- Thanks for your comment johaquila but I did not translate the sentence that way. I thought it could be translated as "They are your butterflies" (one continuous sentence and meaning your, not yours) where "your" was the formal form of sue ( as opposed to the informal "tue").
I see. Well, you wrote the possessive noun "yours" in your comment, not the possessive adjective "your". Which would have made perfect sense in this context because sue does have both alternative meanings and I can't think of any correct translation involving "yours". So I assumed that you meant what you wrote.
I agree that "They are your butterflies" is a correct translation. And I think the most likely meaning of this sentence is probably "They are your farfalle", as said by restaurant staff.
Thanks again Johaquila and sorry for posing my question in a misleading/confusing way. I need to be more careful as I am discovering learning a language is very much about understanding the subtleties of how words are put together. I really appreciate that you take time to help people like me.
The answer I gave was "They are its butterflies" because the owner of the butterflies was never specified, but it was marked incorrect. Isn't it true that without context, Sono le sue farfalle can mean They are its butterflies, they are her butterflies, or they are his butterflies? I know they are its butterflies doesn't sound great, but it's grammatically correct, so shouldn't duolingo accept the translation?
There is no such thing as a "possessing verb" and sue is the possessive for plurals, not for feminine objects . But yes, the ending of the possessive suo/sua/sue changes in the same way that articles do (un/una/[nothing] and il/la/le). This may be counterintuitive for English speakers because Italian has given up the other possible distinction (between his and her), which is the only one that still exists in English.
For me as a native German speaker it's perfectly straightforward in both languages because in each case one aspect gets simplified. So the following little excursion into German may help:
- sein Sekretär = his secretary = il suo segretario
- seine Sekretärin = his secretary = la sua segretaria
- seine Sekretäre = his secretaries = le sue segretari (think of this as simplified from sui segretarii)
- seine Sekretärinnen = his secretaries = le sue segretarie
- ihr Sekretär = her secretary = il suo segretario
- ihre Sekretärin = her secretary = la sua segretaria
- ihre Sekretäre = her secretaries = le sue segretari (think of this as simplified from sui segretarii)
- ihre Sekretärinnen = her secretaries = le sue segretarie
Or maybe it becomes clearer if you also consider my = mio/mia/mie and your[singular] = tuo/tua/tue.
It's actually because you're referring to the number of hours and in this case it's two hours - plural - and so you use sono, not è. Its the same here with the butterflies, as a plural it requires both 'sono' in Italian and 'they are' in English. In English we'd never say 'it is her butterflies' as thats just grammatically incorrect.
No, the possessive is chosen according to the owner(s). In this sentence, the owner is he or she (or possibly it). Therefore, the possessive must be his or her (or possibly its).
A natural mistake for native speakers of some non-Indoeuropean languages is to make the possessive agree with the owned thing(s). In this case that would be they, so the possessive would be their. But that's definitely wrong.
The possessive has nothing to do with the subject of the sentence:
- "Her butterflies love her." - Subject is her butterflies.
- "She loves her butterflies." - Subject is she.
- "He loves her and her butterflies." - Subject is he.
It is always her butterflies in these examples because she is always the owner.
http://italian.about.com/library/weekly/aa051000a.htm This will help you. Merry Christmas :)
My question is, how am i supposed to know if the person i am speaking about is a man or a woman in this sentence, seeing as there is no context? This is just a standalone question that isn't part of a larger conversation, so how would anyone know whether to say a masculine or a feminine word? Thanks.
From the point of view of pure grammar, all of the following translations are correct:
- They are his butterflies.
- They are her butterflies.
- They are your butterflies. [polite form of address]
- I am his butterflies.
- I am her butterflies.
- I am your butterflies. [polite form of address]
And the same sentences with "farfalle [pasta]" instead of "butterflies". ("Farfalle" is a common pasta shape.)
The last three sentences should be excluded as absurd. That still leaves three (times two) options with no way to decide between them. Without context we have free choice between them. They should all be accepted. If one is not accepted, it means that the database of correct answers is still incomplete. If you are using the web interface, you will get a form where you can propose your answer as an additional correct answer.