"L'ho sentito quando suonava il violino."

Translation:I heard him when he played the violin.

February 22, 2014

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Why not: "i heard him when he was playing the violin"?


"Suonava" is imperfect, a past action on a broken (imperfect) arc of time:
1. a past repeated/habitual action
2. what was going on when something else interrupted it
3. something that was ongoing without a clear start or end

As there is no imperfect in English we somehow need to reconstruct one of these scenarios.

L' = it/him
ho sentito = I heard
quando = when
suonava ~ he/it 'used to' play / played / was playing
il violino = the violin

  1. I heard him when he used to play the violin (strange sentence?)
  2. I heard him when he played the violin (an ongoing action without clear star or end, - seams OK to me!) /
  3. I heard him when he was playing the violin (to me a past uninterrupted and unrepeated event, - perhaps ongoing . . . or ?)


Could this also be "I felt it when he played the violin"?


Why does it have to be 'I heard him' why can't it be 'I heard her'. I thought the ending only changed based on the gender if it was paired with essere rather than avere?


him=SentitO her=sentitA


Why is it not correct to say "I used to hear him when he played the violin?"


The construction "used to do smth" usually translates to passato imperfetto: l'ho sentivo quando suonava il violino.


Since the first verb in this sentence is in the perfect tense and the second verb is imperfect, why is it wrong to say 'I heard him when he used to play the violin'?


Prego! Buono studio!!


Yes, so aren't you listening as he plays? It seems to me that both verbs indicate a continued action in the past; hence, both should be imperfect. Can someone explain why this is incorrect, please?


I will try to . . .

"l'ho sentito" is passato prossimo, (a single finished action in the resent past), - in English = I heard him.

("I used to hear him", (a past repeated action), in Italian this would be in imperfetto, - "lo sentivo")

"quando suonava" is imperfetto (a past action on an imperfect arc of time, - something that is interrupted, repeated or an ongoing action with uncertain start or endpoint).

As there is no imperfect in English we have to construct something that meets these premises, e.g.:

When I heard him* he played the violin**.

* A past finished action
** A past ongoing action with uncertain start and endpoint.


Could it also be translated as: "I heard it when the violin played"? If not, how would my variant sound in italian?


I believe the sentence could mean that, but I suspect that would be "L'ho sentito quando il violino suonava," would be more nature. Here using the word order to clear up that ambiguity.

Also, your sentence makes no sense, at least in English, as violins do not play, they are played.


Thanks a lot for the answer! But in Italian it has, right? And in russian we also speak this way (without the passive voice), that's why I asked.


I have also translated it as "the violin played". Suonare can be both transitive and intransitive. But I take it that it's incorrect in English...


It's not entirely correct as you're referring to "it". I never heard a machine or an animal playing the violin.


You know, me either! I think, we've missed something in this life :)) "It" in that sentence means the "sound of the violin" and not an animal or whatever!


It's technically correct if that's the case :) (Io) lo ho (referred to to the sound of the violin) sentito quando (someone) suonava il violino.


That's it! So, my supposition wasn't wrong! :) But if it's correct only technically, then nobody says it in italian this way? How should one say it to be more suitable for a native speaker?


Well a native speaker would say something like: "Ho sentito il suono di un violino" or "Ho sentito un violino suonare" (in both cases we usually specify what object we were hearing at the moment)


So what does the l'ho/l'hai thing mean again?


In a more easy way to understand.


L'ho = lo + ho, l'hai = lo + hai. l'ho sentito = lo ho sentito = I heard him (it). Lo hai sentito = you heard him (it).


I saw, I just want to know what the 2 words translate to.


The arties are killing me! :-8 Sometimes there is one in English but not in Italian and vice versa...:-P


... as well as my typing skills :-) Of course, what's killing me are ARTICLES, not arties. So frustrating when you loose a heart because of pressing a backspace instead of an L :-)


My understanding is that sentito/ a needs to agree with the subject, i.e, the speaker's gender and the pronoun, l' before ho, indicates the violin player's gender. Is that wrong?


So why isn't 'heard' translated with the imperfect here? 'Was playing' implies continued hearing.


Not really. He was playing the violin, and I was passing by and heard him.


What is wrong with «I heard it when he played the violin»? :-(


I agree with FrancesDav3: The first verb in this sentence is in the perfect tense and the second verb is imperfect, why is it wrong to say 'I heard him when he used to play the violin'?


In a straight, word by word, translation I think that is possible . . .

But as "I heard him" is a single past and finished action while "when he used to play" is a habitual or several times repeated action I think it is kind of strange. To me, it implies that "I" had a very long listening session while "he" played the violin over and over again.

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