"La cena è in tavola."

Translation:Dinner is on the table.

March 1, 2013



Why is table sometimes masculine, tavolo, and sometimes feminine, tavola? My Berlitz dictionary shows both forms, and I have been marked wrong on a few occasions in Duolingo. I would appreciate hearing from someone who really knows. Thanks.

March 1, 2013


"La cena è in tavola" is an idiom. Another correct translation for "Dinner is on the table" would be "La cena è sul tavolo".

Out of idioms, "tavolo" is more common. We use always tavola in the following cases, for example

"I cavalieri della tavola rotonda"

"la tavola da surf"

"andiamo a tavola"

"cosa c'è in tavola?"

If you stick to "tavolo", it should be ok, but pay attention because the prepositions could differ.

March 1, 2013


So "I cavalieri della tavola rotonda", "la tavola da surf", "andiamo a tavola" and "cosa c'è in tavola?" are all idioms? What do they mean?

July 1, 2013


Knight of the Round Table The surfboard We go to the table What is there in the table?

In that order

July 22, 2013


Wouldn't "andiamo a tavola" translate as "let's go eat" and "cosa c'è in tavola?" as "what's for [breakfast/lunch/dinner]?" ?

July 28, 2014



May 12, 2016


So I tried "Dinner is served" out of curiosity. My proposed English is also a bit idiomatic, as in it's an overly formal way of saying that dinner is on the table. I'll report it (26 June 2016) as a suggestion just to get someone's attention, but I'm definitely open to the Italian having a different connotation.

I also considered "Dinner is ready," but to me that has a connotation that all the food is prepared and cooked, but may still be on the stove/in the oven and not, yet, on the table. (On my overly optimistic mom's side of the family "dinner is ready" meant we still had another half an hour before we were actually ready to eat it.)

June 26, 2016


02/06/2017 "Dinner is served" is still not accepted.

February 6, 2017


Thank you! Very helpful.

March 1, 2013



August 24, 2017


In addition to marziotta's explanation I'll add that my Italian friend explained to me that 'tavola' essentially refers to a table that is participating in the event of dining, rather than to a simple piece of furniture. This description helped me a lot with this type of phrase.

March 20, 2013


I noticed that myself and have been remembering it that way ever since, It seems to work.

April 30, 2013

  • 2104

Thanks so much, this has been really helpful :)

January 26, 2014


Great explanation! !

January 14, 2015


Thanks for such a clear explanation. It's now been ingrained.

January 21, 2016


That helped me so much. Thank you.

February 17, 2016


As I read somewhere tavolo is the table it self and tavola is the table with food on it...didnt see that in any other languages

July 26, 2019


I didn't read all 70+ responses, so this may have been answered. Tavola = a table prepared for eating, tavolo is for all others.

March 3, 2019

September 21, 2014


An Italian cooking show hostess always says at show's end: "Tutti a tavola a mangiare!"

August 16, 2016


Great article! Thanks for sharing the link.

January 21, 2016


Why is it "in tavola" and not " sulla tavola"?

March 21, 2015


Apparently that's correct as well.

October 15, 2016


It's an idiom

September 4, 2017


I said "dinner's on the table." Since this was meant sort of idiomatically anyway, this should be accepted.

June 6, 2014


Same! My mom would have never bothered shouting "Dinner is on the table!" unless she was really mad. It's definitely more colloquial, too, to use the contracted form. Duo seems to hate them in most examples.

January 15, 2015


Duo accepts the contraction of "is" after pronouns, but not after nouns. So it accepts "she's" and "it's" but not "dinner's." I think it also accepts "'s" with interrogatives: "who's," "what's" etc.

March 27, 2015


Hmmm...good point on this one. I've never really seen any instance where Duolingo did not recognize the contraction form of the correct as also a correct answer. I wonder if it is a glitch?

June 23, 2014


DL always seems to do that on fast setting when the preceding word ends with a vowel. In fact i think it might be dropping the vowel, it sounds like "la cen'è in tavola". Is this normal in spoken Italian or a persistent mistake by DL?

February 7, 2015


The new Italian voice shouldn't be presenting any issue like that. But either way, any language will slightly elide adjacent vowels, as long as the meaning is understood.

February 8, 2015


:dinner is on the table" sounds like the butler speaking, but we don't have one, so we say "dinnner's on the table" or "dinner's ready."

August 15, 2015


Should "Dinner is served" not be accepted as a correct answer? That is what people would actually say in English...

June 19, 2013


I think maybe it is because if you focus on the connotation of the two phrases, "Dinner is on the table" is more common, something you'd hear every day in a normal household. Or even like "Mamma grida 'La cena é in tavola!'" Conversely, "Dinner is served" has connotations of a butler whipping off the lid of a plate that is placed in front of you right at the moment of digging in with a fork. :-) Most people would not use that phrase in every day life, unless possibly for a dinner party with friends where they wanted to make a joke.

Note: This was not meant to be a condemnation of your comment, but rather an explanation of how I understand the two phrases to be different. Thanks for asking the question, as it was an interesting one! (I'm actually kind of disappointed that someone voted your comment "down", as even though the meaning is different, you were not being snarky or rude, and it was a valid question, so why would someone vote it down? :-( I'm voting you back up, and giving you a lingot for your trouble.)

June 23, 2014


I'd still say "Dinner is on the table", rather than "Dinner is served". Also, the sentence could be indicating "Dinner is on the table, not in the fridge" rather than it actually being served, in context.

December 31, 2013


I also tried "dinner is served" out of curiosity. Someone, who I think is an Italian contributor, said the Italian "la cena è in tavola" is idiomatic, making me think it should be at least considered. As linbur0100 says, though, it's the connotation of the Italian that's important. I'll report it (26 June 2016) and see what happens, but I'm open to it being wrong.

June 26, 2016


so you don't have to say "sul". "in" means "on" too?

July 19, 2014


In this case, yes - this sentence is an idiom

September 4, 2017


I feel that in the Listen and type assignment with this sentence "è" can easily be overheard. In my opinion it's not hearable at all. I know you should probably extract the occurence of è from the context, but the sentence still sounds acceptable if you omit è

January 1, 2014


Tavolo is used for the object itself when referring to the furniture but also for a restaurant reservation.

Tavola is used referring to a board (such as tavola de surf) but also for anything referring to the actual eating of a meal and related phrases such as setting or clearing the table.

May 22, 2015


In this case, "The dinner is IN the table" is rejected. In another question where we had to translate "Quante sedia mettiamo in tavola", "How many chairs do we have to put ON the table" was marked wrong.

There seems to be a lack of consistency imo. Please clarify.

March 10, 2013


When translating to english, write something that makes sense. Dinner is never in the table.

As for the second case, there are a number of nouns in italian where 'in' translates to 'at the' rather than english 'in', other nouns use 'al' or 'alla' as seems more natural to english speakers. The nouns like this also include 'campagna', 'montagna' and 'ristorante'. Sono in montagna, Mangia in ristorante. There is no solution other than to memorise them, or just wait until it becomes natural for you. Its just part of the language.

If it makes you feel any better, remember that the same kind of inconsistencies exist in english as well, think of 'I am at the beach' and 'I am in the country'.

April 7, 2013


Yes, with subsequent lessons I figured as much. Thank you for the reply. And I definitely agree that English is no straight-forward language either! Like you rightly mentioned, with more translations it is becoming a lot more natural to guess what word is appropriate.

January 27, 2014


I so often say "meal" instead of "dinner" or "supper", and get it wrong, because I often refer to dinner simply as the meal. I understand how they are two separate meanings though.

February 21, 2014


I have the same problem with
figlio = son
When asked to translate figlio I have a reflex to say 'boy' (incorrect), because where I'm from it is common for someone to say, for instance when we are talking about my son, 'how's your boy?' ... I guess son would be understood / implied, but I still have to struggle not to lose my heart all the time :-D

March 9, 2014

  • 1646

'the' is not there in the sentence

September 15, 2016


That's right. Italian omits articles in some places where English uses them, and vice versa.

September 15, 2016


where is the definite article? they should specify that

January 10, 2014


I think, since in the instances where "tavola" is used instead of "tavolo", it is indicating the table as a place prepared for dining, it follows the same kind of rules as for "in bagno" . They do not use the article in that construction either. Very confusing I agree, but from what I've been able to infer, for places in the home that have a specific name assigned to them (so, "bagno" as opposed to "la stanza per "bathing" or "la tavola" instead of "il tavolo per cena"), the article is omitted.

Please note: I am NOT a native speaker, so this should not be taken as gospel. This is just what I've inferred based on usage and my experience learning languages. I noticed you hadn't received a response, and wanted to put my two cents in. But if there is a native speaker who would be willing to weigh in, it would be much appreciated on my part.

June 23, 2014


What's better to use - "in tavola" or "a tavola"? BTW, please, I'd greatly appreciate it if somebody could tell me how to write in bold/underlined/link to external sources in duolingo comments. Thanks!

March 19, 2017


Here's a link: Formatting Codes

March 19, 2017


It better be on the table. Im not eating it if its on the floor!

July 7, 2017


Why isnt la cena "the dinner" instead of only "dinner"?

March 29, 2019

  • 1347

Although I can figure out the context, it still sounds like the voice says cina, not cena.

January 27, 2015


Why would an incorrect response to the question be "dinner is at the table"? This is what I responded with and it marked me wrong.

June 21, 2015


It is definitely not common usage. I'm not sure if it is even technically correct, sorry.

Let's eat at the table. Let's sit at the table. Dinner is ON the table.

June 22, 2015


imagine Beyonce singing 'la tavola da surf' instead of surfboard.

September 16, 2015


I thought it was "The dinner is in the plate" since Duolingo translates tavola to "plate" as well

June 24, 2016


According to the dictionary in is translated in English as in or at. Therefore, I believe the translation should be: Dinner is at the table, or dinner is in table. Clarification please

February 15, 2017


is there is a difference between la tavola and il tavolo

April 20, 2017


The word "in" used here is translated to "on"? That is very confusing, as up until now, I have been shown that "in" in Italian, is used the same as "in" for english. Even the hint window shows the options as different then what the right answer is. I am confused.

June 5, 2017


''the dinner is on table'' wrong?

November 10, 2017


Yes, it's wrong. When we are talking about a meal we usually don't use "the" before the name of the meal:

  • Come down for breakfast.
  • Lunch is ready.
  • Are you hungry for dinner.
  • Breakfast is served from seven to ten.
  • Lunch is included in the price of the ticket.
  • Dinner is a time for being with the family.

However, when referring to the meal as an event, we do use "the":

  • I will be at the reception, but I'm afraid I will have to miss the dinner.

On the other hand, "on table," "on floor" and "on plate" are all unnatural without "the." So the natural way to say it is, "Dinner is on the table."

November 10, 2017


It keep daying that i got the question worng but i actually got it write because they didnt add the as a choice ti add in the sentence

June 6, 2019


LINBURO100. Wow! Haven't heard the word "snarky" for decades!! Had even forgotten that it ever existed. Where do you come from? Perhaps it's used in your neck of the woods but not mine.

July 19, 2014


dinner is served is a way to say the same thing' and more polite

December 22, 2014


I really don't understand why "Dinner is at the table." isn't a correct translation for this. It should be. Reported 8 Jan 2018

January 8, 2018


"Dinner is at the table" is not natural in English. We say that the meal/food is on the table and the people eating are at the table.

By the way, it was not I who downvoted your comment. It seems that other users don't like your translation either, though.

January 8, 2018


Why is it sometimes tavola and sometimes tavolo?I don t understand.And sometimes is it in tavola and sometimes sul tavolo....

January 6, 2019


good i am hungry

September 5, 2016


And everybody is on the table

July 3, 2016
Learn Italian in just 5 minutes a day. For free.