1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Spanish
  4. >
  5. "¡Yo no encuentro mi libro de…

"¡Yo no encuentro mi libro de español!"

Translation:I can't find my Spanish book!

February 25, 2018



Wouldn't this be - Yo no puedo encontrar mi libro de espanol-? As the sentence is written in the present tense, shouldn't -I do not find my Spanish book- be acceptable. I was marked wrong.


The "puedo" is not needed here, or rather you don't need to translate the "can't" into Spanish. It literally translates as "I am not finding my Spanish book" and so it's self-explanatory that you "can't" find it. It's the same as when you say "I can't/don't see any books on the table" - "no veo ningún libro en la mesa". "yo no nado "-" I can't /don't swim" etc.


Thanks, Emma. You seem to be correct, but Duo sometimes requires poder with some verbs, even when physical ability isn't an issue. Are there some verbs that need poder when "can" or "can't" would be appropriate in English but physical ability isn't involved?

Hope this question makes sense--it's a little bit difficult to formulate!


Most verbs do that. Outside of questions (where English loves using additional modal verbs when it comes to requests or suggestions), the only group of verbs that comes to mind that doesn't use poder when English normally uses "can" are verbs of perception - ver, oír, encontrar, comprender, etc. Verbs of perception describe actions of one or more senses with the goal of receiving a specific piece of information about the outside world. (That is, if my definition game is up to par. :´)

Other verbs behave just like in English:

  • Yo bailo. - I am dancing. | Yo puedo bailar. - I can dance.
  • ¿No nadas? - Won't you swim? | ¿No puedes nadar? - Can't you swim?
  • ¿Lees esa frase? - Are you reading that sentence? | ¿Puedes leer esa frase? - Can you read that sentence?

Compare with:

  • No veo la tele. - I don't/can't see the TV.
  • ¿Entiendes a Wally? - Do/can you find Waldo?
  • Simplemente no lo entiendes. - You just can't/don't understand.

If you have more questions or want to challenge my definition, you're welcome to respond. Verbs of perception are a tough group to stake off.


I struggle to recognize encuentro as a verb of perception in "Yo no encuentro mi libro de español!" Maybe the exclamation mark adds the 'unable (can't) perception'? Or a vocal emphasis. It's seems odd to equate don't with can't which have distinct meanings in English. Thanks nonetheless for your input, RyagonIV


Michael, what would be the difference in meaning between "I don't find my dictionary" and "I can't find my dictionary"?


Ryagon, I have no wish to challenge your definition or your analysis! Actually, I think you're spot on.

We have become familiar with requests (non-polite, as you call them) that use only the main verb. Now, it seems that statements (not requests/suggestions) using verbs-of-perception are simply another group that does not require poder. Just something more to become accustomed to. Thanks!

(Now, to somehow internalize this--unfortunately, when trying to speak Spanish, I rarely stop to analyze whether I'm using a verb-of-perception!)


Wouldn't it directly translate to "I no find my Spanish book" which would translate in a "colloquial" way to "I can't find my Spanish book". I know that you are right, I'm just trying to learn how to spot/tell the difference.


"I'm not finding my Spanish book" was accepted 4 August 2020. "I can't find my Spanish book" was given as an alternative translation. "I'm not finding my book" is easily understood by a native English speaker, but "I can't find" has pretty much the same meaning and is more common. "I do not find" is also easily understood by a native English speaker, but there is no "I do" (yo hago) in the Spanish sentence. The way I see it, "I'm not finding" is the literal translation, "I can't find" is a more colloquial translation, and "I do not find" is not colloquial English and incorrect because, unlike "I'm not finding" it is not a literal translation of the Spanish.


Why not -I do not find - or -I am not finding -?


Same question here, reported.


I do not find...accepted 12-26-2018


Inability is implied in the Spanish sentence. In general, one would not say "Yo no puedo encontrar mi libro," but would probably say "No encuentro mi libro." You would be understood by saying either or, however, the second sentence is more idiomatically correct.


this is another example where the translation doesn't have to be literal, so the correct sentence is "i can't find my spanish book" even though "no encuentro" means "i don't find".


In an earlier exercise, "I didn't find the credit card" was correct. But in this exercise i must say "I can't find my Spanish book." Duolingo REALLY needs to work on consistency!!!!!


It's understandable, though. "I didn't find" is a much likelier statement than "I don't find". In the former case, you finished looking so you can make a statement like that about the result of the entire process. In the latter, the process of looking is still ongoing, so making such an encompassing statement is a bit odd.


In both cases the construction "no encuentro" was used. In the first case my answer, "I can't find," was rejected. In the second case, I chose my answer, "I didn't find" because of my experience with the first case, but THAT answer was rejected this time. This, to me, is not just an issue of consistency from exercise to exercise. It seems to me that Duolingo is just flat out wrong in some circumstances. If "I can't find" something, then the construction, "no puedo encontrar" should be used.


Okay, if both sentences were in present tense in Spanish, it's a bit odd to accept a past-tense translation. That shouldn't be the case.

But "I can't find" as a translation for "no encuentro" is pretty fine. English prefers to use "can" with verbs of perception when asking whether your perception is successful, or in negative statement when your perception is unsuccessful. Spanish is fine with the main verb on its own.

  • ¿Ves la pantalla? - Can you see the screen?
  • ¡No te oigo! - I can't hear you!
  • ¿No encuentras el libro? - Can't you find the book?


Thanks, RyagonIV, for sticking with me on this. I know you are not responsible for my complaints about Duolingo or the Spanish language.

But how am I, or anyone for that matter, supposed to know what you mean when you say "no encuentro?" If it can mean "I can't find" or "I didn't find" then Duolingo should accept both answers in both of the examples I cited above. Instead, it accepts only one of the two possible answers, and it goes a different way for each exercise. I have enough trouble with the inconsistencies within the language itself, without Duolingo adding its own inconsistencies.


If I say "No encuentro [algo]", it means "I can't find [something]". I'm still searching or have just ended the search.

"I didn't find [something]" would imply that the search has ended a while ago, right? You don't expect to find the object anymore. That would likewise use the preterite tense in Spanish: "No encontré [algo]."


Agreed. "Can't" doesn't appear and isn't implied.


I put I cannot find my Spanish book and I got it wrong which is the same thing as I can't find my spainish book!


Is there any significance to the exclamation marks that would make the translation the more desperate "I can't find my book!" rather than the more casual: "I am not finding my book" or "I don't find my book."


Would you even say "I am not finding my book" in English?

The exclamation marks seem to add some desperation, but they don't change the meaning.


Yes you would, more often while you're talking to yourself, but it is spoken that way sometimes. "I am not finding my book" or "Why am I not finding my book?" These are things we mumble to ourselves while looking. :D


"¡Yo no encuentro mi libro de español!"

Why is this a correct translation when it doesn't have "can't" as the sentence below does with "no puedo"?

"¡Yo no puedo encontrar mi libro de español!"


English prefers using "can" with verbs of perception - especially in questions and negative statements. Spanish is fine with just the full verb.

  • No te oí. - I couldn't hear you.
  • ¿Ves aquel hombre? - Can you see that man?
  • No encuentro mis calcetines. - I cannot find my socks.


Scott, I don't know about all verbs of perception, per Ryagon's explanation, but Duo does indicate that encontrar doesn't need a form of poder to mean "can't find." See https://www.duolingo.com/skill/es/School-4/tips


didnt find marked wrong 10/16 2019


You're still looking.


And Duo and I are apparently still looking on 11/29/2019. This one will continue to torture us like the infamous chalkboard example.


Why isn't this 'no puedo a encontrar mi libro de espanol'?


Mizz, you can use a form of poder here if you want, but don't put an a after it. Poder doesn't use any prepositions.


don't find - marked wrong i just put it down to duo sometimes gets out the wrong side of the bed


why is I didnt find my spanish book wrong


Gpfiocco, you're still looking for it. Encuentro is a present-tense conjugation ("I find"), so the not-finding is still ongoing.


A few exercises back I got dinged for saying "diccionario italiano" for "Italian dictionary" rather than "diccionario de italiano". So I tried "book about Spanish" for "libro de español" as this translation and was dinged again. So how do I know if we are talking about where the book was made verses what it is about?


Jerry, a "libro italiano" is a book that's from Italy and/or written in Italian. A "libro de italiano" is a book that has the Italian language as its topic.

English doesn't make a difference between those types because it's not a real language. It's both just "Italian book".


As I stated in my note, I understand the difference. The question is how do I tell which is intended so Duolingo does not mark my response wrong for choosing the wrong one?


Jerry, I can't offer a lot more than "common sense" here. If you see something like "Spanish dictionary", it'll probably be a dictionary that is concerned with Spanish.


I didnt find my spanish book not accepted??


What's wrong with I didn't find


This sentence is present tense and did is past tense.


Wait doesn't this also translate to: I didn't find my Spanish book" or otherwise how would you say that?


Branko, as Ryagon previously noted in this discussion, "I didn't find my Spanish book" = No encontré mi libro de español.


"didn't" was accepted in a previous sentence when can't was accepted also


But that's not the same thing. This sentence is present tense, not past.


This should not be "can't" ..no puedo..grrr


No, they are trying to show you that Spanish often expresses this type of sentence without poder.


I didn't hear the 'no' or 'de' when I first listened. Ella habla muy rapido!


your answer is not write and mine is correct Yo no encuentro = I do not find and not I can't find which = No puedo encontrar

Learn Spanish in just 5 minutes a day. For free.