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  5. "Mia madre fa la segretaria."

"Mia madre fa la segretaria."

Translation:My mother is a secretary.

May 14, 2013



i thought un and una were "a" and that "la" was the feminine definite article (the). It appears to be on occasion.

My translation was my mother is the secretary. Interested to understand why this is incorrect.


Looks like it has to do with the combination of the verb fare + (def. art.) + (job), which translates out as "works as a (job)". So, while "la" is usually the def. art., "io faccio il capitano" would be "I work as a captain" or "I am a captain".

On the other hand "io sono il capitano" would be "I am THE captain", and "lei è la dottoressa" would be "she is THE doctor".

It's specifically the usage of the verb "fare" that kicks translation to English into the indef. art.

Make sense?


Thanks, are there verbs other than fare where this is the case?


So how would you translate "I work as the captain? Would it not be "Io faccio il capitano?


Its not fare because fare is for indefinite articles, despite using a definite. You would say, "io sono il capitano"


I think you can use either


That sounds plausible to me - so thanks.


I heard in a previous post that: fare+il+job means "works as a (job)" If that is the case "my mother works as a secretary" should be accepted.


Works now, thanks!


No problem glad to help :D


Why wouldn't it be "works as 'the' (job)"


I think the Italian can be translated as that, although not sure. Sounds a bit strange in English; you'd only say 'my mother works as the secretary' if you were talking about a specific company, you know like 'I work as a manager in this company, my mother is the secretary'. But if you were just talking generally, you'd say 'my mother works as a secretary'.


The sentence "Mia madre fa la segretaria." doesn't indicate whether it is speaking generally or specifically. It's not as though every sentence in duolingo speaks in a general sense. I still don't see how translating the article as definite (instead of indefinite) would get marked as wrong..


True, I don't know really, I'm only speaking from what I guess.


"Fare" is a verb with several senses. One that may be useful to know is "to act (like/as) something." It suggests that the object (the "something") is a role that is played, and it is used exactly this way in the theater ("He plays/acts as the King = Lui fa le re").

English also has a similar non-theatrical construction: "To play the fool" (to act like a fool) = Italian "fare il stupido." Italian generalizes this sense to mean "work as" or "is," but the job is still considered a "role" to be acted: "Mia madre fa la segretaria" or "lui fa il medico" (He is/works as a doctor)

EDIT: In my first version, I pulled up the French pronoun "il" instad of the Italian "lui." Didn't look right, but it took me a while to see what was wrong. Sorry. I don't want to add to anyone's confusion.


Still don't understand why 'a' and not 'the' when it's clearly a 'la' and not an 'un'.


because 'fare + definite article' is a set construction in Italian that translates to 'to be + indefinite article' in English. I think...


If you think about the Italian as saying "My mother does the secretarying", which is not a proper English sentence, then we would reconstruct that idea into good English as "My mother is a secretary"

It is important to remember that no two languages can be directly translated word for word beyond very simple constructions. I tend to approach translation as (at least) two stage:

  1. Understand the individual words
  2. Understand the intent in the first language.

Doing this results in a grammatical terrible sentence in the second language at Stage one. One then looks again at the first language to look for intention, nuances etc. and then rearranges/substitutes the words in the second language to convey the original thought - or to paint the original word picture.

When you translate from English to Italian, you can end up with similarly "terrible" sentences that no native speaker would use if you just translate word for word.


will mia madre e una segretaria be correct?


I believe so, but you need an accent on the 'e' -- è. Otherwise it means 'and'.


I typed "segreteria" which has a typo of the letter E instead of A. Is segreteria a valid word wiyh a different meaning, or did I lose a heart over a typo/spelling error? Are typos differentiated from spelling errors? I can see how they might be.


Hi! They have different meanings: "segreteria" is the place where the "segretaria" works


The "la" means "the",so how is it not right? Ahhh,I'm losing hearts over very stupid mistakes. One thing I can say is I'm not going to give up.


Wow. I think we all run into the same mistake. La is "the", una is "a". This translation doesn't make any sense whatsoever. Perhaps colloquially, but not logically or structurally. The error is in the language itself. Well, every language has crazy rules I guess. I know both Spanish and English do.


Sentences like this are why I am considering abandoning this course. What is the purpose of the article here and why include a sentence like this which only serves to confuse and frustrate the learner?


It is an artifact of the language...English (substitue your own language here) has its own idiosyncratic constructions that we accept because it is our mother tongue. This is the way Italian has evolved - it uses a construction closer to "My mother does the secretarying" to convey the idea of someone doing a job/holding a post.

Learning these different ways of expressing a concept is one of the joys of learning languages - it is mind expanding.


My mother does the secretary? Is there something I should know?


Would it be ha la segretaria? ha una segretaria? something else?


Ha una segretaria


My question is very simple: is "le donne fonno le segretarie" also correct, or must it be "Le donne sono della segretarie"? Is that locution confined to the singular?


I'd like to ask this, too. Still, it would be "Le donne fanno le segretarie." and "Le donne sono delle segretarie." Can anybody also say if we can (or must?) drop the article in the latter?


You haven't dropped the article in the second.

Delle = de le; it is an elision


Can you say both "fa la segretaria" and "fa una segretaria"?


Not with this sense. It's "fa la" or "è una." Of course, "è la" is possible, if there's only one you're talking about.


fa+definite article (here: la) will translate as "works as a (job)". However una is an indefinite article so it will translate as "works a (job)" which is incorrect English


How can 'la' be translated as 'a'? It should have been mentioned ' un' so that translated form was ' a'.


sounded like sigregaria to me both fast and slow


Madre Secretary ;)


The is a problem for me with the translation of someone "fa + the job" to someone "is a" and his profession.

DL translation "My mother is a secretary." kann be retranslated in " Mia madre è una segretaria." - without using "fa"

And cannot the sentence "My mother works as a secretary."[ Mia madre lavora come segretaria.] - even without "fa" - be translated to "Mia madre fa la segretaria." ?

It seems possible. But thanks for a correction.


Why isnt it 'la mia' at the beginnig of the sentnce


For most other words it would be, but if you are talking about family members, my father, my brother etc., you are allowed to drop the article, the 'la' or 'il'. Just because.


Surely this should be una not la?


Literally, yes, colloquially, no. What I mean is, this is a colloquial set phrase, so the rules of grammar have become twisted somewhat. Usually you'd be right, 'una' means 'a', but in this specific case 'a' can be translated as 'la'. Just go with it.

Also, there have been so very many identical questions on this thread already, have a look through them (on the computer, don't think you can on phone).


What's the difference between segreteria and segretaria?!


someone answered this above: They have different meanings: "segreteria" is the place where the "segretaria" works


why is la used as an indefinite article here?


It says la not una thus its the not a


It says la meening the, but says it's a


Fa "la" segretaria, she is "the" secretary.

[deactivated user]

    This question has "type what you hear" but expects me to translate what I heard!


    why 'fa la ' and not - is a


    Anyone know how you would say "my mother HAS a secretary"?


    why "a" secretary and not " the" secretary ( la segretaria }


    Why doe duo allow misspellings of words? I wrote secretaria and it marked it correct.


    I wrote my mom and it was wrong.


    Incorrect italian

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