The meanings of 'portare' and 'prendere' I believe are more distinct in Italian than in English, so I think they are trying to make us appreciate that difference. 'Portare' is about moving something to a final destination, while 'Prendere' is about moving something away from an initial location.
While english 'bring' and 'take' have the same distinction, we can often use them interchangeably, when it becomes more about the journey, than the origin or the destination.
While take and bring can be interchanged they are not the same.
If I asked you to bring me something it would sound funny to replace it with take. The same if you are taking something to someone else I wouldn't replace it with bring. When talking about a future event you could say please bring a plate or please take a plate but it would depend on who is talking as to which would be the best fit.
The trouble is that DL, though it obviously uses American English as its main form, is usually good at accepting British variants. This makes it very frustrating when it suddenly doesn't take them, especially when you 'fail' a lesson for it. If DL only used the AE spellings we should indeed just have to grin and bear it. As it is, allow us BE speakers and spellers the odd grouch in the forums - though of course we should rather be reporting.
'li' is the direct object pronoun for 'them': http://italian.about.com/library/fare/blfare116a.htm. To say "the mom had taken them there", I think you would say "La mamma li aveva portati lì".
The direct object goes before the first part of the conjugated verb (ie, before aveva). Although not directly relevant here, note that indirect objects also generally go there as well, except for 'loro'. There's a good article about combining direct and indirect objects at http://italian.about.com/library/fare/blfare168a.htm. Also note that 'lì' (meaning 'there') has an accent on it and goes after the verb phrase.
I questioned this also, so I looked it up. The rules concerning agreement of the past participle with gender and number in compound verbs are a bit daunting in my opinion. Those who are studying Italian seriously should find the rules and memorize them. I found them in a book I have, but I'm sure they are available from many sources on the web.
Buonveloce: The rules aren't that daunting. If the auxiliary is essere the past participle agrees in gender and number with the subject. If the auxiliary is avere AND there's a direct object pronoun present it'll agree in gender and number with the pronoun. That's pretty much it.
i agree with you... daunting might be an overstatement, but i did qualify it with "a bit" and I was allowing for those who are more grammatically challenged. At any rate, I find four rules, not two, to wit: the past participle is modified in number and gender (a) with essere, always (b) with avere, optional if the preceding direct object pronoun is mi, ti, ci, or vi, or if the preceding pronoun is ne when it refers to a specific quantity (c) with avere, always if the preceding direct object pronoun is lo, la, li or le or with the pronoun ne when it refers to some or part of something, and (d) with avere, never with a preceding indirect object pronoun.
The distinction is clearer from the point of view of an observer. Let's say you are at point A with some money and you are transporting it to point B.
If the observer is at point B as well he will ask "Did you bring the money?"
If the observer is at point A (or elsewhere) he will ask "Did you take the money to point B?"
Around New York both of these are "bring" probably because "take" is already overloaded with a lot meanings.
All of this is assuming it's the same as in Turkish. I am only level 10 after all.
In terms of the conversation between Blomeley and Jeffrey, as I understand it, portare and prendere do not mean bring and take (respectively) in the way they are ascribing (which is the way english people would assume when you group the two words together like that - 'bring and take') . Portare is always used to indicate moving a thing from one place to another place. In English, we distinguish between bringing, taking and carrying, but in Italian it's not necessary. Portare covers all of them - I think of the English verb 'to transPORT'.
Prendere means to take in various different ways, but never moving a thing from one place to another. Rather it's more more grabbing or picking something up (eg he takes the umbrella from the stand), or what food you'll have (eg I'll have /take the risotto) , or what transport you'll take (eg I'm taking the train). There's valores links online to help with this distinction, including a good comment by another user, Mabby, that gives lots of examples to clarify these differences more thoroughly here:
In other sentences like this which I've come across on DL, 'la mamma' is translated as 'his/her/our etc. mum (or mom)', the possessive being implied. Here I had 'their mum' marked wrong, although I would equally understand 'their' to be implied here. I've reported I assuming that I am right, but can anyone suggest why that might not be the case here. (Also in my answer the British English 'mum' was rejected, which has never happened before and is just downright annoying!)
"It is possible, but not necessary, to elide singular direct object pronouns in front of verbs that begin with a vowel or forms of avere that begin with an h. However, the plural forms li and le are never elided." From: http://italian.about.com/library/fare/blfare116b.htm
Mario. No - the past participle has to agree with the pronoun object; it doesn't matter at all that the auxiliary is 'avere'. In this case the object is plural masculine, so 'portati'. By the way, since it's 'portati' then the pronoun object would be "li" referring to masculine nouns, people or objects. So mama had brought the boys, ragazzi, or she'd brought the books, libri: both would result in "portati".
Grazie mille per la spegazione chiarissima!! So if I understand it right, is it only the case when the direct objective is a pronoun, however, when the direct object is a noun, the past participle doesn't have to agree with the direct objective e.g. 'La mamma aveva portato i bambini'?
It is also worth remembering that the agreement of the participle with the direct object pronoun is only mandatory for third party (singular and plural) pronouns (lo, la, li, le). Agreement with other (first and second person) pronouns (mi,ti, ci, vi) is optional. In this exercise the object is third person plural so agreement is required.
Anthony: when you have a pronoun direct object in the compound past tense, the past participle must agree with it, so since you have "li" - them, then you need "portati". BTW, since it's 'li' you know that it refers to males or a mixed group -- or nouns that are masculine.