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  5. "The boy likes elephants."

"The boy likes elephants."

Translation:Al ragazzo piacciono gli elefanti.

February 26, 2013

306 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tcheard

Oh so piacciono belongs to the elephants not the boy, and that is why you use the loro piacciono rather than the lui/lei version piace?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Jrg693239

Yes. Think of it like "to appeal to". The elephants appeal to the boy.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Datsune

I think of "piacciono" as "are liked" rather than "likes": By the boy are liked the elephants. A bit like Yoda grammar.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
Mod
  • 2405

You're putting it in the passive voice. The Italian is in the active voice.

Literally, it's "To the boy are pleasing the elephants", or more naturally in English "The elephants please the boy."


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Datsune

I'm not sure what is meant by passive voice.

The preposition "a" can also mean "by" which is more fitting when trying to understand it in English.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
Mod
  • 2405

I kicked the ball -- active voice.
The ball was kicked (by me) -- passive voice.

Passive voice takes the thing the action happened to and makes it the subject, while taking the one who performed the action and downplaying it or removing it entirely.

The boy likes the elephants -- active voice.
The elephants are liked (by the boy) -- passive voice.

Italian uses active voice. "Piacere" means "to be pleasing", not "to be liked".

The elephants are pleasing to the boy -- active voice.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Yosso

Ty for clearing up this thing


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/IrenePeine

This helps. Thank you


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/fringd

why does this work like that? by the boy - they are liked - the elephants... so weird


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/f.formica
Mod
  • 2545

The simplest way to translate piacere is to intend it as "to be pleasing"; if you read it as "the elephants are pleasing to the boy" it won't seem as weird. The problem is that "piacere" describes an action coming from what in English is the object of "like"; there other verbs like that.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Notsofast

I am confused about the use of the word 'al'. Isn't it a contraction of 'at the' or 'to the'? Would it be correct to say 'il raggazzo...' as well? When should I choose 'al' as apposed to 'il'?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/f.formica
Mod
  • 2545

Yes, "al" is a contraction of "a+il"; whenever a word is introduced by a preposition you can be sure that it is neither the subject nor the direct object, as those are the cases when you'd just use "il". In this case "gli elefanti" is the subject (no preposition).


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sassicat

F.f What would we do without you. Your explanations are so helpful and clear! ;-)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Peter435682

He is like the Sitesurf of Italian!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Maurney

Problem is with the prompt. If the original prompt gave the literal translation, we would be more likely to get it. It is not so different in English if one uses the word "pleasing." "The boy likes elephants" is not really what is being said. A more accurate translation would be helpful--both in understanding Italian speech patterns and getting the right answer.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/f.formica
Mod
  • 2545

Err, that wouldn't be the most accurate translation at all; you can't go speaking broken English just because it's closer to the Italian wording. You wouldn't say "football pleases me" when asked about your hobbies.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
Mod
  • 2405

There is nothing grammatically or syntactically wrong with "Football pleases me." If anything, it's a more formal register, which is why the average person doesn't usually say it that way.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/f.formica
Mod
  • 2545

That's true, I didn't word that right; what I meant was that "to please" to me is a verb with a completely different meaning from "to like", and albeit "to please" is etymologically related to "piacere", it does not mean that. For instance, "he's eager to please" and "he's eager to be liked" are different concepts to me, although I see that online dictionaries do give "desideroso di piacere" as a translation; reverso instead has "ansioso di compiacere" (among others), which is much closer in my opinion. In the same way "I like my girlfiend" and "my girlfriend pleases me" sound different, the latter slightly creepy. But it might be down to me not being a native speaker and not knowing some of the usages of the word.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
Mod
  • 2405

I am a native speaker of American English, and to me "eager to please" very strongly implies "eager to be liked", to the point of being more or less synonymous.

To guarantee an adult meaning, you would use the verb "to pleasure", although it's rare outside of certain actively adult contexts to use it in the present tense. It is possible to read a more adult meaning into "[person] pleases me", but that's secondary to being more or less synonymous with "I like [person]".

As far as usage of "X pleases me" vs "I like X", it's common to say "This pleases me" humorously, with the speaker pretending to be a powerful or villainous character.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/RogueNinja2

I left a comment/inquiry about this a few months back. I speak spanish and I don't know how I missed the correlation here between the italian sentence and its spanish translation.

Here is the basic concept in spanish and italian: Me gusta. Mi piace. (I like it.) Me gustan. Mi piaccono. (I like them.) Once this is understood, it's easier to remember that when we are liking more than one of something we need to make this change when using this (like) particular verb.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
Mod
  • 2405

It's better to see that the pronoun is "mi" and not "io". This means something else is the grammatical subject.

Translated more literally, the verb piacere means "to please". In English, we say "I like elephants". In Italian, they say "Elephants please me".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DeeTac

Thank you, Rae.F. You're explanations are fantastic and you must have the patience of a saint!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/helen.dill

Given that we need the article "gli" before "elephants", how does one then distinquish between "the boy likes elephants" (which is the English version given) and "the boy likes the elephants" (meaning these specific elephants and not necessarily elephants in general)?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/NeldeParis

So literally, this is something like, 'To the boy, the elephants are pleasing'?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/EumorfiaK

Just going to leave the Greek translation here... "Του αγοριού αρέσουν οι ελέφαντες" Took me some time to understand...


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/f.formica
Mod
  • 2545

Yes, Italian and Greek often think alike in these matters :) Another one is "mi manchi" = "μου λείπεις" = "I miss you".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SandyDerau

I thought I understood that the verb piacciono agrees with the object, gli elefanti. But in a previous question "He doesn't like me" I lost a heart for writing "Io non gli piace." The correct answer was "Io non gli piaccio." Now I'm even more confused than before! Can someone explain why the verb agrees with the object in one sentence, but with the subject, Io, in the other?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SandyDerau

Okay, after thinking about it I can answer this myself:
Al ragazzo piacciono gli elefanti. = The elephants are pleasing to the boy--subject elephants so piacciono. Io non gli piaccio = I am not pleasing to him--subject "I" so piaccio. I was thrown by the translation "He doesn't like me" which makes "He" the subject in English.
Can anyone confirm my thinking?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SkipperPhilippe

You are correct, for simplicity reasons we always say phrases such as I like it, you like it, whereas the verb piaccere means pleasing of something. When you have the subject as He in the sentence it would change the usage of piaccere because the verb would be reflecting back on him. So they have us write it as I am not pleasing to him. Which would then be of course the io non gli piace. You could also technically write it with the proper reflexive pronouns such as non le piacce io. (Which technically is I do not please him.)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Joan555082

Is the word order really so important here? Piacciono has to go in the middle?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/f.formica
Mod
  • 2545

No, "al ragazzo gli elefanti piacciono" would be fine if you want to stress "like". "Piacciono al ragazzo gli elefanti" instead would only be used in poetry or song lyrics.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MelindaBSc

The elephants are pleasing to the boy


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tecEErbe

Why is it "al ragazzo" instead of "il ragazzo" now?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
Mod
  • 2405

Same reason it's "piacciono" and not "piacere". Please read the other comments on this page before repeating questions that have been addressed multiple times.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Tony592966

To the boy, the elephants are appealing


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/rshay

What's the difference between piace and picciono both mean likes


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
Mod
  • 2405

The verb conjugates to the subject. In this sentence, "gli elefanti" is the subject. For more details, please read the other comments on this page.


https://i.imgur.com/8atYu1Y.png


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/olga358735

It works like in Spanish grammar.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
Mod
  • 2405

Yes, it's very similar.

Spanish is "Al niño le gustan los elefantes" -- literally "To the boy, the elephants please him" or "Le gustan los elefantes" -- "The elephants please him."

Italian is "Al ragazzo piacciono gli elefanti" -- "The elephants are pleasing to the boy."


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Lee803728

I think of piaccono as 'pleases'. That way I switch the subjects and objects in my head and the word is almost a cognate.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ronald966424

So Al means to the and the man there is so many different meanings for the same word it is driving me crazy and my Italian motherinlaw says english is hard you must be joking


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
Mod
  • 2405

English has "a/an". It's not to the same degree but it's a similar principle.

Rules for the definite article:


https://i.imgur.com/aJ7Qlgb.jpg

Rules for the indefinite article:

Masculine

https://i.imgur.com/ioiRcSS.png

Feminine

https://i.imgur.com/7WZMfoO.png


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mscarson

Why can't you say "Gli elefante piacono al ragazzo"? Doesn't that translate properly as well? ("The elephants are pleasing to the boy")


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LoliChaj

Gli "elefanti", not "elefante" (plural, not singular)

"Piacciono", not "piacono" (it would be read "piakono")

Is it so diffucult to copy? :o Yes, it is possible to reverse the order of words in Italian. But the meaning can be slightly different.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rahul677977

Would "Gli elefanti piacciono al ragazzo" be correct?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
Mod
  • 2405

Yes, that's also acceptable.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Erated8

Hmm, Is The 'G' In 'Gli' Silent, Or Pronounced Like A Regular 'G', Or Something Else? Because I'm Prinouncing 'Gl' As A Voiced Alveolar Lateral Fricative, Which I'm Not Sure Is Correct.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/WendyBroug

Al ragazzo is single, so why not Il piace?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
Mod
  • 2405

Please read the comments before posting questions that have been asked and answered.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Michael871806

Why is ragazzo qualified by Al instead of Il?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
Mod
  • 2405

Same reason it's "piacciono" and not "piace". This is explained in the top comment thread on this page.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AfroditiTs8

Why not il ragazzo ??


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
Mod
  • 2405

Please read the comments before posting to see if your question has already been answered.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Stewart78186

My answer was "Gli elefanti piacciono al ragazzo". I believe the answer given by Duo is wrong being 'The elephants like the boy'.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
Mod
  • 2405

Please read the other comments. The Italian is "Al ragazzo piacciono gli elefanti", literally "The elephants are pleasing to the boy". Or as we say it in English, "The boy likes the elephants".

The verb always conjugates to the subject. Always. No exceptions, ever.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LoliChaj

your answer is ok (exactly the same, only the words' order is different), but the stress is on the elephants instead on the boy. The Duolingo answer is PERFECT.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kusuma_19

This question has 2 mistakes


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
Mod
  • 2405

Please read the other comments on this page and then explain what you think the two mistakes are.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Aidian5

Did you recently become a MOD? If so, congrats Rae!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
Mod
  • 2405

I did, thank you! ^ ^


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Aidian5

Well, you've done much to deserve it, here's a lingot for all your contributions.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
Mod
  • 2405

Aw, thank you!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Marie452741

why does not the verb ending agree with the noun"?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/f.formica
Mod
  • 2545

It does: elefanti -> piacciono. The boy here is the indirect object.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AnneWalsh13

This answer should be " al ragazzo (one boy) piace gli elefanti and not piacciono which is plural.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
Mod
  • 2405

No, it really should not. Otherwise it would be il ragazzo and not al ragazzo. This has been explain on this page a few times before. "Piacere" does not mean "to like", it means "to please". The Italian sentence literally says "The elephants are pleasing to the boy".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MonkGonzo

To say "The boy likes the elephants", you need to use the Lui/Lei, i.e., "piace" form of the verb "piacere", since the boy is the one who likes the elephants.

Using "piacciono" states "The elephants please the boy", which totally changes the meaning of the sentence.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/f.formica
Mod
  • 2545

You don't understand how piacere works, but at least someone agrees with me that to please and to be liked are different things. The subject here is "gli elefanti", plural, so you cannot use "piace", singular.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Zarrina6

It is not consistent with the previous similar sentence "Al gatto piace il latte" and if we would refer to the google translation The boy likes elephants.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
Mod
  • 2405

It's perfectly consistent.

Al gatto piace il latte ~ To the cat the milk is pleasing.
Al ragazzo piacciono gli elefanti ~ To the boy the elephants are pleasing.

In Italian, it is "il latte" and "gli elefanti" that are the subjects of the sentences. The verb agrees with the subject.

il gatto = the cat
al gatto = to the cat
il ragazzo = the boy
al ragazzo = to the boy

The subject cannot be the object of a preposition. They might appear first in the sentence, but they are not the subject.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AnneWalsh13

I am not at an advanced enough stage to have been aware of that and up to that point piacere had been used as "to like". I hadn't worked out why it was al and not il - I just thought I'd got my original thought wrong.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
Mod
  • 2405

You have made a top-level comment instead of replying directly to me. This has the potential to scatter the conversation across the page.

"Piacere" gets rendered into English as "to like" because that's how we say it in English, but it literally means "to please".
ENGLISH: I like X.
ITALIAN: To me is pleasing X.
Different language, different grammar, different ways of saying things.

Also, please read the existing comments before repeating questions that have already been asked and answered.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Chris783722

I have not made any comments on this particular exercise/ question, yet I received a personal email from you. I do not understand!? Are you following me or am I following you??? No problem on my part. I always welcome your expertise and explanations on all subjects. Just wondered how the program works, I guess. Thank you, Chris


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
Mod
  • 2405

This is the 5th comment you have made on this page over the past 5 months (although the other 4 were part of threads that got deleted).

The email you received was not from me, it was from Duolingo. Any time you comment on a thread, you get subscribed to that discussion. That means that whenever anyone comments on that page, you receive an email notification. I'm surprised you haven't been recieving notifications about any of the other comments that have been made since your first comment here 5 months ago.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Chris783722

Please read my reply to Aidian5 above. Could you please explain why those threads that you mentioned were deleted? Was there a reason behind the deletions or were they just not important enough to keep? I never noticed any rules of the road for usage of this medium. But would truly like to become aware, if you would. Thank you in advance.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rae.F
Mod
  • 2405

99% of the time, no one is in trouble when comments/comment threads get deleted. But as you can see, there are quite a large number of comments on this page--and this is after more than half of them have been removed. The point of these sentence discussions is to help one another (1) understand the grammar of the sentence better or (2) understand the language as a whole better, in that order. To make it easier for people to be able to read the comments, forum mods are tasked with going through and de-cluttering the discussion pages. Repeat questions and off-topic conversations are among the threads that get removed, especially if they're older, although occasionally an off-topic thread will be allowed to stay if it generates a fruitful discussion.

I have "mod-goggles", which is how I can see that you have commented on this page in the past. Deleting a comment, whether doing it yourself or having it removed by a mod, does not unsubscribe you from the email notifications. The only way to do that is you have to click the toggle button at the top of the page that says "FOLLOWING DISCUSSION", and then stop commenting on the page, because leaving a comment will re-subscribe you. This will not prevent you from receiving a notification if someone replies directly to one of your comments, though.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Aidian5

And you will continue to receive emails if anyone posts on this page. Duolingo updates you whenever a comment is posted on a page you have commented on. You can unsubscribe from this if you like. Hope this helps!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Chris783722

Now I understand why. Thanks for the info. I do get comments all the time in my email, but those were because I commented about that particular question. But on this " The boy likes elephants" , I have not, at least I do not see it on this page/question, and that is why I inquired and you responded. So thank you for taking the time to explain.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Chris783722

Thank you both, Aidian and Rae for the comprehensive explanations and taking the time to do so.. Now I totally I understand the rules. I do not know what each of your professional statuses are but, I feel, you are born educators.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Aidian5

Lol, I'm a highschool student, but I appreciate the kind words. :D


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/cherylitalian

I cannot agree with this. It would literally say," to the boy (they like) elephants.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/f.formica
Mod
  • 2545

Sorry, but I find it funny that you'd feel the need to agree with how a language works :P Don't get me wrong, there are many (too many) in the Italian forum that would like to change English as well, but I can't help but think that's a pretty funny attitude.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PLzZX9bO

please. it is the elephants are pleasing to the boy. al ragazzo. to the boy. gli elefanti. they are numerous, so piacciono.

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