"They are butterflies."
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Loro is more for people, you could use essi for butterflies, but it isn't necessary. Keep in mind the subject pronoun never has to be expressed unless that is the emphasis of the sentence, for example Io non sono un uomo, lui è un uomo. The sentence wouldn't be grammatically incorrect without the subject pronouns, but your audience might not understand you without lui.
The use of definite articles (le, la, gli...) and partitives (dei, delle...) is complex, and there's a discussion going on here: http://duolingo.com/#/comment/295808 feel free to follow it. But here are a few examples that may clear up the situation:
I eat bread
Io mangio pane: this is a literal translation. It isn't grammatically incorrect in Italian, it is just that plenty of times the sentence does sound better with a definite article or a partitive. Simple way to start learning the vocabulary, right?
Io mangio il pane: don't confuse this with always meaning the bread. Using the definite article in Italian can make a sentence a generalization (I am a bread-eater) in addition to the function of the definite article you already know (I eat the bread we spoke of).
Io mangio del pane: partitives are like 'some'. They make the sentence flow, and they make sure you understand that an indefinite quantity is being discussed. Again, the partitive isn't absolutely necessary. The use of the definite article and the partitive goes beyond grammar--to speak another language, you have to think differently as well, and when you speak a romance language, you start giving importance to things you wouldn't have in English ;)
This is a link to an article which suggest that “loro” is used for animals as well. (a quote: “ Loro is used with reference to people and, especially in spoken Italian, also to refer to animals.”)
You can pretty much always omit the subject pronoun in Italian.
Duolingo forgot to mention that "loro" is only for people. The tips and notes say that "essi/esse" is archaic/literary, but apparently it's for non-human references. mukkapazza explains this in the top comment thread on this page.
As explained on this page already, "loro" is only for people. If anything, it would need to be "esse sono farfalle".
esso - masc. sing.
esssi - masc. pl.
essa - fem. sing.
esse - fem. pl.
But part of what this lesson is teaching is that it is more common to omit the subject pronoun.
Nice try, this was mine:
So farfalle is plural and farfalla is singular I'm assuming. What is the rule for plurals according to the endings? I put farfalli which is incorrect. This is my guess for endings: change e to an i for plurals and change a to an e. Is this correct?
I am so grateful for duolingo! I know it doesn't give textbook explanations which can be frustrating, but there are so many other resources we can use for textbook explanations. There are not, however, a lot of places you can practice hearing and seeing in other languages for free.
Understand of you just because, mean always not grammar-good.
"Loro" is for people. According to f.formica, course contributor and native Italian speaker:
I wouldn’t accept “loro sono pesci” because it feels too unnatural to hear: it might work with something like “loro sono i miei pesci” - if someone was showing off their aquarium.
Why does it accept "sono farfalle" but not "essi sono farfalle"? I get that loro is people and essi for non-humans, but I would have thought with and without essi are equally correct?
Anybody able to offer clarity, is there some reason? I'm the first to admit I don't 100% get the grammar in Italian, trying hard to unlearn English grammar (this is my first real foray into a second language).
Read this comment, please: