"Él es un hombre débil."

Translation:He is a weak man.

March 10, 2013



In spanish adjective placement can mean a lot. Take the example "I have an old friend" Tengo un viejo amigo - means I have a long time friend. Tengo un amigo viejo - means I have an elderly friend. Before the noun is usually more subjective/emotional and after the noun is more physical/objective. So in this case "un hombre débil" means sickly and "un débil hombre" refers to his weak character.

May 22, 2013


How would you say you have old friend who is also old?

June 19, 2013


Tengo un viejo amigo que es viejo

October 16, 2015


Yes. But being of weak character would also require a change from condition to characteristic and thus from estar to ser, and that change alone would be required. Viejo is a meaning changing adjective, but débil is not. Not all adjectives change meaning when moved in front of the noun. The other reason for putting the adjective before the noun is declaring it to be an essential characteristic of that noun. So un débil hombre is a man who is weak because it is the nature of man to be weak. That would be a specialized meaning, maybe for a discussion of temptation and the fall of Man.


September 17, 2017


excellent description. thanks.

November 29, 2013


That's heavy. Thank you. I think that until I grasp it a little more I'll be placing the adjective after the noun

October 21, 2016


Thanks for that

August 2, 2017


This one is funny for me because I'm Russian and in Russian "debil" is an insulting word for someone who behaves in a stupid way

June 30, 2015


I know some russian, and laughed out loud at first

February 29, 2016


Debil in Russian means "mentally weak", like in Spanish it comes from Latin "debilis", weak.

October 16, 2016


Same in French :)

December 6, 2016


DL is pronouncing "debil" by stressing the last syllable and not the syllable before the last (as the stressing mark over "e" suggests). Why so?

June 10, 2015


You are right; it is wrong. I've noticed that computer voices tend to sound like they are stressing the final syllable when the word ends in certain sounds, including "-il"

March 23, 2016


the syllable before the last = penultimate syllable

January 21, 2017


Debilitated? ¿Por que no?

March 12, 2015


Debilitate (debilitar) is a transitive verb meaning "to weaken" or "to become/grow weak"; it can't be used as an adjective. That's where you'd use "weak". This is where i find Spanish fun - matching words with their Latin root! Call me a geek :-)

August 8, 2015


Does "debil" mean "weak" in only the physical sense, could it be, as in English, also applied to character -- he is weak (he can't resist temptation)?

March 10, 2013


from spanishdict.com weak (persona) (sin fuerzas) ; lax, lenient (condescendiente) de constitución débil -> prone to illness, sickly débil de carácter -> of weak character

April 6, 2013


Frail? I feel like that should be accepted.

May 2, 2015


I agree. I got it marked incorrect as well. I reported it. Make sure to do so as well.

June 28, 2015


Does debil kinda sound like devil in the recording to any1?

May 10, 2016


Debil is an insult in so many Slavic languages.

August 24, 2016


this is funny to me because debil means loser/idiot in polish

March 12, 2018


could it Translate to "disabled"? The Owl no likey!

May 17, 2014


Disabled = "discapacitado." You may also hear or read "inútil" or "minusválido". These words were commonly used in the past but are considered offensive today. Their literal translations are "useless" and "worthless". Another word you may hear is "lisiado" (from "lesión"). It literally translates to "injured" but refers to a permanent injury, usually of an extremity.

June 8, 2014


In the 1950s, people with disabilities were called "subnormal". "Moron", "retard" and "imbecile" were also used depending on their level of disability. Today, they are known as "people with a disability" because to say "disabled person" puts the emphasis on their disability and not the fact that they are a human. I'm glad that times have changed.

August 18, 2014


Interesting that you mention it here, Meredith, as the word "debil" in Polish is commonly used to this day as a synonim of "moron, idiot". You can imagine how I completely misinterpreted the Spanish sentence.

December 28, 2014


Yeah, in Czech it is also like that. I guessed that Duolingo is not teaching us such words and that it probably means something (a bit) different in Spanish. Then again "débil hombre" is sort of like a "man of a weak character" which pretty much fits the debil as it is used in Czech (except that it is probably not a curse word in Spanish).

September 9, 2015


Good to know. Gracias.

June 10, 2014


feeble vis a vis diabled? por que?

December 22, 2015


Él hombre dice "¿M'lady?"

March 17, 2016


Estar vs ser. Previously, estar was used "El niño está débil."

April 21, 2016


With 'estar' the indication is that the child is not normally weak, that his present weak condition is different from his normal description. Perhaps he is currently ill.
In Duo's sentence, 'ser' is used to link the subject pronoun with a predicate noun (one of its uses), and the indication is "He is a man (who's weak)".

August 25, 2016


That's what she told her friends :'( :'(

July 17, 2016


this is very funny to people that speak slavic languages

August 7, 2016


Is anyone else having débil cut off by the male voice that says the whole sentence? I'm using the mobile app. It isn't cut off by the female voice that says the sentence here or by the female voice that says just the word when I click on it in the app.

December 23, 2017


couldn't debil mean frail here?

February 7, 2018


Débil can mean frail. But it is not the most common definition of débil, nor is it the most commonly used word for frail. So, without context which suggests that it WOULD mean frail, I don't think that is a good translation here. Remember Duo is trying to teach you to interpret what you hear and read in Spanish and how to reproduce that. In most cases where you would hear débil used where it could be translated as frail, translating as weak would not really be out of place. But using frail might well be off mark if you are just saying he can't best you at arm wrestling.

February 7, 2018
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