"La nipote assomiglia a sua zia."

Translation:The niece looks like her aunt.

April 12, 2013

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so nipote can be both la and il? il nipote and la nipote?


why do you need the "a" sua zia?


Assomigliare is similar to piacere in that it's intransitive in Italian and transitive in English: it's "to be similar", so more or less "the niece is similar to her aunt" - the Italian 'a' has the same function as the English 'to'.


I was thinking that the use of "a" here is simply as a link to relate the two parts of the sentence ie prepositional. Isn't "sua zia" a direct object in the above sentence? In which case the verb assomigliare is being used transitively in this case? (To aid understanding of this discussion for others - some Italian verbs are intransitive, not taking a direct object, and govern the use of "a" and "di" after them eg "assomigliare a qualcuno" = To look like someone.) I'd appreciate your further clarification :)


To be honest I think I made a mistake considering "to look like" transitive, the two verbs are probably similar in that regard; in Italian when a preposition is used the object is always indirect (the reverse is usually true except with clitic pronouns), but I'm not sure how it is in English (for instance the Merriam-Webster considers "we look to have a good year" transitive and "he looks the other way" intransitive).

The transitive usage of "somigliare" according to the dictionary was to compare, to liken, so "assomigliare qualcuno/qualcosa a qualcuno/qualcosa" meant "to liken someone/something to someone/something". That usage is archaic and literary. Nowadays the verb "assomigliare" is considered intransitive, but it's true that if you consider the verb+preposition (something Italian grammars don't usually do) the usage of "assomigliare a" is definitely transitive.

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