"L'hanno saputo molto tempo fa."

Translation:They found out a long time ago.

March 14, 2013



There are a few things that may be confusing about this sentence...

Present perfect: the uses of this tense are different in Italian and English. "They have known it (for a long time)" is a less specific time frame than in Italian "L'hanno saputo (da molto tempo/molto tempo fa)". A simple way to explain this is that in Italian, the present perfect is used with specific time phrases such as yesterday or last month. In English, this is never the case, because the present perfect is used to describe experiences, incomplete actions, etc.

Sapere: in simple past or present perfect this verb generally means something more along the lines of found out

Fa: ago, but

Da: since which means of the two Italian sentences mentioned in the first point, "da molto tempo" is closer in meaning to "for a long time".

The short answer is that the meat of "They have known it for a long time" is quite similar to "They found out a long time ago" but the sentence is not syntactically the same.

March 15, 2013


This is really helpful. Thank you. :)

August 15, 2013


Do you suppose that the program would accept "They have known it a long time ago"?

June 1, 2013


But that's not really English, is it?

February 16, 2014


Yes. Both solutions are oddly worded in English. I said they should accept "They knew it a while ago." (it's still odd with "it" the sentence is more commonly said with "about" added before "it or without "it") or "They found out a long time ago".

February 18, 2014


"They have known it a long time ago" doesn't work in English. It would have to be "They knew it a long time ago," but I don't know whether that's an accurate translation.

May 29, 2014


To say "they knew it a long time ago," you would need to use the imperfect: "sapevano." "Know" changes to "found out" in the passato prossimo and passato remoto, because those tenses refer to an event at a specific moment in time, not a general condition.

January 12, 2017


That helps!

January 13, 2017


Thanks for that. It's been puzzling me for ages!

August 25, 2018


The uses of the imperfect tense are. a) used to express an ongoing action in the past b) used to express a habitual action in the past. c) Used to express an action that started in the past and was still going on when something else happened. d) used to express a state or condition in the past. e) used in indirect discourse to report what someone said or wrote. f) uses the imperfect tense of 'stare' plus gerund to express the equivalent of the past progressive.

Item d) above would fit your reasoning, but it usually requires 'was' viz: La donna era giovane. My problem with this sentence is that the verb sapere is - To know., to know how, to be able to, to be aware of. nowhere is it to find out. Of course I understand there are nuances in all language,. but this translation for me just does not suit the case.

April 28, 2019


Apparently so. It's accepted.

December 6, 2014


It's not accepted anymore even though it make sense to me.

February 24, 2015


It didn't accept it for me

January 6, 2016


I think it should. But I don't know if it does :-) Better than the imperfect tense in English.

June 6, 2014


No, DL doesn't

August 15, 2017


That is the answer the program gave me. Not quite right......

July 13, 2014


I think the primary use of the present perfect tense in English is to indicate action completed in present time, i.e., recently. For example, the question "Have you seen the movie?" indicates it may still be showing as opposed to past tense, "Did you see the movie?" The sentence DL uses is not good English. "They found out a long time ago" would be preferable.

April 8, 2014


My only problem with the correct solution still reamins: when learning (teaching) present perfect I was told (I used to say) that 'ago' is banned from present perfect sentences. Was I misled? I guess the undelying problem is that Italian passato prossimo has different usage than English present perfect. (At least in Lombardy where Passato Remoto is hardly ever used in spoken Italian.)

August 29, 2014


Thank you very much!

October 12, 2015


So, "They have known it since long ago" doesn't work? Or is it also bad English :D I have no clue :')

October 12, 2018


Where has the object disappeared in your English translation ? Should not it be They have found IT out a long time ago ? The initial "L" in the Italian sentence denotes the object, no?

September 25, 2013


My hearing is imperfect, so I translated it as "They buried him a long time ago." Lost my heart, but I was laughing.

May 28, 2014


I'm having trouble distinguishing between him, her, and it. For this one I said "him" which was incorrect. Granted I translated it as "They knew him a long time ago" which according to mukkapazza's explanation is incorrect.

April 8, 2013


You've got the conjugation right, but the reason him doesn't work is only because of "sapere". Figuring out when to use one or the other can be tricky ;) Knowing a person takes "conoscere". But if you wanted to say they knew him a long time ago, it would be either "L'hanno conosciuto molto tempo fa" or even "Lo conoscevano molto tempo fa".

April 8, 2013


Thank you mukkapazza.

January 23, 2014


Thank you. I was having the same trouble with this sentence as SaxyLady, I would never have worked this out without your explanation.

May 7, 2014


Meaning respectively "they met him" and "they knew him" to explain perfect and imperfect tenses...? This is how I understand these tenses for " found out" and "knew" for these tenses of sapere, is that right...?

April 13, 2018


'They have found out a long time ago' is incorrect; it should be 'they found out a long time ago'.

January 16, 2014


They have known it for a long time?

Thanks Marziotta. "A long time ago in a galaxy far far away..." :-)

March 14, 2013


I think it should work as well. The Italian wants to state that a long time ago there was an exact point in time when they started to know it.

March 14, 2013


That's what sounds natural in English. But DL offers "They have known it a long time ago", which doesn't sound at all possible to my ear!

May 28, 2014


A suggestion for saputo is "been able to", but when I used it it was wrong. I hate it when duolingo doesn't accept its own suggestions!

March 7, 2014


Homonyms catch anyone learning any language. I find it useful to open up the conjugation information on a verb to figure out exactly which use of it fits the sentence.

April 24, 2014


They learned it a long time ago should also be accepted, since in English, we used "learned" to mean "found out" as well as meaning "studied successfully."

February 16, 2014


I totally agree. In truth, "found out" would be a rather awkward way of saying "learned" in my opinion. Should be accepted.

August 14, 2014


Why is "They have found out about it a long time ago" considered incorrect? Is there some nuance I'm missing? Duo suggests as an alternative "They found out about it a long time ago", so the issue can't be the "about it" part.

June 5, 2014


In English, the present perfect isn't compatible with adverbs of past time like "ago" or "yesterday". You have to use the simple past for that.

August 14, 2014


Exactly correct, Greg. It is also true about exact times. That is why the sentence 'I have found out about it at 2 a.m. this morning.' would also be incorrect.

August 28, 2014


why can't i say "they knew it a long time ago"?

August 19, 2017


"knew it" would need the imperfect tense
there is a certain group of verbs, including : sapere, conoscere, volere, dovere and potere, which have a slight difference in meaning depending on which past tense you use.
In the case of sapere, the imperfect tense would be used to say "they knew it", and it would just be describing the state of knowing which no reference to when they first knew it.
when you you the passato prossimo, it indicates that there was a point in time when they found this out or "learned" it. The example might be more clear if it said : L'hanno saputo ieri. (They found out about it yesterday), ieri being a clear point in time when they found out.
You will find that these same verbs behave in a similar way in French.
I hope this helps.

September 21, 2017


grazie mille!

October 26, 2017


There seems to be a lot of confusion here about the meaning of sapere in the perfect tense.
This is what a first-year Italian textbook has to say :
"When used in the passato prossimo, sapere means to find out, to learn, to hear about.
When used in the imperfetto, sapere means to know. "

August 25, 2018


I put they have known it for a long time DL does not like 'for'

April 24, 2014


'For a long time' is the correct translation. 'Ago' cannot be used with the present perfect as it refers to a closed period of time. The present perfect can only be used to talk about open time periods. It seems that in this case DL insists on a word for word translation without taking English grammar into account.

May 9, 2014


I did the same & am reporting it!

June 28, 2014


I'm pretty sure "for a long time" can't work here because you need the imperfect to convey that idea. Something like Lo sapevano da tempo.

August 14, 2014


I agree with you. Duo, duo, duo, what is wrong with you-oh?

March 8, 2015


I said, They have known it for a long time. It was rejected. I'm trying to connect that with mukkapazza's contribution, which was very helpful. So here the English is not specific, as would be in the Italian. I think I get it. They found out works better then. Thanks, btw, for this explanation.

October 1, 2014


I typed: "la non saputo molto tempo fa", and it was marked right......You can understand my confusion when I read the answer, and it was not in the negative construct...."L'hanno saputo molto tempo fa" makes much more sense for "They have known for a long time"...Oh Duo.

October 4, 2014


The hints are really confusing... When I'm about to gibe the right translation I check the hint and don't see it there so I never know if I should keep my answer or choose the one that Duolingo gives me

January 4, 2015


Just follow your heart and write what you think. If Dou doesn't accept your answer, try asking fellow sudents. You must remember, Duo's answers are not always correct and rely on feedback.

January 4, 2015


I got, "They knew about it a long time ago" wrong!

January 14, 2015


Imparare = to learn, sapire = to know, non e vero? Or is this an Italian idiom?

February 14, 2015

  • 1234

Shouldn't " they found out about him a long time ago" also be accepted? If not, why?

April 11, 2015


Would someone please explain to me why "They knew it a long time ago" was marked wrong? Grazie

July 3, 2015

  • 2052

That implies they don't know it anymore, which is not the case in Italian (quite the contrary).

July 3, 2015


"They have known it for a long time" was marked wrong. Why is it wrong?

May 4, 2016


Very strange....I typed 'they knew it a long time ago' and it was marked wrong, corrected to 'they heard it a long time ago'. Wouldn't that be 'sentito', not 'saputo'??

February 21, 2017


the translation: "they have known it a long time ago" should be also valid

May 29, 2017


If my dictionary is right, find out means "scoprire, trovare" (I've found out his address = ho scoperto il suo indirizzo) no connection with saperlo, that here means "to have the knowledge of it". Perhaps "they found out about it" could be a passable translation

August 15, 2017


30/10/2017 Answer given as correct today: They heard it a long time ago. Can anyone figure out DL?

October 31, 2017


The answer just given now is completely different. DL said that the answer is "They heard it a long time ago". This is a completely different translation as far as English is concerned 4/5/2018

May 4, 2018

  • 2052

Different from?

May 4, 2018


Why not " they knew it"?

August 4, 2018


Why am I marked incorrect for: they knew it a long time ago. I reckon your translation as "They heard it a long time ago" is totally wrong.

August 9, 2018


There is an "it" missing, isn't it?

August 25, 2018


It seems to me that this sentence could be translated :
"They found out about it a long time ago."
In a dictionary I found this example :
"L'ho saputo solo stamattina." -> I only heard about it this morning.
Come l'ha saputo ? -> How did he find out about it ?
I have a three italian textbooks, and they all get around the problem by using only "Ho saputo che .... ", "Hanno saputo che ....".
It seems the important difference is that in English we can just say "I found out", without any kind of complement, but in Italian you need to complete the verb with a clause or with a pronoun.

August 25, 2018


The answer given by DL for the translation of this sentence is : “ They heard of him a long time ago”. Totally confusing when the discussion page does not use the same answer.

September 15, 2018


I translated this as 'They knew it a long time ago' but it was rejected. DL corrected me with 'They heard it a long time ago'. Here it is translated as 'found out'. Most odd.

October 7, 2018


Hi Val, You will encounter the same situation in french with similar verbs, like sapere (savoir), conoscere (connaître), potere (pouvoir), volere (vouloir) where the use of the passato prossimo changes the meaning slightly. Here is one explanation :
Generally, use of the passato prossimo with these verbs refers to a point in time rather than a length of time. The imperfect past would be used to talk about knowledge that you had for some period of time, while the use of the passato prossimo refers to the moment in time when you acquired that knowledge.

October 7, 2018


DL is a master in different meanings of the word "sapere": find out, know about, hear about, just know. It really drives me mad.

January 24, 2019

  • 2052

Don't forget "can": e.g. "so nuotare" is generally translated with "I can swim" :)

January 24, 2019


Found out what? what does the "le" (in l'hanno) stand for?

March 28, 2019


It stands for "it" as in "They found it out"

March 28, 2019


English sucks

April 3, 2019


My question remains why not "they knew a long time ago"?

April 4, 2019


Sapere means to know. Who translate the sentences over at DL? To find means trovare or incontrare. Find out means scoprire.

November 13, 2018


Read comments by Albertine and Augustine, who both explain it clearly.

November 14, 2018


Nothing to be explained: find out does not mean to know. It's scoprire or simply to find. The Webster's specifies: find out = to unriddle, to obtain knowledge of what is hidden. Dl is joking of the languages.

November 14, 2018


Explain your minus, litterates, PLEASE

April 4, 2019
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