"I am a butterfly."
Translation:Io sono una farfalla.
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The word essere is a verb, it means "to be" When using it, you conjugate it: Io sono (I am) Tu sei (You are) Lui/Lei è (he/she is) Noi siamo (we are) Voi siete (You are) Loro sono (they are)
Since its just a verb, it can be used for both humans and animals:
Io sono l'uomo. I am the man.
L'ape è un insetto. The bee is an insect. Io sono un ape. I am a bee.
Also, you can choose to not use the pronoun (io,tu,lui,lei,noi,voi,Loro) and just say the conjugation of the verb, they would both make sense.
Sono un ragazzo. I am a boy.
È un uomo. He is a man.
Sei una bambina. You are a girl. (younger than 10 usually is bambina/bambino)
If you are a Spanish speaker, you might be thinking of two verbs "to be" in español, ser and estar. Italian has something somewhat similar with essere and stare. Here's a couple links: https://www.mytutor.co.uk/answers/7355/A-Level/Italian/What-is-the-difference-between-the-verbs-essere-and-stare/ and https://grammar.collinsdictionary.com/us/italian-easy-learning/essere-and-stare The verbs come from Latin esse and stare, but each Romance language handled the division of labor for the verbs differently.
I don't know about Italian as I'm a beginner but I know some German. In German there are gender-specific nouns only for some species of animals (eg cows and bulls, sows and boars) and every other species has been assigned a noun that is grammatically masculine or feminine without rhyme nor reason.
Remember grammatical gender is essentially a way of categorising nouns. So in Italian the noun for "butterfly" is in the feminine category of nouns while the noun for "insect" is in the masculine category of nouns. We English-speakers find this hard to get our head around. "Una farfalla" is "a butterfly" whether it's a male or female one.
If German-speakers want to be more specific they use the use the adjectives for "male" or "female" along with the noun. You would indeed be "a male butterfly" in German. I think Italian will be the same.
You're probably right, however some languages, including Italian and Slavic languages, are more flexible when it comes to create diminutive forms and neologisms. Therefore it's easy to say farfallina ("little butterfly", feminine) and farfallino ("little butterfly", masculine). However the latter word is already taken and it means "bowtie".
For instance in Polish, motyl ("butterfly", masculine) and its diminutive motylek ("little butterfly") can be easily transformed into: motyla ("butterfly", feminine, neologism - sounds wrong, because it's identical to masculine singular genitive of motyl - "of butterfly") or motylka ("butterfly", feminine, neologism - sounds better, but like a diminutive). Third option, motylica is already taken and it means "liver fluke" (certain species of a parasite).
Are you sure you can say "Loro sono una farfalla" for "They are a butterfly"? In English the sentence sounds OK but that may be because of an idiosyncrasy of English, one of recent development.
Nowadays in English we can use "they" to refer to one person, for example, "Go to the service desk and tell the man or woman there what your problem is and they will help you". I remember fifty years ago we would have had to say "... and he or she will help you".
But that's English. What about Italian? I doubt you can use "loro" as a pronoun to stand in for one person - a person who in this case is "una (singular) farfalla". I don't know if I've managed to make my point. I'm no grammarian! :-D
The sentence "they are a butterfly" obviously doesn't make any sense and "they" refers to many persons, not one. But if someone wanted to translate it to Italian, that would be "loro sono una farfalla". Just "sono una farfalla" would be naturally understood as "io sono una farfalla" ("I am a butterfly").
I have to disagree here with Nathan. I think "they are a butterfly" depending on context does make sense due to how English has recently changed. The pronoun "they" that could in the past be used only to stand in for plural things/animals/people can now be used to stand in for a singular thing/animal/person.
For example: "At the pageant, if you see a little wing-wearing boy or girl in costume you'll know they're a butterfly".
Italian hasn't changed in this way. As Nathan says, the only meaning "sono una farfalla" can have is "I am a butterfly".
You would use "io" in, for example, "io sono una farfalla" if you wanted to emphasise that I'm the one who is a butterfly. The subject pronouns are used for emphasis.
The other reason for using the subject pronouns is to avoid ambiguity. For example, if you were talking about two people, one a man, one a woman, and you said "È in Roma" it wouldn't be clear which of them was in Rome so you'd use "lui" ("he") and "lei" ("she").