"He works as a mailman."
Translation:Lavora come postino.
I used "lavora come un postino" and was marked incorrect. it is confusing to know when or not to add the article!
There is a differece in meaning if you add "un" in the italian sentence.
"Lavora come postino" = "He works as a mailman" (he is a mailman)
"Lavora come un postino" = "He works like a mailman" (he is not a mailman)
"His work resembles that of a mailman" or
"He works a lot (little) like a mailman" or
"His working hours are like those of a mailman"
Is the article really needed in Italian? In this context, it wouldn't be used in other Romance languages. "Lavora come un postino" looks like it should be translated: He works like a mailman. Thoughts?
Yes, it's as you say: in Italian it's either "lavora come postino" (formal), "fa il postino" (informal), or "è un postino".
Can you say "lui fa un postino"? An earlier question said that "my mother is a secretary" was "mia madre fa una segretaria." So does the same pattern work for "he works as a mailman?"
No, "mia madre fa una segretaria" is wrong too (and dangerously close to a slang way to say she has sex with a secretary).
Oh my goodness! I can see that a literal translation would probably be something like "my mother does/makes a secretary." I can see how that might be suggestive of having sex with a secretary! So how would I say "my mother is a secretary" properly?
If you want to use "fare", which is the most common way to express it, you must use a definite article, as you're indicating the general category of what she does for a living, so "mia madre fa la segretaria"; of course the generic "mia madre è una segretaria", which focuses on who she is rather than what she does, works as well. The one presented in this exercise is a more formal way to say it, "mia madre lavora come segretaria", and it focuses on her current occupation, much like "fare il/lo/la".
P.S. "Fare il/lo/la" can sometimes be used for other than occupations: for instance "fare il portoghese" literally means "playing the Portuguese", or trying to pass as one, and after a certain incident it means trying to avoid paying.
maybe you wanted to say: "Lui fa un postino", but that means: "he is building a postman" or "he is disguised as a postman"
jatedesco: No, with professions, using "a" or "as a" then the article is usually omitted. That said, unless it's a typo, "fa in postino" makes no sense. Maybe you meant "fa IL postino", but that's not correct since as you say, "a" is used, not "the".
But fa il is a correct idiom, and Duo just accepted it. There are three ways to identify a person's job in Italian: è [un] postino; lavora come postino; fa il postino. Think "I am ..."; "I work as ..."; "My job/role is ...". Essere il postino, rather than fare, refers to the postman in a given context, e.g. your street.
okay so now i know "come" means 'as' and "come un" is 'like a' ... thx everyone :)