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  5. "Solo quiero un tomate."

"Solo quiero un tomate."

Translation:I only want one tomato.

May 19, 2018



According to Garner’s Modern American Usage, the best placement of “only” is precisely before the words intended to be limited. DL’s translation is incorrect, unless the intended meaning is something like, “I don’t want world peace, I don’t want presents for my birthday, I only want one tomato.” If, however, the meaning is something like, “I don’t want two or three tomatoes, I want only ONE tomato, then the DL translation as it currently stands is incorrect.


See this quote from "http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/modifiers.htm", one of my preferred grammar resources.

"The issue of the proper placement of "only" has long been argued among grammarians. Many careful writers will insist that "only" be placed immediately before the word or phrase it modifies. Thus "I only gave him three dollars" would be rewritten as "I gave him only three dollars."

Some grammarians, however, have argued that such precision is not really necessary, that there is no danger of misreading "I only gave him three dollars" and that "only" can safely and naturally be placed between the subject and the verb.
The argument has been going on for two hundred years."

"Basic Principle: Modifiers are like teenagers: they fall in love with whatever they're next to. Make sure they're next to something they ought to modify!"

Note that this "basic principle" doesn't say whether the modifier goes before or after the word it's modifying.


Taken literally, "I only want one tomato" is never true. People always want other things as well: love, understanding, respect, perhaps a new car. But no one takes the sentence literally. "I only want one tomato" is simply a colloquial way of saying "I want only one tomato." Of course, "I want only one tomato" can be true, provided you regard "only one" as modifying "tomato."


Great explanation) but I still don't get it...


I only gave him three dollars. I did not bludgeon him.

I gave him only three dollars. I did not give him either of the fifty dollar bills in my wallet at the time.

Note: I am not arguing for either interpretation. Even if you accept the validity of the proximity argument, you should still recognize talented writers often bend or break rules for artistic effect. (Some of us are just loquaciously incoherent.)


But the sentence 'I only gave him three dollars' could mean that you gave it to him, her, your neighbour, the dog etc as opposed to him. It's not explicitly referring to the amount of dollars being given.


I think the problem is DUO using 'one' instead of 'a'. Had it been 'a' it would have slid by without comment. with exactly the 'dont want anything else' everyday meaning.


Exactly. "A tomato" is also accepted and was my preferred translation, thinking that if I only wanted 1 as opposed to 2 or 3 then "solo" would probably have been placed before "un".


un means "a"; one is uno or una. Consequently, "a tomato" should be accepted.


Yes, "a tomato" should be accepted, but your first statement implies "one" must be "uno" or "una" whereas "a" is "un". This is untrue. Both article and number behave as adjectives and must match gender with feminine nouns -a, or drop the -o before masculine nouns:

A tomato - Un tomate
One tomato - Un tomate
A carrot - Una zanahoria
One carrot - Una zanahoria


"un" primarily does mean "a". "one" is a secondary meaning. I understand "un" can mean one, but "un" primarily is "a". Consequently, as you note, "a tomato" should be accepted, because "a tomato" also means "one tomato".


Hi, please use the button to report problems. The course creators don't read every comment to every sentence discussion, but they do get the reports. Thanks also for sharing this info with everyone here - it's very helpful!


I actually like the comments here. I can't see the reports that people send but the discussion is very helpful. So keep doing it! I will say that when I've wanted to report something, the button options don't address the problem most of the time. So I'm not sure the problems are ever fixed. One time the select an answer options didn't even include the correct one! But reporting that issue wasn't an option.


Yes, previously, there was an "other" option on the report button, where you could write the exact description of the issue. Unfortunately, this this been removed.


Reported errors do fixed. There's just a huge backlog so it can take months before you see a response, if at all


I'm a native English speaker with an M.A. in Applied Linguistics. It's always entertaining when the finger-wagging, knuckle-rapping prescriptive grammarians weigh in.


Cue the video: Nobody every expects the grammar inquisition squad. Our chief weapon is surprise...and fear.


Actually the spanish sentence means "I only want a tomato". Not world peace, not presents like you said. If the word used however is sólo or único instead of solo without the accent mark, then the other translation you gave is right.


This isn't entirely correct. The "solo" in this DL sentence is the adverb "sólo".

Sólo and solamente are adverbs. As such they can modify verbs or adjectives. In the past "sólo" the adverb carried the accent mark to distinguish it from "solo" the adjective, but now the accent mark is only included if possible ambiguity exists.

Solo and único are adjectives. As such they modify nouns. They must match number and gender with the nouns they are modifying, allowing for these variations: Solo; sola; solos; solas; único; única; únicos; únicas. By comparison the adverbs "sólo" and "solamente" are invariant.

In this DL sentence, with the singular masculine noun "tomate" the adjective would be "solo", but the placement before the verb tells us that this is the adverb "sólo" written without the accent.

Solo [adverb] quiero un tomate - I only want one/a tomato.

Technically, with the adverb modifying the verb, a tomato is my only want, not world peace or anything else.

But if we translate "un" as "one" then it would be common to interpret "only" as referring to that number, even though this is more accurately represented by moving the adverb to modify the adjective:

Quiero solo [adverb] un tomate - I want only one tomato.

There's also the interpretation that I want a tomato on its own, with nothing else. For this I guess it would be possible to use the adjective "solo" to modify the noun:

Quiero un tomate solo [adjective] - I want a tomato only.

All that said, the original DL sentence could be interpreted as any of these versions, so when it comes to "only" (and possibly "solo") placement, I think context is more important than technical precision.


I didn't see any accent mark on solo, but I like the concept


They used world Peace as an example, not a translation.


Am I in Duolingo or Khan Academy?


Luckily we're not American


It can also mean:

All I ask for is a tomato (this reminds me of the scene in the dark knight when the joker says I only want a phone call, while stressing a knife against some policmen's throat...)

  • 1608

This example is perfect, because it beautifully illustrates the difference between solo quiero and quiero solo. Solo quiero means "I merely" or "I just" want a tomato. Just gimme a tomato! Whereas quiero solo means "I specifically want" a tomato---as opposed to a potato.

Note that in neither case is exactly one tomato specified. For that, you really should say "I want a single tomato:" Quiero un solo tomate.


There's ALSO the possibility that it translates: "Only I want a tomato" (My wife doesn't, nor does my son)


I think there's another way to say this in Spanish. I'm not sure though.


Indeed there is. "Solo yo quiero un tomate".

[deactivated user]

    That would be a different sentence.


    I agree with your comment. So How do you say"Only I want a tomato"?


    Printed in red I was given "the meaning" of the sentence : "I just fancy one tomato" Luckily though, the translation here looks quite sane. Only that there seems to be this 'only' placed somewhat controversially. " I only pinch ( meaning not crushed) one tomato" OR Did you say "I pinched only one (not 2-3-more) tomato. "
    SO I'm only saying , it depends where you have the main stress in the sentence. In this case it should be on the word ONE , not on WANT.
    But we can think it again: Since the predicate 'quiero' carries the subject too (Yo quiero) And diminishing 'Solo' is put there first, you may as well diminish it, too , to begin with. So that would turn to be : "Only I want..." ( but not anyone else ). The word order is a bit more complex in English than in Spanish, I guess...


    What is wrong with "I want one tomato only".


    It's not so common, but is OK. Your version is for emphasis. English often moves adverbs to the end, or near the beginning for the purpose of emphasis.

    However, 'I want one only tomato' does not work.


    It would be understood but sounds very odd, as would 'I want one only tomato'


    In the Yucatan region, for instance, this sentence asks for one tomatillo. Here's a link explaining: http://www.raecrothers.ca/blog/mexican-spanish-peculiarities-tomate-and-jitomate/


    I love the sign pictured at the top of the link you provided: I want to grow my own food, but I can't find any taco seeds.

    Note: the picture of the green fruit in that link is of a green, unripened tomato. It has distinct narrow leaves around the stem. A tomatillo has a single stem and a paper-like husk. About ten years ago I was buying tomatillos in a Philly area grocery store. The cashier asked what they were and said no when I replied, "tomatillos." I kept my thoughts to myself.

    Rick Bayless points out that in some regions if you ask for pasilla chiles (dried chilaca chiles), you will be given ancho chiles (dried poblano chiles).


    How come there is no accent in this sentence "solo" (adjective) instead of "sólo" (adverb)? I would have thought as written the Spanish means "I alone want one tomato". How can we get "only want" from an adjective "solo"...?


    In the past "sólo" the adverb carried the accent mark to distinguish it from "solo" the adjective, but now the accent mark is only included if possible ambiguity exists. The "solo" in this sentence is an adverb.


    why is it one tomato and not a tomato. i got a marked incorrect last time but used one this time and got marked correct


    ...y una banana y tres manzanas.
    ...y leche.
    (From one of Duolingo's stories: 'Una Cosa' ('One Thing')


    "I want one tomato" not accepted?

    [deactivated user]

      Spoiler alert

      Because it leaves out the word ¨solo¨ (only) and changes the sentence´s meaning.


      No. And if you think about it, don't you too find it reasonable not to accept it?

      I can give you examples or point toward a missing word, but I'm sure you'll figure it out if you take a second look. :)


      In English is it tomatoe or tomato. I get confused


      singular = tomato plural = tomatoes


      Can someone help me out with why this is un tomate and not uno tomate? Since it says 1 tomato, not a tomato, i'm a bit confused.


      "One" and "a" are the same in Spanish, which is understandable as they are basically the same sentiment, and either is "uno". But when preceding a masculine noun they drop the "o" and become "un". So number or article, it's "un tomate".


      Joining the party of those not understanding the need of "one"


      Solo quiero un tomate: Does it mean "I only want one tomato" (i.e. I do not want anything else) or does it mean "I only want one tomato" (i.e. I do not want more tomatoes, but I might also want onions, for instance). The lesson accepts both, but they are not the same


      That is exactly the answer a gave!


      So would, "Solo quiero uno tomate" be saying the same thing?

      • 1608

      You'd be understood, but it's wrong. Proper Spanish grammar drops the -o in uno before all masculine nouns.


      I think if they meant one tomato, 'uno' would be used rather than 'un'


      Dick and Bai, uno drops the o before a noun. [Uno tomate] is not correct; it is "un tomate." So, "un tomate" means both "one tomato" and "a tomato." Una casa = one house, and a house.

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