"Fish live in water."
Translation:I pesci vivono nell'acqua.
We say, "Fish live in the water" as a general state of being.
If we say, "The fish live in the water" it sounds to my native American English ear that we're going to find out "but they die out of water."
I feel Duolingo is being inconsistent in this - fish v the fish, pesci v i pesci
It's not that Duo is inconsistent here, it's that Italian is inconsistent with English. Both Italian and English use the definite article to refer to a specific one, portion or set of something. That's your example with The fish. But Italian also uses the definite article when making a generalizing statement like this. This is talking about the "all". There are greater consequences than just this, but this does mean that any object or "thing" that is the subject of the sentence will have a definite article. I pesci vivono nell'acqua is the translation for both Fish live in water and The fish live in water. Obviously the first option is by far the more likely in this case, but in many cases only the context with show the difference.
But Duo is being inconsistent, as I just posted about a prior example in this same lesson - i.e. "the chicken'. There have been numerous examples where the article was omitted when referring to items in a general sense, rather than a particular one. The sentence was "Fish live in water", not "The fish".
The verb should have told you as well as the lack of an article. If you are talking about a single fish, you would have to say either A fish liveS... Or The fish liveS (or some other indicator at to which fish) Starting the sentence without an article in English means that you are making a generalization and generalizing is talking about the all. Combining that with the plural verb, it was all there for those who looked.
Yes, there are situations where the article isn't necessary; for instance "sono in macchina" (I'm/they're generically inside a car) vs "sono nella macchina" (I'm/they're inside the car - what car your interlocutor knows) vs "sono in una macchina" (I'm/they're inside a car - but one your interlocutor doesn't know). When to use the article isn't always obvious though :)
Btw note that just like there are both il and lo for masculine nouns, so there are their respective compounds nel and nello; you decide which to use based on the same rules.
In modern English the plural of "fish" is usually just "fish", except when talking about different kinds of fish, in which case "fishes" is used.
On the other hand, in English generalizations use plurals without article ("fish", "fishes"). As I understand, in Italian only plurals with definite article could be used ("i pesci").
- fish = pesce (singular)
- fish/fishes = pesci (plural)
- fish/fishes = i pesci (generalization)
There was a question earlier in the course where, because they were asking "live" in the geographical sense, "vivono" was wrong and "abitono" was right. This is also in the geographical sense, but here "abitono" is wrong and "vivono" is right. It's inconsistencies like this that make me want to stop using this website
It's not an inconsistency, it's just two different but similar meanings of two different words. Abitano is more like "have their habitat in", whereas vivono is more general, like you live in X country.
LanfrancoM2 explained it really well: Abitare is specific and usually used for people
Io vivo a Roma e abito in via appia 10
I pesci vivono nell'acqua e gli uomini vivono sulla terra
For common usage, the plural of fish is fish. It functions like an uncountable noun in English, so you may see fishes in discussion of different species of fish, just as you might see a discussion of the coffees of the world. Of course The Godfather popularized the expression "sleep with the fishes". That actually came from the movie, not the book, and was supposed to represent an Italian expression - where you would see I pesci.
Italian requires the definite article whenever you are making a generalizing statement about something. This is one place where we never use the article in English. This means that an Italian subject must have the article. Either you are talking about a specific one or set, as in English, or you are generalizing about something like here. But it is not only subjects that are generalizing. It is one of the major differences in the use of the definite article between Italian and English.
Fishes just isn't correct English. Fish is both singular and plural in English. As for whether to include the word "the" in English, both would be correct. English doesn't include the definite article when generalizing about ALL fish. But that's exactly the case where Spanish does that tends to confuse English speakers.
The rules in Italian concerning the use of the definite article are not the same as the English rules. This sentence is an example of the most difficult difference for English speakers to learn. In English we don't use the definite article when we generalize about something as a whole. These generalizing statements use the singular for uncountable nouns and the plural for countable nouns. This is where Italian always does require an article. Since a sentence is either about a specific one, portion or set of something, which would use the definite article in both languages, or a general statement about an assumed "all", which requires the article in Italian but shuns it in English, the subject of any Italian sentence will always have the article. But there are also other sentences where we generalize about something that isn't the subject, so that's not the full extent of the problem for English speakers. If you assume the same rules in Italian that exist in English, you will get into trouble a good percentage of the time.
Fish and fishes are both listed as correct plurals in both the Oxford English dictionary and Merriam Webster. In the United States you almost never hear fishes except for Biblical references to the loaves and fishes. Despite being officially correct, I think almost every American child is taught that fish is the plural of fish without learning fishes, although most words can have a plural even if it isn't used for the plural most of the time. Essentially we treat the word as if it were uncountable.
Italian prepositions have a base form and then combine with the various articles to form a compound preposition. In is the base form. In all the compound forms, in loses the i. Nell is in + il, but there is also nella, nello, nei, etc.
It's not quite as clear cut in Italian as in Spanish. But any time you have anything but a proper name as the subject of a sentence, it will have an article. When dealing with "some" Italian does use a partitive article and sometimes the definite article, which makes it less clear. But Italian always uses the definite article when generalizing or talking about the "all" in any way, which by definition would include any case where an object is the subject of a sentence (unless you use the indefinite article). This is the biggest difference since English never uses an article in these cases.
In this case the article is absolutely important. Italian uses the article when generalizing about something. It's one of the times we never use the definite article in English. It can take a little practice to tell when a use is a generalizing one. But one tip should make it easier. You will never see a noun as the subject of an Italian sentence without the definite article. So both the English sentence Fish live in water and The fish live in water will be I pesci vivono nell'acqua. That part makes it easy at least.
Well you may have identified yet another reason why I struggle with Portuguese so much, but this is like Spanish at least. This is the case where Italian requires the definite article and English cannot use one - when generalizing or talking about the "all". From the fact that there is no article in the English, we know that we are making a generalization about what fish do, what all fish do. In Italian that requires the article. If we were to add the article to the English, we would know we were talking about either an individual fish (The fish lives) or about a specific set of fish that is the topic (The fish live). Of course this is one of those oddball English words where the singular form and the plural form is the same, you just change to a plural verb. Sheep is another. The only reason I mentioned this is because this obscures the normal rule for understanding a generalization. When you generalize about an uncountable noun, you use the singular (Coffee is bitter), but when you generalize about a countable noun, it has to be plural (Flowers are pretty). Therefore, the sentence Flower is (whatever) is necessarily wrong in English. Since we are talking about a specific flower, the article is required. Once you understand that, it becomes clear that a noun subject of an Italian sentence will always have an article unless it uses a different determiner. There are some sentences where you are essentially are generalizing about something in the preterite. In English, sentences about liking something are like that, but Italian makes that one easy, at least, by making the object of the English sentence the subject of the Italian one. But there are other cases in Italian. But it's easy to remember that the subject of the sentence always has a determiner in Italian. But you will have to rely on the context in a real life situation to understand whether Il caffè è armaro means Coffee is bitter or The coffee is bitter.