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  5. "Quando arrivava il postino?"

"Quando arrivava il postino?"

Translation:When would the mail carrier arrive?

May 2, 2014



Okay, I know we cannot make assumptions about languages from one to the other, but I thought the imperfect tense was a past tense. How does it get to mean "would arrive", which to me sounds like a conditional, implying time in the future?


jobachand: "Would" can refer to a habitual action in the past, as well as to a future conditional. E.g. When she was a girl, she would always play soccer. ..meaning she was in the habit of playing soccer. And: She would still play soccer if she had time [present/future conditional].


I wouldn't know how to explain it, but in Spanish this would be "¿Cuándo llegaba el cartero?" which is basically the same, "llegaba" is past meaning "he was arriving". When someone tells you they will come at X time or they always arrive at the same time you can use that construction to ask when they will arrive. It's something close to "when was he supposed to be arriving?"


Not quite. Using "would" in this way implies a repeating action in the past. E.g. "she would make me tea every morning" is the same as "she used to make me tea every morning" or "she made me tea every morning". These things make me glad to be a native English speaker, I appreciate it must be very confusing for non-English speakers.


Because "When did the mail carrier used to arrive?" sounds like unfavorable grammar when translated.


I answered "when did the mailman arrive" which was accepted but looking at the answer as DL has given it, and reading these comments, I don't think it should have been! My answer would be a one off question (as in, when did he arrive this morning?) while DL's solution is more like a regular occurrence, something Commisario Montolbano would ask (as in, when would he arrive, normally?). Do they actually mean similar things in Italian?


I just put used and had it corrected to use! WRONG!


You are all wrong. I'm not a native English speaker but even to me it is obvious that it has to be "use to" in negative sentences or questions. You say "I went to the store." but do you also say "I didn't went to the store." or "Did you went to the store?" NO! So then why would you do it in this case? I'm not trying to be mean here but sometimes I wonder why Americans even think about learning another language when they don't have a firm grasp of their own language.

This is what the Oxford American Dictionary says: 1 The construction used to is standard, but difficulties arise with the formation of negatives and questions. Traditionally, used to behaves as a modal verb, so that questions and negatives are formed without the auxiliary verb do, as in it used not to be like that and used she to come here? In modern English, this question form is now regarded as very formal or awkwardly old-fashioned, and the use with do is broadly accepted as standard, as in did she use to come here? Negative constructions with do, on the other hand (as in it didn’t use to be like that), although common, are informal and are not generally accepted.

<pre>2 There is sometimes confusion over whether to use the form used to or use to, which has arisen largely because the pronunciation is the same in both cases. Except in negatives and questions, the correct form is used to: we used to go to the movies all the time (not we use to go to the movies). However, in negatives and questions using the auxiliary verb do, the correct form is use to, because the form of the verb required is the infinitive: I didn’t use to like mushrooms (not I didn’t used to like mushrooms). </pre>


" I'm not trying to be mean here but sometimes I wonder why Americans even think about learning another language when they don't have a firm grasp of their own language." Wow, way to generalize all Americans the same way. Maybe you should focus on your own learning challenges and not others' difficulties.


cekay1:: DL is an interactive, user driven site. For the most part, as best I can tell, its users are amateurs trying to help themselves acquire a second language and ideally helping others in the process to understand the target language better or their own as native speakers. It serves no useful purpose, unless of course your goal is to offend, even antagonize an entire cultural group, to make the kind of silly broad generalization about Americans that you did. Pitiful.


generalmcmuffin: A year later & I realize my reply back then should have been directed as cekay1 whom you were quoting. My apologies! Better late than never.


I never said anything about "all americans". If you read that into my comment then that is probably your problem. But I assumed that the original post was written by an American. That might be offensive. But I still think that I'm right because I can't imagine Britons being so wrong about their own language.


cekay1: Of course you can't. That's your problem.


Cekay1 (with apologies to Cekay) perhaps you should review Duolingo's "Community Guidelines". You are violating them. Just so you know, while you may not have said "All Americans", you did say "Americans" which in fact implies "All Americans". Your prejudices and assumptions are only your problem.


MarySeltzer, Thank you!


Me too! I know I'm getting old, but I am certain that the correct phrasing is "used to" NOT "use to". Am I really losing it???


You are correct I think. When did the postman used to arrive is correct. I can't believe how much English grammar I am learning by studying Italian!


Negation in English uses "to do" + infinitive. You say, "I did not eat," not, "I did not ate."

Therefore, it makes no sense to say "I did not used to eat," because "used" is not the infinite form.

I do concede, however, that especially in America, it is a very common colloquial way of speaking.


I think the same.If it was ment to be conditional than it should not be in this chapter.


It's not that it's conditional. In English, we use the word would in the past tense. For example: When I was in the fifth grade, I would go to the museum on Tuesdays.


Thank you - this is the best explanation of this translation here.


exactly... your example is a conditional. Which is not the case of the sentence to translate.


I don't understand why you think my example is conditional. If it is just because of the use of the word "would," then I'm afraid you're mistaken. When the imperfect tense in romance languages—for example, "Io facevo"—is translated into English, the possible meanings include "I was doing," "I would do," or "I used to do." When I say, "I would do" in the imperfect tense in English, this describes a habitual action. The conditional tense, by contrast, describes probability, I situation that is likely to happen on the grounds that a particular condition is met. So there is a gramatical difference between saying, "When I was in school, I would do my homework each night," and "I would do my homework if I had more time." The first sentence describes a factual occurrence in the past; the second describes an event that could happen in the future if something else were to happen first.


You are right. Thanks for your long and clear explanation that allow us to learn more of another language besides the Italian.


Thank you!!!

I finally started the imperfetto lessons after holding off on them for weeks because I just couldn't wrap my head around the difference to using passato prossimo. I'm so glad I ran into your comment this early in the lessons because you just nailed it for me!

'Would' that's the keyword I'll remember, much better than 'used to'.


Rather than using "I would do" or "I used to do" or "I was doing" etc. The simpler term in English would be "I did".


DaveVelo1: "I did" could imply a single one time action in the past as in "I did it last night"" and that would require the compound past tense, not the imperfect. "L'ho fatto ieri sera".


Can't have did and used in the same sentence, or....?


I don't understand your question. Could you give more detail?


I think that Kajsao is asking if we can say in English: "When did the postman used to arrive?" Is it a mistake? Or maybe we should use "was" instead of "did"?


Oh, I see now. You would use "did." It's fine to use "did" and "used to + verb" in the same sentence."


I can only repeat what Flysalot already said: what you wrote,is past perfect,not past tense! It would mean the postman arrived before leaving a note at your door,for instance.


Forse è Il Postino Pat!


Can i say the postman


"When did the mailman use to arrive?" is correct." See here: >http://www.ldoceonline.com/dictionary/used-to

Longman is a well established reliable English Grammar used in both native English speaking countries and worldwide in EFL teaching.

I also checked it on Grammarly with the same result. >https://app.grammarly.com/


jaye16: I'll defer to Longman but to be honest, I'm not buying it. Using examples, without explanation or justification, in which 'use to' instead of "used to" are provided, doesn't make it right. If Longman indeed is used to teaching EFL, then as far as I'm concerned you're going to have students around the world using the phrase incorrectly.


As Longman did not fill the bill I'll present some other sources. I've taught EFL/ESL in the US and around the world for over 40 years.

:Oxford and Cambridge two major universities. MacMillan major language publishing house grammar.ccc.commnet.edu

http://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/used-to http://www.macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/british/used-to_1 http://dictionary.cambridge.org/grammar/british-grammar/modality-forms http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/auxiliary.htm


I think I see the problem. My objection was to saying or writing something like "She use to do X" which I hear and read all the time and which I consider incorrect, rather than "she used to do X' in other words simple past. I wasn't considering a sentence like "Did she use to do X," and wouldn't think of saying "did she used to do X," so maybe we're on the same page after all.


Ah, now I see. I thought the problem was the use in the interrogative, as in the Duo example here. Now, I'm happy to say we are in total agreement. Some of our "classmates" on Duo seem to have the wrong idea. Be well ciao


Jaye16: Thanks for your patience! I appreciate your input.


No prob. And thanks to you for the lingot. Have a good time on Duo.


quando il marito non stava in casa..... ¯_(ツ)_/¯



Why not "When was arriving the postman?"



It's true that when you're asking a question in English, the verb usually goes before the subject. For example, "Are you there?" If you're using two verbs, though, the subject goes between the two verbs most of the time. So the sentence would be "When was the postman arriving?" "The postman" is the subject, and the two verbs are "was arriving". Another example would be, "When did you get here?" I hope this helps.



Muito obrigado, celamba. Ajudou, sim, e muito! Aceite um 'lingot".


DL - first correct solution: When did the postman arrive - I said: 'when had the postman arrived?' - It is frustrating. I just can't get it!


It is because we don't study grammar in English. 'When did the postman arrive' is passato prossimo (I don't know the name in English) and 'when had the postman arrived' is more in the past - note that the first uses arrive (present) and the second arrived (the past participle).

Edit after looking stuff up:

When did the postman arrive (generally / on a regular basis) = imperfect = arrivava.

When did the postman arrive (yesterday) = present perfect / passato prossimo = e arrivato. (accent on the e)

When had the postman arrived = past perfect / trapassato prossimo = era arrivato.


I think "passato prossimo" means "recent past" but don't quote me on that!


That is the exact translation of Passato prossimo but its not what the tense is called in English. As I said my education lacked these details in my own language! I think its past perfect or something.


Flysalot: 'arrivava' would be called either the 'imperfect' tense in English or the 'simple past'. The term "past perfect' would be 'had + a past participle' so in this example, "had arrived" which in Italian would be "Lui era arrivato".


Sorry, you are are getting a bit mixed up and I'm not helping. Passato prossimo is the verb to have or to be plus past participle e.g. Lui e arrivato (can't do the accent) the example you have given is trapassato prossimo. I've looked it up: Passato prossimo =present perfect Trapassato prossimo = past perfect http://italian.about.com/od/verbs/a/aa081005a.htm

I've edited my post above to include what I learnt there.


The translation also suggested 'post' for postino. When I used it,it wasn't accepted. Reported


I have read the discussion here and contributed a bit. I think the big problem is that in English we don't really have an imperfect tense. It seems as though we do by using 'He used to do this' or he was doing' but really it is ok for us to say 'the postman arrived at nine' meaning that he always did this or 'the postman would arrive at' meaning he did this regularly as described by celanba. If duolingo allows all of these its ok. (and its not conditional) These are all different ways we express the imperfect in English.


It corrected my "used to" to "use to". When is that ever correct in English?


KVDY: "used to" is correct. Granted, in spoken English you'd very often not hear the 'd' pronounced, but when written 'use to' is incorrect.


I agree with you. I reported it as an error. Reading earlier comments I have to wonder whether they changed it because someone incorrectly complained about it not taking "use to".


• When did the postman arrive?

• When would the mailman arrive?

These are the answers that Duolingo has provided. I'm not an expert but I'm sure those 2 answers are opposites.


tehgote: yes and no. If "would" is being used in its conditional form, then yes, they're opposites: one is past, the other present or future conditional, as in "when would the mailman arrive, if he drove a truck instead of walking?" On the other hand, "would" can refer to a PAST factual, habitual action as in "When would the mailman arrive, when you lived on a farm?" Meaning: When would he usually arrive or when was he in the habit of arriving. So in this case 'when did the postman arrive' and 'when would the mailman arrive' are similar since they both refer to past actions. Even the first sentence can refer to an habitual action: "When did the postman arrive when you used to live on a farm?" Hope this helps.


Yeah that makes sense, thanks.


How i can translate this sentence in english: Quando arriverebbe il postino?


DaGot66: I believe it'd also be "When would the postman arrive" BUT not in the factual sense of "When did he in fact use to arrive? Rather in a conditional sense, e.g. "When would the postman arrive, if he were given more mail to deliver." I'm not sure, but I think that's the difference.


Speaking as a purist, in (British) English I do not like the use of "would" to represent the imperfect. It is really a conditional. It is more natural to just say "when did the postman arrive?", leaving it open and subject to context to determine whether the questioner means on one occasion or habitually.


Kieran...Don't! Think about it: 'give' is to offer something to someone; 'up' is the opposite of 'down'. But at some point you learned what "I give up" means, which has nothing to do with the individual words. So stick with it, it'll get easier.


Don't worry, I have no intention of giving up. I've enjoyed my times with DL, just sometimes it's inconsistent and leaves me frustrated. But thanks for your encouragement anyway.


This doesn't make sense. arrivava = coming. Arrivare = arrive. "When is the postman coming?" would be the correct translation.


DaveVelo1: No. Your suggested translation is incorrect because 'arrivava' is the imperfect past tense, not a form of the present. It translates as "When would the postman arrive" referring to a habitual/repetitive act in the past, as in "When would the postman arrive, when you lived in rural Alaska?" Or it'd translate as "When did the postman use to arrive?" -- again as a past habitual event.


In the slow audio, the correct word "postino" sounds more like postina.


In day to day conversation, is this tense usually used in asking about the arrival of someone or the future tense is used, or it depends?


Martin...this is used to describe an habitual PAST action, not future. "Would" in the above translation is not a future auxiliary/conditional. It refers to the past and means: "was in the habit of usually doing" whatever action is described. I hope this helps. As for daily usage, yes it's used when talking about things that routinely occurred as a customary action in the past, not a single, one-time event that'd be expressed by the present perfect.


If I were writing this sentence in Italian would "Quando il postino arrivava?" also be a correct way of phrasing it? If not why not? Thanks for your input.


hints leave you with no clear idea as to what they want. When would the mailman arrive, vs when does the mailman arrive. In the USA when asking about the arrival of the mailman, milkman, anyone, we would say/ask when does he arrive. Because when asking 99.99% of the time, we are asking at what time the mailman will show up. We would never say when would. Because when would implies why is the mailman showing up. We know why the mailman is showing up, he has mail to deliver. So there is no reason to ask when would in this situation.


32vld: In this case you're incorrect. The sentence isn't present tense and the 'would arrive' is NOT conditional, so your reasoning's wrong. "when would he arrive" is past tense as in" When you were a child, when would the mailman arrive." You need to learn the difference between "would" as a conditioinal verb form and "would" as a past tense form expressing an habitual action. In this sentence it's the past tense used to express an habitual or repetitive action.


Can you also translate it as "When did the postman arrive" or "When was the postman arriving"


madredomo: Since use of the imperfect suggests a repetitive action, while your sentence suggests a 1-time event, you might want to add a phrase such as "When did the postman as a rule/normally/usually/etc arrive?" Then the habitual nature of the action would be clear.


Translation: When would the mail carrier arrive? Mail carrier? What even is that. Postman or mailman if American (I believe) would be the correct options but not mail carrier.


when used the postman arrive? What's wrong with that?


what in the hell is a mail carrier ffs - i suppose that in the states things have to be made clear as in "horse back riding" instead of just riding a horse- where else would you sit on a horse other than on its back or like "sidewalk" instead of pavement because they have to be instructed to walk on the side of the road. But mail carrier!! Really in the UK we have a Postal Service [generally shortened to the Post] and the people that deliver said post are postmen quite simple really


I said "When used the postman arrive". That means the same as "when would he arrive"


That is not English. We say "When used the postman to arrive?" Wake up Duolingo - American English is not the only standard.


In England we say postman not mail carrier


In English we say postman not mail carrier


This translation is too silly for words. almost all English people would ask 'What time does the post come? I've never heard anything remotely like your answer.


Is "mail carrier" an AE term? Here in the UK those who bring the post are "postmen" formally and invariably "posties" informally.


Mail carrier? Postman sounds much better.


Not one person in England (except maybe a visiting American) would use this expression. They would say 'When does the postman (or post) come/arrive'


I am fast coming to the conclusion that this sentence should bevreoved! Both the tense and the translation are causing problems and dear duo is not dealing with it!!


please do not use 'mail carrier'. even 'mailman/woman' would be acceptable to Americans. the DL answer is clumsy and not current. UK speakers would use 'postman/woman' or just 'postie'.


Eh? Did use? That's even worse!


I put "When did the mailman use to arrive" without a "d" on "use" and was marked incorrect. I believe that duolingo is wrong here. In the positive sense "I used it" is correct but in the negative "I did not use it" without the "d" is correct, the word "did" being that which indicates the past tense. I will report it and hope that somebody backs me up! I sometimes wonder who checks the English translations for Duolingo. I am available for a fee!!!


Sorry this is not good English. The word "Use" is the verb about making use of things. "Used to" indicates the past tense so the 'd' is essential.
Having said that "when did the postman used to arrive" is a very awkward sentence, although it may be correct.


"use" and "used to" have to completely different meanings. We use "used to" to talk about actions that were habitually carried out in the past (but that we do no longer). I used to wake up at 10.30am. I used to watch the television every day. I used to eat lots of junk food.


I back you up and will report it. It should be did use.


Sorry you are wrong 'Used to' is correct not 'use to'


would is conditional, it changes the meaning al all!


Please see celanba' thorough and excellent explanatiion.


agusnina: Not always. So as to not repeat myself, see my comment above re when 'would" may refer also to a past habitual action.


"Would" Quando "sarebbe arrivato" il postino.


I agree with you in the conditinal tense we must use sarebbe and dovrebbe

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