English also has words to distinguish between household items that are "moveable" vs. "unmoveable." The English word furnishings is used to describe moveable items such as furniture, curtains, rugs, and pictures -- in other words, items that are not fixtures. The singular noun furnishing, while seldom used, is a legitimate English word. However, it is unlikely that a speaker of English would say The key is on the furnishing, since our linguistic conventions require the use of a more specific word.
I think it might go back to ancient Roman law. Items that were immovable (for example, land) were governed by different rules of ownership than items that could be moved. It is rather nice that knowledge of Roman law might help with modern Italian vocabulary. Of course, I could be wrong.
The problem is that it really is impossible to translate this sentence into English without mentioning the particular piece of furniture the key was left on. The logical solution to this problem is for Duolingo to accept whatever piece of furniture the student wishes to nominate, such as cabinet, chair, sofa, etc. Duolingo's own translation does not make sense in English. One would never say this.
The problem is that it really is impossible to translate
this sentence into English without mentioning the particular
piece of furniture the key was left on.
I agree with you. No native speaker would say, "I left it on the piece of furniture" -- (unless for some reason they didn't really know what to call that particular piece of furniture, I suppose, but hardly likely.)
I also agree - I opted to translate it as sideboard and got it wrong, of course. I realise the exercise here is to learn Italian, but in English furniture is a collective noun and we tend to name items of furniture. Duolingo needs to recognise this when providing translations if it is to be truly useful for all learners i.e. in Italian you might say 'mobile' but in English we would not say 'on the piece of furniture' unless there were only one piece in the room and you didn't know what it was called!
Agreed, which is why I knew it would be wrong as I wrote. However, I find it difficult to write something that is clearly not reasonable English so I am willing to be marked wrong from time to time just to see what DL will accept. Of course, keys on the furniture would be quite acceptable .
But the Italian sentence has the exact same problem - il mobile doesn't indicate what piece of furniture it is. Italian also has specific words for chair/table/couch/etc... So Duolingo shouldn't accept chair or sofa here because that's not a correct translation for il mobile.
I agree it is a bit of a useless sentence but so are many of the other sentences we get (I am never going to use - for example - gli elefanti sono i tuoi, or chi è l'uomo nella vasca? among many others)
It is confusing because in English furniture refers to the entire meublement, every chair,sofa etc in the room( or even house). In italian un mobile is one of the chairs, sofas etc. Luckily (for me) it is the same pattern as in Swedish, but I too was confused(albeit in the other direction) when I was learning this in English, way back when...
BUt this word, mobile, until here wasn´t been taught, was it? That´s why, the discussion over here is about this particular word. I heard Mobile in the audio, but i didn´t know that word yet. Only as all you say, like the mobile, the cellphone, or something that can be moved. but not this concept in italian.
1) singular nouns with the ending "a" are feminine nouns, and form their plural with the ending "e"
2) singular nouns with the ending "o" are masculine nouns, and form their plural with the ending "i"
3) singular nouns with the ending "e" are feminine/masculine nouns and form their plural with the ending "i"
4) irregular nouns
you can consider the (3) "irregular nouns", but in reality there are a lot of nouns in that category
1) 35% - 2) 35% - 3) 25% - 4) 5%
As others have noted: furniture is mobile, whereas cupboards, closets, some counter tops and other fixtures are not. "Fixtures" is an important term in lease and rental documents.
Secondly, the translation to English is awkward since furniture is a plural and could mean the entire house contents. So if you were to answer someone with "the keys are on the furniture" this very vague and obtuse reply might result in your getting an insult in return, since someone looking for their keys would like a specific location, not "furniture" which is scattered throughout the entire house.
"piece of furniture" has a general meaning (table, sofa, bed, fridge, ... are pieces of furniture), therefore in this case it is wrong to translate "... è sul mobile" with "... is on the piece of furniture" because if I tell you "La chiave è sul mobile" I mean a definite piece of furniture. So I would translate "mobile" with "cabinet", that is a more appropiate word in this type of sentence.
Every now and then I run a word through Google Translate. "Mobile" translates to English "Mobile." "Furniture" translates to "Mobilia". Piece of furniture translates to "Pezzo di mobili". When I use some other apps they sometimes have typos and things. And since I don't speak Italian, if resources don't agree, it's hard for me to know if I'm learning something incorrectly. :(
I don't think Google Translate is a good resource for lerners: it often gives very odd translations, and it gives no grammar information in its "definitions". My suggestion is to choose a good dictionary, and if you want to investigate further on some expressions, use online resource (e.g. http://dictionary.reverso.net gives a number example sentences that are translated by humans).
Now, regarding your examples: "mobile" translates to "mobile" only when used as an adjective, not as a noun. "Mobilia" is a quite accurate translation of furniture because it is a collective noun (it is singular), while "mobili" is just the plural of "mobile". On the other hand "mobili" is more frequent, both in spoken and written Italian. "Pezzo di mobili" is completely wrong: no italian speaker would use this expression, that almost sounds like an insult.
Google Translate Is Notoriously Bad, Quite Often You Can Translate Something Into A Language And Back And You'll Get A Sentence That Not Only Is Completely Different From What You Originally Entered, But Also Makes No Sense, I Think Once I Put Some Sentence Through All Languages And It Turned My Perfectly Valid Sentence, Not Involving "One" Of Anything, Into The Number One.
Furniture is a non-count noun, but it is also a collective noun: a cover term for a class of individual items. Such nouns imply plurality, but are singular in form.
In order to specify that you are talking about a single piece of furniture,
(without specifying the type) you indeed refer to it as "a piece of furniture".
What probably bothers you, is the fact that this specific sentence is unnatural in English due to the fact that for the sake of clarity, one would prefer to say what type of furniture they are talking about.
e.g., "The key is on the couch / desk / coffee table".
While "furniture" is grammatically singular, as it is a non count noun,
it is also a collective noun in meaning, that is used to refer to the group.
When wanting to specify in English that you are talking about one,
you say "a piece of furniture".
This may not be so common, as in day to day life you'd mostly name the type of furniture, but it is the proper way to describe a single piece of furniture without specifying the kind.
Plural: i mobili = the furniture.
Singular: il mobile = the piece of furniture.
In English, Furniture Is A Mass Noun, While The Italian Equivalent Is A Count Noun. A Couch Is A Mobile, So Is A Chair, Or A Table, And You Could Also Say They're Pieces Of Furniture, However Saying "The Couch Is A Furniture" Or "The Table Is Furniture" Don't Make Much Sense In English, If You Have All Three Things Together, In Italian You Have Dei Mobili, Some Furniture, While In English You Have, As Stated Before, Some Furniture, Or Some Pieces Of Furniture.
Of course we can just use the word furniture in English- e.g. 'I am buying furniture for my new house'. Your example suggests a number of things spread over a number of pieces of furniture, which can collectively be termed 'the furniture'. Unless the set of keys has been split up and spread around, it would be very unusual not to specify on which piece of furniture they are to be found. The main point here is that furniture is a generic and collective term. In English, if we wanted to find the keys, we would name the specific piece of furniture...that is why the sentence is difficult to translate. I suspect that Italians would also specify the item of furniture, unless there were only one piece of furniture in the room.
First of all, we have a "new" concept in English: our mobile. To be fair in current Italian this is called "il mobilo". However "The key is on the piece of furniture" is just ridiculous in English and would never be said. I propose replacing this question with "La chiave e sul mobilo" meaning "The key is on the smartphone".
Please DL would you put your key somewhere else! This sentence does not translate well into English. I am not even certain that Italians would be that vague when describing where the key is situated. In both languages you would have to be more specific if you you wanted the key found, unless the room had only one piece of furniture in it...even then you would most likely say -'on the table/chair/desk' etc.
(American English speaker) We need to learn to think in Italian. I was taught this word "mobile" in another course also, to mean "a piece of furniture," i.e., something that can be moved. BTW when I visited Italy I'm pretty sure I saw a sign that said "Immobili" to mean how we would say "Real Estate," something that cannot be moved.