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"Questi sono libri molto vecchi."

Translation:These are very old books.

4 years ago

25 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Liz5112

why is "these books are very old" incorrect?

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/itastudent
itastudent
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It's not very literal, and doesn't exactly reflect the same context.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/JosephsMama88

Still, regardless of it being literal or not, it's still a colloquial way of speaking. The sentence is technically correct.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/itastudent
itastudent
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I don't actually think they are exactly the same. If you say "these are very old books" you are talking about some undefined objects and you are providing two pieces of information: 1) these (objects) are books 2) these (objects) are very old

That sentence aims to define what the object is. It answer to the questions "what are these?". "These are very old books!"

If you say "these books are very old", it sounds to me that the person you are talking to already knows what they are... they are books (so he/she does already know information #1 ), and you are just going to provide information #2. The sentence answers to the question "how are these books?". "These books are very old".

I can make a better example; let's say that a friend shows you a weird box and says "this is a very old telephone". Your first reaction will probably be "WOW". Your friend has just defined to you what that mysterious object is.

If your friend shows you the box and says "this telephone is very old", your first reaction would probably be "is that a telephone???". Your friend is assuming you already knew that weird object was a telephone. His/her goal was actually to provide you a description of that object, he/she was not going to tell you what that object is, but how it is.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/birkos
birkos
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Sorry not convinced. The purpose of language is to transmit information; ideally without ambiguity but usually, there is not just one way of doing this. I can't think of a sentence that has only one translation but that might be my lack of imagination. Duolingo often gives leeway in translation reflecting the real world. The reason Duolingo marked "these books are very old" wrong is because it is a computer programme with imperfections. These imperfections can be removed but that often takes a long time

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/itastudent
itastudent
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As I already said, those sentences are used in different contexts. If you imagine the contexts where you use each sentence (which is what I tried to explain above), you realize those are different and used in different situations. You can't just change the order of the word to express exactly the same thing, since changing the order of the words implies a change in the role of the words in the sentence.

ANALYSIS OF THE SENTENCES

One phrase ("these are very old books") just describes what "these things" I am talking about are. "These" is a demonstrative pronoun, which is the subject of the sentence, while "very old books" is the predicative nominal, which is used to describe the subject "these".

The other phrase ("these books are very old") provides an additional explanation about how "these books" are. Here, "these" is a demonstrative adjective and "these books" plays the role of the subject of the sentence. "Very old" is the predicative adjective, which is used to describe the subject "these books".

CONTEXT

To give (again!) some context, if a friend asks me "what are these?", I would never answer "these books are very old" (he's asking to describe "these", probably he doesn't even know they are books). The predicative expression should refer to "these", which should be the subject of the sentence. Therefore, the correct way to phrase the answer in this context is "these are very old books".

If my friend asks me "how are these books?", I wouldn't find exactly correct to answer "these are very old books". He already knows those are books, so I should just give a description for "these books", i.e. "these books" should be the subject of my sentence, and my predicative expression should refer to "these books". As a result, in this case a better way to answer is "these books are very old".

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/rogercchristie
rogercchristie
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@ itastudent, and birkos:
Thank you for an excellent illustration of the difference between translation and interpretation. What you say is interesting, but it is over the top for us novices.
So let's stick to the simple basic vocabulary and grammar. Reduce each sentence to the fundamentals and we get:
- Questi sono libri molto vecchi. / These are very old books. --- Questi sono libri. / These are books. The object of the sentence is "libri/books".
- Questi libri sono molto vecchi. / These books are very old. --- Questi sono vecchi. / These are old. The object of the sentence is "vecchi/old".

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ashlward
ashlward
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Report it

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Norcon4

Why is it "molto" instead of "molti?"

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/thenoblesunfish
thenoblesunfish
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Molto has two meanings. It can mean many (an adjective), in which case, like all other adjectives, it changes its ending, as in Ci sono molti animali. It can also mean very (an adverb), in which case it does not change its ending, as in Gli animali sono molto belli.

It's a bit confusing, but the way I remember this is by thinking of which word molto is modifying - adjectives don't have gender/number by themselves, so molto doesn't change.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Tongue-twisted

Ok…. after thinking this over again… I think i have come up with the answer myself: In this case "molto" is used as an adverb (meaning: "very,") and as a result…. it doesn't change its ending in agreement with the word it is describing (here the adjective "vecchi"). Think that should be the reason WHY.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Tongue-twisted

Yes, I would like to know this, too.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/carobarro

I was wondering the same thing

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Naralli
Naralli
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because it's "molto vecchi". these are two adjectives and in this case only the second adjective gets the plural i. if you write "many books" it's molti libri because it defines the books. goes with the subject. it's the same for "troppo cari" e.g. i libri sono troppo cari

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/judoi49

molto is acting as an adverb not an adjective; if it were an adjective then it should have been molti

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/SphagnumPeatMoss

Adjectives modify nouns. They do not modify other adjectives. Molto can be used as an adjective to mean "many." In this context, it is used as an adverb akin to the English "very."

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/carli1195
carli1195
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Oh come on, 'really' and 'very' are interchangeable surely?

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/thenoblesunfish
thenoblesunfish
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They are often quite interchangeable (in informal, spoken American English), but I think in this case it's important to note that davvero is a much more direct translation of really.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/wilywoll

Hi all, isastudent has described the English Grammer perfectly which I found very interesting in the way he explained the difference.(I awarded him a Lingot,) as I also answered "These books are very old" and was marked wrong. (BTW I'm English) But I also think, it is a bit too critical of DL to mark this translation wrong. Can someone write the sentence " These books are very old" in Italian please, so I can see the difference in written Italian. Thanks in advance.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/sharkbbb
sharkbbb
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  • Questi libri sono molto vecchi = These books are very old
  • Questi sono libri molto vecchi = These (ones) are very old books
2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/JuniV2
JuniV2
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I said "these books are very old"....why is that wrong?

8 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/birkos
birkos
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Get a life DL These books are very old should be allowed We are not United Nations translators!!

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Mantolio
Mantolio
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Hmm...I think both answers should be usable. Since, many of learners are not native speakers and they might miss that slight difference which was mentioned by dear itastudent. As he explained, both answers are usable (remember, context and meaning differs). In addition, it must be stressed that we are learning Italian, thus these slight differencies should not be put into account. The situation would change if Italian speaker is learning English. Just my 2cents. Peace

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jetbar46
jetbar46
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I agree that "these books are very old" is also a correct translation into English.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/mestran
mestran
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"These books are very old" has the same meaning and should be a correct translation. There may be some esoteric grammatical difference, but from a practical standpoint this is correct..

2 years ago