A lot of people seem confused by this. There is a simple rule, but it's buried in the answers elsewhere in the thread.
Whenever you put the direct object ahead of the verb, you must also use a "redundant" clitic.
I assume everyone is comfortable with:
Mi padre usa este coche "My father uses this car."
Mi padre lo usa. "My father uses it."
But Spanish often likes to put the subject after the verb, unless you are emphasizing the subject. (In English we just raise our voice.)
Lo usa mi padre. "My father uses it."
If you really want to emphasize the car, you can put it (the direct object) first, but in that case you must keep lo.
Este coche lo usa mi padre. "My father uses this car."
This isn't really a passive. A real passive would look like this:
Este coche es usado por mi padre. "This car is used by my father."
Spanish doesn't use this sort of passive very much, though (especially not in the present tense); if you're going to state the subject and object anyway, I think most speakers would use the form in the exercise, so Duoligo's translation into the English passive isn't really a bad choice.
A New Reference Grammar of Modern Spanish: Fifth Edition (Butt and Benjamin, 2011, sections 11.16.1 "Redundancy when object precedes verb" and 28 "The Passive")
Thank you for the very clear explanation! I think it would be good to drill this type of sentence structure with exercises. Do you know if there are any exercises on the Internet that we could use for this? I'm going to try to write out some of my own sentences and practice this. I understand it, but to actually remember and use this grammar won't be easy!
Not exactly. The usage of direct object pronoun "lo" before the verb may indicate that the subject most likely follows the verb.
In your case, albeit it doesn't make much sense, "this car" is the subject and "my father" is the direct object. Since the direct object is a person, the personal 'a' has to be used. Therefore, "this car uses my father" may be translated as: "este coche lo usa a mi padre".
"lo" (masc.) is used because "el coche" is masculine, right? or is it just a default masculine dummy pronoun that doesn't have to agree with the direct object's gender? like if we were talking about a feminine object like "la carta" or "la manzana", would a similar sentence be:
La carta la lee mi padre. ? Una manzana la come mi padre. ?
I hope I'm not being confusing!
Because "este coche" is a direct object that is a noun, the "lo" isn't used in that kind of construction. It would just be "Mi padre usa este coche." = My father uses this car. But the reason that doesn't work for this sentence is because the English sentence is passive..."is used by." And I'm guessing that is how the "lo usa" functions when you have the object first and the subject last. In other words: [object] lo/la usar [subject] = [object] is used by [subject]
Suewood - yes occasionally this happens to me and I always get back the standard response. It doesn't help but I think I could have given more details about my operating system, my browser, versions, devices etc. It doesn't happen often & sometimes I just reboot or sign on to another wifi (tablet/laptop) and its okay again. Hope this helps.
It doesn't happen all the time, but often enough that it is irritating. I usually just take losing the heart and keep going. In fact, today, when I finished one segment, I continued on and it worked just fine. I don't usually reboot or do anything else. Thanks for your answer.
Imagine there is a company called El Motor (stylized el motor) which makes use of old cars to recycle them. Now, how would you say "that old car is used by el motor" in Spanish? Choose between these two sentences the one you think it's correct and then I'll tell you below:
- Ese viejo coche lo usa el motor.
- Ese viejo coche usa el motor.
Can you see the semantic difference between the two? The first one -- the one with the lo -- is what you'll need to say "that old car is used by el motor". The one without the lo means something totally different: "that old car uses the engine".
You could start by asking yourself the following questions:
- ¿Quién usa ese viejo coche? / Who uses that old car?
- ¿Quién lo usa? / Who uses it?
Possible answers (el motor here refers to the fictional company):
- El motor usa ese viejo coche.
- Ese viejo coche lo usa el motor.
- Ese viejo coche es usado por el motor. (Passive voice, see below.)
Another way to think about it is, as the last answer suggests, thinking of the structure subject + direct object + transitive verb + object as the passive voice: subject + verb to be + past participle + por + object.
Markofsky -reading this page you can see myself and others have struggled. Nekosuki has made an excellent effort. Can you use direct and indirect object pronouns in other sentences? If so, leave this sentence and come back later.
If the entire "object pronouns" is causing you problems I suggest you look on the internet for other perspectives on this issue.
No, the "lo" is referring to the object...este coche. If "mi padre" was the object, it would need to have the personal "a" before it, but since it doesn't, we know that "mi padre" has to be the subject. This sentence has a special order where the object comes first and the subject comes after the verb. Carnaedy posted a great link to a place that describes this very thing: http://spanish.about.com/od/sentencestructure/a/word-order-in-spanish.htm Look at the seventh row in the table.
Here is the method I use to break this down. Subject = "padre", verb = "usa", direct object = "coche". My father (it) uses this car. The position that "lo" takes is the direct object position, and can only be a direct object. Therefore, it must represent either the car, or the father. The car receive the passive action, therefore, "lo", must be a direct object pronoun representing the car.
I don't get why duolingo has to put words that was my my list of words that I trouble with, and then decide to throw it out of the window. The words that they put were plural then they put the singular version up. So if anyone can clarify do the plurals mean the same thing as their singular counterparts?