"My parents like beer."
Translation:Ai miei genitori piace la birra.
As I understand it, it is common for the subject of a sentence in Italian to require a definite article, even when it isn't necessary in English. In this sentence (as many of the comments in this discussion will document) the subject is birra = beer, Adding the article "the" in English changes the meaning substantially. We would say "Beer is pleasing to my parents." rather than "The beer is pleasing to my parents." if we meant that in general my parents liked beer. Adding the article "the" narrows the beer that pleases my parents in some way that we can't determine without further context. Perhaps my parents like a type of beer that is currently under discussion, or a beer that they are currently drinking. But with "the" modifying the subject "beer" in English we are no longer saying that my parents like beer generically, only some specific beer. In Italian it doesn't work like that. Despite the definite article, the sentence asserts that the parents like beer in general. Another example might help. While an Italian speaker might understand what you are getting at if your say, "Cavalli sono animali" the proper Italian is "I cavalli sono animali." You add the definite article because "cavalli" is the subject of the sentence, and it means (all) "horses are animals," not just that some collection of horses are animals. For that you would need to say something like "Questi cavalli sono animali."
It took me a while to get further down the skill tree to the Clitic Pronoun section to actually understand what you're saying here. You're right; you could use an indirect pronoun before "piace" and you wouldn't need the "a." (Mi piace, ci piace, gli piace, etc.) However, indirect pronouns include the "a" within themselves. So "Mi piace la birra" is the same as saying "A me piace la birra." Both translate into "I like beer," or more literally, "to me, beer is pleasing."
Because of the way piacere works, you have to start off saying "To the object of the sentence..." and in this case, "ai miei genitori" means "to my parents." The "a" is necessary for it to make sense. Without it, you are saying "My parents, beer is pleasing."
You could also say "Gli piace la birra" to say "They like beer" and you wouldn't need the "a," but that's for a future lesson anyway. :)
This is a good question. I am just learning, but I believe that this sentence has the same meaning as the offered answer, but it is a construction that isn't commonly used. While the meaning of the sentence in English is "The beer is pleasing to my parents," the usage in Italian is to place the object (my parents ) at the start, like a subject, and the subject (the beer) at the end, so that it places the nouns in the same order as the English "My parents like beer." This has the effect (in Italian as in English) of placing the parents in the more active role, and the beer in a more passive one. So the sentence reads more like parents are actively liking the beer, rather than passively being pleased by it.
I'm just learning Italian myself, and I would love correction from a more experienced hand!
In your first example, "I miei genitori" is the subject of the sentence.
In the second case, however, "birra" is the subject and "i miei genitori" is the object of the prepositional verb "piacere a" and, since the preposition "a" combines with the article, you get "
ai miei genitori".
This confuses me.
Ghislaine, quite appropriately, the way in which you have used the verb "confuse" here, parallels the way "piacere" is used.
- Mi piace questo libro — This book pleases me.
In English, that's not how we might typically express it. We would normally say "I like this book": what is the subject in the English construction maps to the indirect object in the Italian; the English object maps to the Italian subject.
In the current case, "birra" is the subject, so the verb form is "piace". "ai miei genitori" is the indirect object. Notice that preposition "a" (combined with the article) which is a clue that "miei genitori" is NOT the subject.
- French plaîre:— la recette qui plaît aux enfants - the recipe children like
- Spanish gustar:— A mi perro no le gusta su comida - My dog doesn't like his food