"Lui ci ha portate allo zoo."
Translation:He has taken us to the zoo.
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Ooh, ooh, I just learned the answer to this one, so I'm happy to share the love. That you noticed that indicates that you have a good eye.
"When preceded by avere, participle does not change in gender and number except when the direct object pronoun (what substitutes la torta or le rane) moves behind the auxiliary."
In this case, the speaker is one of a group of women, and since there is a "ci" particle appearing before the "ha", the participle matches the gender and number of the direct object (in this case, although it doesn't actually appear, that would be ragazze or donne).
See this answer for a longer and probably more accurate explanation: http://duolingo.com/#/comment/271063
So actually the pronoun "ci" is substituting for "noi ragazze," not actually a general "we" like we think in English, where it only can be a neutral word, or where there is no such thing as altering verbs to accommodate gender/ number.
I think that if it were referring to a group of people of mixed gender or males, it would have to be Lui ci ha portati allo zoo.
Yes this is my understanding as well. It is not the pronoun lui that the past participle must agree with when avere is preceded, but the direct object ci. It makes sense that the Italian language gives a clue to the listener so they understand in this case that "us" refers to a group of girls. "Ha" then is also illuminated by including lui. We often lose our way in these situations and such assists are welcome, if we just learn to parse them out.
English has its issues too in this regard. In English we might say the following: he took us to the zoo and then we went to the park. Who is included in the trip to the park? In Italian it would be obvious for the Duolingo example given further above. If he came along with the female group then the next participle would end in "i." If not, "e."
Just to add on to the discussion a bit, when the direct object pronouns lo, la, l', li, and le directly precede the transitive verb (a verb conjugated with avere) in the present perfect, the agreement of the past participle (in gender and number) with the pronoun is mandatory.
However, if the verb is directly preceded by mi, ti, ci, or vi, for example, as in this case, the agreement is completely optional. Thus, this sentence could also have been written "Lui ci ha portatO allo zoo." This gives you some options. :D Hope this helps!
If the location indicates the end destination of the motion action (the place people are moving to/toward), we use the verb portare. In English, we can translate these sentences with the verb “to take”. For example:
- Domani mattina ti porto alla stazione.
I’m taking you to the station tomorrow morning.
- Maria mi ha chiesto se la posso portare a scuola.
Maria asked me if I can take her to school.
- Ti posso portare a casa.
I can take you home.
If the location indicates the origin of the motion action (the place people are moving from), we use the verb prendere. In English, we can translate these sentences with the verb “to get”. For example:
- Chi ti viene a prendere all’aeroporto?
Who is coming to get you at the airport?
- A che ora devi andare a prendere tua figlia a scuola?
What time do you have to go get your daughter at school?
- A che ora ti vengo a prendere a casa domani mattina?
What time should I come and get you (from your house) tomorrow?
"Verbs of movement" is an easy-to-understand way of explaining which verbs take "avere" and which take "essere", however is not a 100% accurate method.
Transitive verbs (verbs capable of taking a direct object) take "avere".
Intransitive verbs (verbs incapable of taking a direct object, so often verbs of motion like "go") take "essere".
Since "portare" can take a direct object, it takes "avere".