Translation:He followed his dad in everything that he was doing.
"Seguiva il papà in tutto quello che faceva" means that someone was following his or her dad in everything he was doing. I agree with you in that "his dad" seems an erroneous translation (emphasis on "seems").
While "He followed dad" may be better in terms of losing the possessive, it still fails to be faithful to the original spirit of the sentence. It's difficult for me to explain it because I don't believe that there is a direct English counterpart to that sentence. "Seguiva il papà" specifically means that he or she was following his or her dad ("He followed dad" would translate instead without the article, "Seguiva papà", which could be seen as a sibiling saying "He followed my/our father").
Consider "his" not as the translation for "suo" but as the translation for a possessive which is implied by "il" (which to me relates to both the object and the subject in this case) but which does not exist within the sentence.
Literally it would be "He followed the dad in everything he did", but in English "the" sounds a lot more impersonal than it does in this particular case (and only this particular case, mind you) in Italian, so it can't be translated as that.
I feel like I am butchering this explaination, I hope someone with a better understanding of the Italian language can come to help me.
When I read "il papà" I in fact assumed it was the dad of both the speaker and the subject of the sentence, i.e. "our dad". Therefore I translated "He followed dad" because this sounds very natural to me in English. Is it still wrong in that case? Would you not use "il papà" to say both "he followed his dad" and "he followed [our] dad"?
Cantchooseaname.....I think your problem is (quite rightly) trying to translate 'seguiva' as ...was following or followed or even used to follow....all of these are translations but there is one more that would make sense in this sentence. The past imperfect can also be used to express the conditional tense...providing it was a continuous action in the past.
Seguiva = He would follow.....which changes the sentence to ' He would follow his dad in everything that he (was doing) ( used to do ).
I think that "suo papa" is not specified… as it is taken as a given here. It would seem highly unlikely that "he" (meaning the Subj. of this sentence) would follow just any dad… it almost sounds as though the subject of the sentences idolizes this father - which one is more likely to do with your own dad than with any other. I am not certain though… its just my twopence
You have to speak to be able to speak. Of course there will be many mistakes. Just allow it. Make some notes. It will give you time and oportunity to think through and therefore to make less mistakes. When you start learning something (golf, dance etc) you do EVERYTHING wrong and then within time and practice you go over it. Don't lose courage. Good luck!
I am adding to what TomBushaw wrote.
It is very common in Italian to use il or la and omit suo and sua in sentences like this. The words his and her are implied. Here are some examples: Lei ha lasciato il marito (She left her husband, not she left the husband); Lui ha lasciato la moglie (He left his wife, not he left the wife).
There are other instances where his and her are implied. For example, Lui l'ha messo in tasca translates as he put it in his pocket. If he had put it in someone else's pocket, then that person would be specified. For example, if he had put it in his girl friend's pocket, the sentence would be Lui l'ha messo nella tasca della fidenzata. Note that della fidenzata is translated as of his girlfriend, not of the girlfriend.
No definitive answer, but I think I've seen in Italian that the definite pronoun (il, la, etc.) is used frequently in this situation rather than the possessive pronoun (suo, sua, etc.) -- which is more commonly used in this situation in English -- particularly when it's obvious (or assumed to be obvious) who possesses whom or what.