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  5. "Non si può sapere quando arr…

"Non si può sapere quando arriveranno."

Translation:You cannot know when they will arrive.

June 11, 2014



The English translations they offer are all very awkward. The impersonal "one" construction is not frequently used in modern English. A much more natural and commonly used phrase would be:

"It's impossible to know when they will arrive."

It's not a direct translation but the meaning remains the same and it is a phrase that's actually used!


100% agree. The english form they give should be in italian simply "Non puoi sapere"


"One isn't able to know" ?


I have no problem with 'one cannot know ...' It is a more literal translation but it has the desired meaning.


I think, the Italian variant is about "Nobody can know"


The translation in english should be..."we could not know when they will arrive". I think "can not know" is incorrect english. Just stating my opinion! What do the rest of you think?


I put "you cannot tell when they will arrive" but it didn't work.


Why "you" when "può" is third person? Or is it because when one uses the generic word "one" it is often, instead, "you"? I thought it should be "he" or "she." But duo wouldn't accept that.


Mainly because the impersonal "one" in modern English is rarely used, is reserved for very special instances, is seen as stylized and overly formal, and is usually replaced by "You" or "We".

You see - I mean, one sees :-), - the same thing in French, where "we can" or "you can" is often translated as "on peut" = "one can". It doesn't really mean "one can" even in French (except literally), but is taken more generally to actual refer to "we" or "you" without using the exact "nous" or "vous". on peut is not a formal way of saying something, it's used frequently in colloquial expressions, just like "you can" or "we can" is used in English.

I'd wager the same is true in Italian - that they do not think in terms of "one can", but use si può as a kind of way of avoiding the informality of addressing someone you don't really know with tu/noi while also avoiding the directness of *voi".

As a result, I don't think that si può is as formal as "one can".


I wrote this - marked wrong because I did not use the word ‘we’. Why?


You need highlight and copy/paste your entire answer in the discussion section. There may be something else wrong with the sentence, but we can't tell unless we see the entire answer.


Can't you say "you cannot know WHEN WILL THEY arrive"?


It would be incorrect, because what comes after '... know' is a statement of what is not known and not a question. The confusion comes from the inherent versatility of English words not changing with different grammar constructs. For example, 'when' is a question in the sentence 'When do you arrive?' and not a question in the sentence 'I shall see you, when you arrive.'.


The word-order in English declaratory sentences is subject-verb. [Declaratory sentences make a statement rather than ask a question.]

The word-order in English question sentences is verb-subject - and that includes any part of a compound verb preceding the subject, as in your sentence.

"Will they arrive?" is a question. "They will arrive." is declaratory.

Note that with compound verbs in English questions, the auxiliary verb comes before the subject but the main verb comes after it: "When will they arrive, when do they arrive, when can they arrive, when should they arrive, when could they arrive, when would they arrive, etc."

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