"È difficile conoscere se stessi."

Translation:It is difficult to know ourselves.

February 25, 2013

This discussion is locked.


I'm still confused, if someone could help me. I've read that stesso is an emphatic form of reflexive pronoun. "Stessi" is plural and "se" is 3d person. So it would seem to me that "se stessi" would translate to "themselves". "Ourselves" is 1st person plural and "oneself" is 3d person singular. If it is an idiomatic expression which can cover any of the cases, then that is fine too. I'd just like to know. Thanks.


as you have said, "se" is a third person reflexive pronoun, but as f.formica pointed out, this sentence emphasizes more on the "self" idea of "se" while "stesso" adds strength to it. I hope that helps... when translating these kind of sentences, I find it easier to first think of how you might say it in English, and then go back and look at the context to see if it makes sense. :)


So why is 'It is difficult to understand each other' wrong? Isn't stessi plural?


Ahhhh. Io capisco! You may be confusing "se stessi" as an Italian reciprocal verb (to get to the English translation of each other)! "In Italian we express reciprocal actions by using a plural reflexive pronoun (ci, vi, si), plus a corresponding plural verb form (noi, voi, loro)." (e.g., noi ci baciamo.) I hope I solved your confusion... maybe someone else can verify?

Here's a link on Italian reciprocal verbs: http://tutorino.ca/grammatica/2007/4/2/saying-each-other-italian-reciprocal-verbs.html


thank you, I did misunderstand. I thought from the conversation above that you and f. Formica were saying that this is reflexive .. after rereading I see that he is saying 'se' is not the stressed clitic reflexive si, but rather just part of se stessi. Correct?


Giusto! Bravo! :)


But, if that is true, should it not be thus: È difficile conoscere ci stessi?


Very helpful! grazie di Amburgo con un lingot


If "It is difficult to know oneself" is correct, then why is "It is difficult to know yourself" incorrect? Yourself can mean both another person's self, or your own.


April 5th, 2015, "It is difficult to know yourself" is accepted. Happy Easter!


Know thyself? If I knew myself I would run away. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


Sorry - being very thick here - can someone give me the translation of "se"/tell me what part of the language it is?


It's the reflexive third person pronoun "sé": it can be spelled without the accent when followed by "stesso" and derivatives. Being reflexive, sé already includes the "self" idea, and "stesso" only strengthens it.


Thanks for the reply formica. I have a list of reflexives but can find in mine only "si" which is what puzzled me. "se" isn't by any chance a "personal object pronoun - strong" is it, where I have found se (excuse lack of accent here). A grammar of mine says "These pronouns are called "strong" because they create emphasis in the sentence.They are used only after a preposition or a verb"

Apologies again if I'm being thick - entirely possible.


PS - have also found it in another grammar listed as a "disjunctive pronoun". Oh the horrors of grammar, and in particular Italian pronouns!


Haha, you have a point :)

"Si" is the clitic version of the reflexive pronoun, so for some examples:

  • Io mi lavo (I wash) -> Io lavo me stesso
  • Lui si lava (he washes) -> lui lava se stesso

  • Io faccio da me (io do by myself, i.e. I don't need help)

  • Lui fa da sé (here "stesso" would be redundant).


Many thanks formica - back to the pronoun tables for me, though I have a feeling that lots of DL exercises to give me context might be more useful.


My question is wouldn't it be a more correct equivalent for "ourselves" to say "È difficile conoscere noi stessi," or even "È difficile ci conoscere"? I'm just comparing the Spanish "Es difícil conocernos."


"È difficile conoscerci"; the clitic is affixed to infinitives, as in Spanish I guess. If you were translating from English that would be correct, but that's just one of the possible interpretations of this Italian sentence; English simply doesn't have any equivalent impersonal pronoun.


I am not sure, but it seems to me the sentence is the general statement, that it is easier to know another person than to know the person in the mirror, because each of us is too biased, too afraid or too wishfully thinking and - too close.

In German I would immediately go for se stessi* means "sich selbst" in this context and if I had to translate that into English first choice would be "oneself" and in a more engaged dialog with a close friend may be "yourself". I wouldn't dare to make such a statement for "them", "her", "him" or "us". In my opinion the neutral (myself including) "oneself" fits best to the general statement.

*corrected from stesso to stessi


"understand" instead of "know" wouldn't work?


'Understand' is better translated from: 'capire' or 'comprendere'


I don't see why not... Both know and understand are synonymous in this sentence. Maybe try reporting it?


I don't know but I think "to understand" tends to have a psychologically deeper meaning rather than just "to know", doesn't it?



Philosophy with Duolingo.


I've followed all these arguments, and I still haven't a clue what the sentence means. How can it possibly translated as "It is difficult to know themselves", as DL says? That is a total nonsense. Maybe the best translation is: "It is difficult to guess what the right answer is."


I thought 'se' means 'if' also?


Why isn't it se stesso, se stessa, or noi stessi? "se stessi" is not included in the dictionary. https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/italian-english/stessi


It should be "E' difficile conoscere noi stessi", not "E' difficile to know se stessi", 'se stessi' means themselves.


"It is difficult to know thyself " can this also be a possible translation?

EDIT : "It is difficult to know oneself" is also accepted.


"Stessi" is plural; although the subject is rhetorical, and the sentence can be intended as a quote, so I think your translation should work as well.


Thyself? That sounds extremely archaic. I don't think it's correct.


Why is "It is difficult to know yourselves" marked as wrong?


because it's se stessi and the se implies noi not voi


Is the "c" in "conoscere" really silent, or is it an audio error? I reported it anyway, since the silent "c" didn't make sense to me in Italian.


Non so se nel frattempo hanno sostituito la registrazione, ma io la "c" la sento eccome! :-)


se stessi is this sentence's confusion. "Se" follows the verb to know (someome, etc compared to sapere to know (how to do something, etc) So reflective si changes to se when follows verb, or object of preposition or for emphasis. and the plural of stesso , stessi, follows se.


If the discussion of f.formica and silkwarrior above isn't enough, try the section called "Principal Translations" in this link. Se can be used with or without the accent to reflect upon oneself. http://www.wordreference.com/iten/se


So se is si but it is se since it follows the verb? If se is ourselves, and not noi version, then what is themselves?


Know thyself? If I knew myself I would run away. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


I thought conosco was I understand and so was I know. Shouldnt this be è difficile sapere se stessi?


It is my understanding that sapere = to know a fact, conoscere = to know about (equivalent to the difference between savoir and connaitre in French)


How does si stessi mean ourselves or oneself


Why does se imply noi here? Given that stessi is plural, couldn't it also imply voi?


what would be " it is difficult to know myself" the answer I go was "it is difficult to know oneself" isn't this the same meaning. ??


It seems more like an idiomatic expression to me.


DL said "themselves" which didn't make sense. (8/08/17)


9/25/17 It still doesn't.


How do I know when to use words that translate to know.


how would you say themselves in this sentence? :)


"Noi stessi" wouldn't be more literally correct here???


So, would I be dead wrong if I wrote this is, "È difficile conoscere NOI stessi."? Duo allowed for, "It is difficult to know oneself." but that too seems to me that it might translate better as "se stesso/stessa."


Just for the record, Google Translator seems to believe that "È difficile conoscere NOI stessi" is just fine. If so, it tends to make a simpler sense and removes the need to labor over obscure grammar. Do any Italian speakers know if this is, in fact, and grammatically acceptable translation?


you can't rely on GGL translations.


I think "oneselves" should be allowed


"oneself", perhaps - but I don't think "oneselves" is a word.


What does that mean

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