explain
"He changed his name" out of context implies a 1 time action. Robert Zimmermann changed his name to Bob Dylan. In a more complete context you might hear: "He changed his name every time the police were close to identifying him." As Caterinabella says above, "he was changing his name..." implies the actual process as in her example. Not to complicate it, but the imperfect could also be expressed as "He used to change his name...often to avoid the police," for example. Or finally even "He would change his name...whenever the police were on his trail," referring to a habitual action in the past.
to me this, in terms of meaning, is much more suitable for a present perfect example. when you have changed your name it is usually something that is still relevant in the present because you NOW have a different name.
lauritz: I tend to agree with you. Also as others have said, changing one's name is not something habitual, it happens and it's done with.
"He changed his name" implies or at least sounds like a one time action which would not warrant the imperfect. It'd use the present perfect. The implication for me is that 'He used to change his name" -- describing someone with lots of aliases, someone on the run.
Saying that, I am 52 years old and have never once in my life said "he was changing his name"!!!!!
Tony: Think of a gigolo who's also a feminist who's taken his wife's name each and every time he's married and divorced. "He was changing his name...every 2-3 years, the old rooster!" Ok, so maybe not. How about a con artist as I suggested earlier, with a history of multiple aliases, "whence" the abbreviation aka. :-)
I always think like a gigolo... and I have still never said this. It just doesn't happen in English no matter how much you want it to!!!
If the sentence said "he was changing his name on a daily basis" maybe I could accept it...but it doesn't, so it is not proper spoken English.
He changed his name... I keep wondering why the simple past could not be usef
Wille, "He changed his name" suggests a 1 time action which would properly be expressed by the present perfect -- 'ha cambiato il suo nome.' The imperfect suggests that changing his name involved a process over time.
Wille, I agree, but check my scenario above -- someone on the lam or with a job like Jason Bourne!
I wrote "He had changed his name," and while I know now this was incorrect in terms of tense, Duo suggested "He'd change his name," which in English implies "He would change his name" ---also the incorrect tense.
After trying to emphasise the difference between the two main forms of past tense in Italian this is confusing. If it was a single action wouldn't "Ha cambiato il suo nome" be a better translation? Also the translation to English above "He was changing his name" implies an incomplete act, such as "He was changing his name, when something distracted him"
Andrea: You're correct. I thought of the sentence using this tense as implying the person was in the habit of changing his name -- granted not a very logical action, but if you think of someone with lots of aliases, you can make a case for it.
You re mixing up the passato prossimo and the imperfetto so the translations often aren't correct
Why is "He has changed his name" marked wrong and he was changing his name is consider right. Changing one's name is not a process but an event
Firstly, it certainly involves a process! For a start, you have to apply to the Registro Civil. It looks as if it might take quite a while to do it, so one might well want to use the imperfect tense. Secondly the sentence might refer to eg a criminal using various aliases over a period of time: again the imperfect tense would be appropriate.