"Il ghiaccio si rompe."

Translation:The ice breaks.

May 11, 2013



Am I going to have to remember to always use "si" in front of "rompe"? Is "Il ghiacco rompe" wrong, for some reason?

May 11, 2013


When something breaks it is reflexive. When I break something it is intransitive and not reflexive. "Il ghiaccio si rompe" <> Lui rompe il ghiaccio nella fontana.

May 11, 2013


That is the clearest explanation I've heard... You literally just cracked reflexivity's metaphorical nut for me! I always felt like the verbs were arbitrarily selected. I never thought of it in terms of transitivity. The subject is the obj!

October 8, 2014


xD Lui ha fatto la stessa cosa per me

February 26, 2015


"the ice breaks itself"

March 5, 2015


Wait, what is reflexive?

December 17, 2014


A reflexive verb is one where the subject is also the object: I kick myself.

Italian often uses a reflexive form where English would use passive. An example from today's newspaper: "Il Comitato direttivo centrale che si è tenuto oggi a Roma." "Che si è tenuto oggi" literally means "which held itself today," but in English we would say it was held today (or it took place today).

December 21, 2014


I understand what reflexive verbs are since I've already started learning Spanish. But I want to ask, linguistically, should we call this case a reflexive verb, passive sentence or both?

February 2, 2018


Langenth: No, a reflexive verb can't be passive since by definition it has an object. The ice breaks is an active sentence. It doesn't matter if that idea's expressed with a reflexive construction.

February 2, 2018


"Lui rompe il ghiaccio" is surely using rompere as a transitive rather than an intransitive verb as you state. Or am I missing something?

September 2, 2014


You're right: transitive. But of course the main point is it's not reflexive.

November 3, 2014


There's really no other quick way to describe it when river ice breaks up in the Spring. Nobody is break it up, it just breaks up on it's own, though it's the effect of a number of different outside factors.

July 16, 2016


but 'the ice breaks up" was not accepted Sept 17

September 8, 2017


Nah, you don't need a phrasal verb. "The ice breaks" is correct, preferable, and perfect. The ice breaks up....with...what? Its girlfriend, the icicle? Just...?

September 8, 2017


Well, Duo should accept "breaks up", because otherwise this sentence has very little relevance to the English language. "Breaking the ice" means to get people to interact less formally at a gathering. Otherwise, ice breaks up.

September 8, 2017



You're thinking in the non-reflexive, transitive form of the verb, while the exercise is clearly dealing with the reflexive verb.

Yes, "break up" in transitive form would require a direct object, such as a girlfriend (I didn't find you little joke funny, BTW. Everyone is a comedian, I guess. But don't give up your day-job.).

This, however, is si rompere not rompere. When ice breaks by itself, it breaks up, almost invariably. The ice in the river breaks up - not breaks.

And please note: I'm not saying that "break" by itself is wrong, I'm saying that "break up" should be an additional meaning, not a substitute meaning. You seem to be arguing that "break" should be the exclusive meaning, and "break up" is incorrect.

You're wrong.

September 10, 2017


Nope. Breaks is correct, perfect, accurate. I've said it before: it doesn't seem like a very efficient way of learning for us to have to provide the English translation rather than Italian one. But as long as that's what we're doing here, "The ice breaks" is correct. It's expressed as a reflexive in the exact Italian translation. No "up" needed in the English. Your fat ass fell on some ice, and the ice broke. Not broke the ❤❤❤❤ up. Ciao, stupido.

September 10, 2017


siebolt: slight correction - if I break something, 'break' is transitive, not intransitive.

July 28, 2015


That seems reasonable. Thanks!

November 15, 2013


we have the same thing in Spanish: "el hielo SE rompe. reflexive

January 8, 2014


I understand reflexive verbs, but I don't understand why the logic is not consistent: for example, you would think "ferire" would be reflexive (it is me who hurts,) but Duolingo says it isn't.

January 26, 2014


Verbs are either transitive or intransitive, meaning they either require an object or not. In your sentence, "when I break something.." something is the direct object and break is a transitive verb; when you say, "Something breaks/broke", the verb is intransitive because it does not require an object.

December 10, 2016


When I break something, it's transitive, not intransitive.

September 7, 2017


Libellule...If you're referencing Duo's sentence above it's intransitive. The ice breaks. There's no direct object; the ice isn't breaking anything; it's simply breaking, so intransitive.

September 7, 2017


It is wrong because in Il ghiacco rompe, rompe doesn't have an object. In other words, the ice isn't breaking something, the ice itself is breaking. If the ice broke the boat, for example (admittedly a poor one), the verb would no longer be reflexive and the reflexive pronoun si would not be required.

At least that's what I've figured out so far. I may be wrong. :)

November 15, 2013


Quando il ghiaccio si rompe in marzo, Il ghiaccio rompe il ponte.

July 16, 2016


I think you are right. The passive is used so much in other European languages.

July 16, 2016


Aha! So then, "Il ghiacco rompe il ponte"-- the ice breaks the bridge.
Not itself.

February 15, 2018


They didn't accept "The ice is breaking up", which seemed normal English to me.

December 9, 2013


Agree. And moreover it's one of the hover hints. I reported it.

November 3, 2014


Rompere is a quite a (maybe all too) common verb in my experience in Italy. Genuine grammar question follows related to reflexive - anyone (Italian probably best) care to give me the Italian for "he breaks my balls") {Hope this is allowed by mods - was thinking of blanking it but then I might get some blanked language advice back :) :( ] Something else is being broken but then being done to me.

May 9, 2014


with "rompere" you can build quite a lot of swearing. But I'm sure you already know them. Everyone who has been in Italy and with italians, even for a month only, should already know them. Anyway, if you want to have fun, look for these strings with google:

  • "non mi rompere le"
  • "non mi rompere il"
  • "non mi rompere i"
  • "ti rompo il"
May 10, 2014


Thanks! :)

May 10, 2014


Perhaps it's grammatically transitive, but logically cannot be. How can an inanimate non sensate object break itself?

July 2, 2015


I agree and would add that reflexives in some languages, like German as I see you know or are studying, can be substitutes for or alternatives to the passive voice.

August 15, 2015


Because language is based on people's observations and experience of the world, rather than (necessarily) on how things actually are? ;-)

May 13, 2017


My translation "the ice breaks itself" was correct but doesn't make any sense to me :)

August 15, 2015


Nor to me. Reflexives don't always translate from one language into another exactly as such. My suggestion is if a reflexive translation doesn't make sense or sounds unnatural then leave the reflexive pronoun out. Ex.Mi sono svegliato = I woke up. To say "I woke myself up", while possible in some scenario, isn't what the construction means which is simply "I woke up." Waking usually isn't something conscious or intentional, it just happens.

August 15, 2015


Thanks! I did some searching on reflexive verbs and found some useful info online, I don't think it is covered in DL very well. For others struggeling: this site made me understand it better, and also explains how the reflexive pronouns (mi, ti, si, ci, vi) are derived: http://www.lifeinitaly.com/italian/reflexive-verbs

August 15, 2015



August 15, 2015


Could this ever be figurative, as it is in English? The ice is breaking i.e. people are beginning to talk, relax, etc.

November 3, 2015


In the non-reflexive form, yes. Rompere il ghiaccio - to break the ice - to initiate conversation in order to avoid social awkwardness. Take a look :) - http://dizionari.corriere.it/dizionario-modi-di-dire/G/ghiaccio.shtml#6

January 11, 2016


rompe/rumpe means ass in norwegian...

December 3, 2016


adrian..."rump" in English. Don't look up 'dirt(y)"!

December 3, 2016


Also, would "The ice breaks apart" be correct? It got marked wrong, but perhaps it is just a variant that Duolingo hasn't gotten around to putting in as correct?

November 8, 2013


Isn't "the ice gets broken" correct?

August 11, 2014


"The ice gets broken" often implies in English that an action is being done to it by an outside force. The SI in front of the verb lets you know that this action is being done by itself to itself.

January 20, 2015


So have do you say She is a pain in the neck? That was one translation of rompere.

July 10, 2016


As someone else mentioned, the use of the reflexive suggested to me the breaking up of river ice in the spring, so I translated the sentence as "The ice breaks up", which is how we would say that it our part of the world. It was marked incorrect however. Should it be accepted?

December 6, 2016


that is a real ice breaker

February 16, 2017


Duo wouldn't accept "The ice cracks" for some reason, even though my dictionary gives "to crack" as one of the possible translations of «rompere». I've reported it.

May 12, 2017


Hi, your translations suggested give 'break off'. As there is no context to determine 'break' or 'break off', could you not accept "The iced breaks off"?

October 29, 2017


Would the literal translation in English be 'the ice itself breaks' Does 'si' mean itself/himself/herself?

May 24, 2018


I guess you can say it "broke the ice." ;D

May 9, 2016
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