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"Ellos no pudieron dormir."

Translation:They were not able to sleep.

1
5 years ago

29 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/salsabandit

what's the differenc betwen "they were niot able..." and "they were unable..." none so far as i can tell

11
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Christophe2068

In English there is no difference between "unable" and "not able,"

18
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AurosHarman

"To be (un)able" is often acceptable as a translation of "(no) poder", but it's not really the best. "Ser (in)capaz" is a more precise match to that English expression. Forms of "can" (including "could") are generally better for "poder".

17
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Talca
Talca
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Why do these sentences jump between the conditional and the pretérito? Is DL trying to teach the modal verb in different tenses in one lesson? If so, it's a great idea. Because poder is such an irregular verb, this is a great exercise in trying to remember which is POD and which is PUD--and the subjunctive PUE...

6
Reply3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/elissaf1
elissaf1
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The section I'm in is the modal verbs. My last sentence had 'could' (which was an conditional) and this has 'could not' (which turned it into preterit).

You can design a negative conditional sentence, but I think since the topic isn't conditional, but modals, I think the verb itself forces the change in tense (rather than some plan on the part of the designers).

4
Reply2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AurosHarman

When I come back to look at the comments, from the notice of your reply, it doesn't actually tell me what lesson it was part of. But it's definitely true that there's a lesson about the modals as a class, across all tenses. https://www.duolingo.com/skill/es/Verbs:-Modal

2
Reply3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Jeffrey855877
Jeffrey855877
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In English, being unable or not able to do something (same difference) covers both a lack of capacity to do something (lack of knowledge, training, etc.) which is a personal, intrinsic want of ability, AND the inability to do something because of forces beyond one's control, such as a flat tire making you unable to get some place on time. Thus, lacking capacity is only one aspect of being "unable" to do something.

The question then is: Does ser (in)capaz include being incapacitated by things beyond your control (the flat tire), or does it simply mean you're just not up to doing something because of a personal lacking of ability?

3
Reply11 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/cdntinpusher

"Ellos no podían dormir." Does it have a different meaning than this sentence? How does one decide whether to use preterit poder + infinitive vs imperfect poder + infinitive? Gracias.

8
Reply5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Rickydito

cdntinpusher: "Ellos no podían dormir" would be something like "When we lived by the railroad tracks, we were not able to sleep". That is, in the past, but over an unknown, continuous, period of time. "Ellos no pudieron dormir" would be something like "They were not able to sleep last night", a specific, one-time event.

35
Reply4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/pkocal

No pudieron dormir last night vs no podian dormir the whole time they were here???

3
Reply5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jacobspaj

podian es imperativo. El evento se pasaba de nuevo y de nuevo y de nuevo -- cada vez un tren ha pasado. pudieron es preterito. El evento se ha pasado y ha terminado. Solo una vez. Imperativo -- repetitive action Preterit -- occurs once and is finished

4
Reply13 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/elissaf1
elissaf1
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You're using the word "imperative" when you mean "imperfect". Stop that right now.

"Stop that right now" is an imperative. "You're using the word.." is imperfect tense.

I gave you a lingot so you'd forgive me for 'yelling at you" ;)

6
Reply2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Casiquire

Exactly. Pudieron talks about one specific instance versus talking about something in general.

3
Reply3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/chunkylefunga

You can sleep when you're dead

1
Reply22 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/24adithya
24adithya
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this section is going over my head. I tried to find the conjugation of poder to pudieron but wasn't there on SpanishDict.com. Can some one please help ? Thanks !

1
Reply2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/MogensBech1

Why not just 'They could not sleep '

1
Reply10 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ZhengWang7

Could I say 'They cannot sleep'? I was always told that 'could' and 'can' are interchangeable in English.

0
Reply2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/elissaf1
elissaf1
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Nope. But I want to give a complete answer. I think that first, "could" is sometimes the past tense of "can" and that's what's happening in this sentence. "They could not sleep" is in the past and cannot be altered. But "they cannot sleep" is happening right now, and you might be able to affect it (you can turn down the music, you can turn off the lights, you can give them sleeping pills, and eventually they might fall asleep).

"Could" is also used to show that something is possible in the future, but not certain, while "can" simply conveys possibility without . So I think there is an overlap for the conditional could:

You can light a fire to keep warm. (Conveys permission, or simply possibility) You could light a fire to keep warm (conveys possibility, but I expect some followup "but". But the beach police would tell us to put it out.)

You should google it. I think they're hardly interchangeable. ;)

3
Reply22 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Jeffrey855877
Jeffrey855877
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In using the preterite (simple past, I think) form rather than the imperfect or subjunctive, does the sentence mean something like "Last night the could not sleep, so they are very tired today", rather than a more present sense, like "they were not able to sleep, so they got up to have some hot milk and chat for a while"?

0
Reply1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/gggirls705

I know it can be both ways but i thought of "they couldnt sleep"

0
Reply1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/RobertKinzie

In active voice DL will only accept 'can' (but not 'able') for poder but in this section 'able' is accepted as a translation. IS that a DL quirk or is that how it goes in Spanish?

0
Reply1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Sondra439330

No sure if anyone mentioned 'logrado" unable to. Kind of threw me as an translation for puieron I was thinking in Spanish and automatically wrote 'They could not sleep' it was accepted righrly so. I think to myself can could ten would deb must.

0
Reply1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Max421833

I would have thought "They could not sleep" is a better translation. In normal day to day usage people usually opt for the shorter "could not" / "couldn't" rather than the long-winded "were not able to".

0
Reply8 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/gz7g6b

Can duolingo stick as closely to literal as possible. This confuses me with logrado

0
Reply7 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/joe814027

Or They couldn't sleep.

0
Reply6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Iris150201

I guess I am totally off by saying "They couldn't sleep"....right?

0
Reply6 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/kcatanza
kcatanza
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They weren't able to sleep isn't acceptable?

0
Reply5 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ron.seymour

I feel that both 'pudieron' and 'podían' should be accepted since, as Rickydito exemplifies admirably, there is no context to indicate either tense.

0
Reply1 month ago