1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Spanish
  4. >
  5. "Al abrir una ventana se ve e…

"Al abrir una ventana se ve el exterior."

Translation:Upon opening a window one can see the exterior.

May 22, 2013



Maybe I am missing something obvious, but how do you know it is you CAN see the exterior, and not just you SEE the exterior?


This has to do with the use of "se" in "se ve" In this case, it is not reflexive but rather is the idiomatic expression for "one can..."


it is neither reflexive nor an idiomatic expression, but impersonal use of the verb, which in english does not exist, so: you can see...we can see...one can see...it can be seen...


"one can see" is an impersonal use of the verb "to see." "You can see" can also be used impersonally (when you're speaking in general). Every example you wrote is in fact impersonal. It's just used in a different way sometimes in Spanish (with "se"), although this could be expressed with the equivalent "puedes ver/you can see" with an impersonal generalizing meaning.


upon opening a window one can look outside
rejected, reported


It should not have been rejected. Look outside is a correct translation that a native English speaker makes....to look outside is the same as to see outside


I do not agree. There is a difference between 'to look outside' and 'to see the outside'. 'To see' is rather passive, the Spanish word is 'ver', 'to look' or 'to watch' is more active and translated by 'mirar'. I think that sometimes Duo is not consistent and accepts 'look' for 'ver'. It could be that in Spanish the differences are in a bit other way. A native Spanish speaker might explain.


No. It's idiomatic (as in, "can" is implied). Your examples (one can see, it can be seen) are translated to "se puede ver". It is idiomatic in the sense that the context strongly implies "poder"


The same comment I made previously. This should translate either, "one sees the outside" or "the outside is seen". If "can see" is the desired meaning, it should be "se puede ver". Also, sp exterior=eng outside, i.e. when we open windows we see the outside, not the exterior. I usually report difficulties when I leave comments but don't remember whether I did so here. They really need to fix this one.


It's correct. We have to remember that the idea is to translate the meaning instead of word by word. Al abrir una ventana (upon opening a window) se ve el exterior..... this means.... the outside is seen... or "the outside can be seen." That "can" in English is literally "poder" if you wanted to pick one word, but "the outside can be seen" is an impersonal sentence... the same as "se ve el exterior." The outside is seen... or ...the outside can be seen.... in general terms. Se puede ver would probably be more specific as far as "can" goes, but from Spanish to English it represents the exact same thing. Exterior = Outside = Exterior. I don't think they'll change this one too much.


The idea is to translate the meaning instead of word by word? We must not be using the same app. The "one sees the outside" is accepted at the moment (19 July 2014).


sometimes they are more literal than they should be, but this isn't an example.


no, in english you often use can with verbs of perception: I can see you, I can't hear you...while in spanish, like in italian you don't need that, you can just say : te veo, no te escucho....as well as puedo verte, no puedo oirte...!


It is not mistake. Therefore it should not be reported. (One should NOT report it.)

I believe, however, this is the first I have seen the "impersonal se" in DUO.

And, yes, one does use "se" in the passive voice. But here the better translations is as the impersonal "se." The passive voice implies that someone specific is seeing, the "one" means that "any person" can see.

A quote from this: "It is not common to refer to people using the passive se." https://www.thoughtco.com/introducing-se-spanish-3079357

For those who want to know more, see these:


Thank you! Its still like this, and has confused me to no end. I've reported it twice now. Hopefully it'll get changed.


Thank you wmunnell - Ill report it. Here's a lingot!


me, te, le/les, se, se being for usted, so i wouldn't say the informal you can, tu/te , i'd say one can, ud/se


Isn't the whole point of windows that you can use them to see outside without having to open them? That's why they're transparent, isn't it? Otherwise they'd just be small doors.


That, sir, is a most excellent and amusing point. Have a lingot.


window may be more like shutters (with an angled slat) in this case which let the light and/or air in but prevent one from seeing in or out, so they would have to be opened to view the outside. This type of window is not uncommon in Central and South American construction. And yes, they are like small doors


The windows of our casa in Murcia, España have, looking from the outside in, 1) Rejas de hiero, 2) persiana de enrollar, 3) mosquito netting, 4) opening glass windows, 5) wooden shutters. Very practical for regulating the heat and light and preventing entry of unwanted pests!


Oh no, you’re thinking of persianas.


Often in Spain, particularly in more rural parts, where it gets very hot, the windows are wooden shutters that can be closed to keep the sun out and the room cool. Especially welcome if you're trying to have a siesta! They are exactly like small doors.


FYI, spanishdict.com gave "when you open a window" as the translation for "al abrir una ventana" which is a more colloquial way of saying "upon opening a window". Needless to say, Duolingo did not accept it.


I suppose it should be reported because it sounds indeed like the best translation. To me, at least ;-)


I want to know about the 'al' so this means 'upon' in this sense?


al + verb is usually how one says upon etc al comer al dormir al llegar a casa al cantar upon + ing


Meaning is not always one to one. There's a difference between a translation and literal word-for-word translation. Also see: http://spanish.about.com/od/sentencestructure/qt/al_infinitive.htm


I started out by translating it loosely one-to-one:

"One can see the outside at the opening of a window."

... which is awkward in English but legitimate. From there I was lucky and inferred that "at the opening" was probably "upon opening".

I'm not sure if this guesswork will work in other situations, but it did here.


I tried something similar but failed. This sentence is an example of what I find so frustrating in trying to learn a language. I never know how to approach something like this. I started by analyzing the sentence literally: "to the, to open a window...." and from there it seems to be a guessing game. Then I try to think...what will make sense? So I put, "When you open a window..." and as is often the case, I guessed wrong. I so wish there was a strategy for how to proceed when you have to deviate from a literal translation.


Um pretty sure "outside" should count for exterior here.


the difference is: you can see outside=se ve afuera; you can see the exterior=se ve el exterior, just a slight difference indeed


At least in CR afuera=outside, exterior is usually exterior of a building versus interior. Tinta para exterior/interior =paint used for outside/inside, to see or go outside is ver o ir afuera, I never hear voy al exterior s/b voy afuera.


Upon and on are both acceptable English here - ie, "On opening a window..." and "Upon opening a window..."


Agreed, I'm reporting it.


By should also be accepted. "By opening a window..."


That is what I also used and it is rejected. I reported this


Please tell me why "al" deviated from its conventional definition.


"Al" followed by an infinitive is usually the equivalent of "upon" followed by the gerund in English. Here's a good example showing both ways of using "al":

Al llegar al hotel... Upon arriving at the hotel...


I don't think we've come across this in the lessons at this point in the "skill tree". Good to know!


I don't think you ever will "come across" it in the lessons, which is why these discussions are so valuable. :)


The word "upon" here can also be replaced with "on", ¡especially if you are a programmer!


Agreed - 'on' should be accepted


Is there any major difference between "Al abrir una ventana se ve el exterior" and "Cuando se abre una ventana se ve el exterior"?


If the question was to translate "Cuando se abre una ventana se ve el exterior" then I probably would have gotten it right.


I don't have the energy to read all 86 comments, but I need to add that this is an incredibly awkward sentence that I can't ever imagine seeing in English. First of all, see the exterior of what? English speakers rarely, if ever use "exterior" as a noun unless in a very archaic usage, as in he is Secretary of the Exterior. "Upon opening" is also awkward. As is "one can see". I assume this sentence is more normal in Spanish, but please, Duo, don't put so many "strange in English" constructions in one sentence; or allow us to translate less literally. If I were to try to express this thought in English, I would say, "If you open the window, you can see outside." But then the sentence becomes ridiculous, because that is what windows are for.


Glad to see I'm not the only one frustrated with this sentence. I said "By opening a window. . ." More or less the same as "upon", right?


I thought so too, adpace.


I said the same. "Upon" was a new one for me, then again "By opening" was also a guess on my part.


I had 'upon opening a window, the exterior is visible'. Why is that wrong?


Is "when opening" a valid translation of "al abrir"?


I prefer my translation which is a much more natural way to say this: "If you open a window you can see the outside". I can't think of any situation when you would say it the way it has been translated by Duo. Also, surely, if we're going to be pedantic about it, 'one can see' should be 'se puede ver', verdad? So, they should perhaps have said "On opening a window one sees the exterior", although I would never say it like that!


why is ver reflexive here (se ve)? is the outside seeing itself?


That's called an "impersonal se," it's not a reflexive se. It simply means that the exterior can be seen without specifying who is doing the seeing. Ver is conjugated to the third party singular in such a case.


Passive voice sentences are like music in a minor key.


I don't understand your simile.


I think "se ve" mean "one can see". Like " como se dice", "how does one say"


Thanks, that may help me remember this new thing ...


Or, 'se ve' = 'you can see'; 'como se dice' = 'how do you say', in everyday speech.


why is "look" wrong?


Look = mirar

See = ver


Opening a window lets one see outside. How on earth is this wrong?


It's probably worth pointing out that there is a very big difference between "On opening a window, one can see outside" and "On opening a window, one can see the outside"." For the latter, I claim one must not just open the window but actually climb out, walk a bit away, turn around, and look back.


Or stick your head out of the aperture to look at the outside of the wall to your left/right/below/above to check the brickwork for damage or see if the pointing needs remedial action/ check lead flashing for leaks etc., etc..


why on earth can't i say just "opening" instead of "upon opening" ?


I think it can be very ambiguous: Al abrir una ventana, se ve el exterior. Not the same than: Al abrir, una ventana se ve el exterior. Is "al abrir" (allusion to something we talked about in a previous sentence) is correct?


no, no previous sentence at all, just "when you open the window", that is: that very moment.


So "al abrir", (coma) is wrong? Thanks, it was the way I undestood it.


"At opening a window..." should work. Not common but legit, IMO


If your windows were as dirty as mine, you would have to open them to see outside.


bot needs to say V better


The idea of a window is that it's transparent and therefore doesn't need to be opened to see outside. If it wasn't, wouldn't it be a door? ;-)


We had this conversation below. Privacy windows such as frosted windows used in a restroom and stained glass windows (although stained glass usually lacks the function for opening) are both types of windows you would have to open to see out of.


Wouldn't a person be able to see the exterior without opening the window? A window is generally see-through isn't it? Lol. Strange sentence again from duo.


This has been addressed a few times already if you read all of the comments. An additional example to the one tropicalnut mentioned is frosted/privacy windows in bathrooms. You would typically have to open a bathroom window to see outside.


Not always and when the language evolved shutters on a glassless window might of been quite common. I stayed in a really nice B&B and our street window was just that no glass with a shutter. I might also refer to pulling the curtains back.


What's wrong with look outside?


Una pregunta para nativos en inglés - ¿No se podría decir "When opening a window one can see the exterior"? Gracias de ante mano...


Is this out of some poet's work -- they tend to be 'untranslatable'...


THere should be a difference between 1 and I


What is wrong with "at the opening of a window..." similar to upon


What's wrong with, "After opening a window she can see the exterior"?


Upon opening the window when can see the outside should be accepted


Not a good English translation. 'Upon opening', same as 'by opening' see the exterior? Do you not mean 'see outside'


i have a feeling that this is about a 100th time i had to translate this sentence


"Se ve" is a so-called impersonal "se" form that can be translated as "one sees" (or in this case, "one can see"). It could also be translated "you see". This article may help explain how it works:



What it means is the darn windows are very dirty.


why do you have to open the window - is it so dirty that you can't look through


I think this is the most beautiful sentence on Duolingo. Just wanted to post that.


Why isn't 'by' accepted here? "By opening the window one can see the exterior"


What the hell kind of sentence is this anyway?? I mean, I'm sure there is a lesson hidden in this, but what is the point in translating to nonsense? I put this sentence in translators and it always comes out differently. And that's beyond exterior, which means abroad elsewhere in this lesson - is that like Palin seeing Russia from her window?


Ha ha! As a Brit on first read of your post, I thought you had Michael Palin's sex wrong; then I realized that you are probably American and are referring to the Alaskan politician! ;-)}


On opening the window one sees the exterior/outside


I have never ever seen "Al" before. Upon?


Al + infinitive is a common construction in Spanish.


This sentence made me so mad! I put "when opening a window she can see the exterior". I knew this couldn't be translated literally, and since I am not familiar with the phrases that have their own translations, I felt my answer made sense as a viable English option. Sigh!!


I said: "When a window is opened you see the outside." WRONG! Duo, are you testing my English or my understanding of Spanish?


Substituting ‘se’ for ‘’puede’ is really confusing. Substituting ‘al’ for ‘cuando’ is also very confusing.


Has someone said how a Spanish speaker would say "On opening the window one can see outside"? I agree that is different from saying "On opening the window once can see the outside." I also agree that an English speaker might say "Upon opening the window one can see the exterior" but ONLY if it was understood what or whose exterior was being seen. But "the exterior" in the abstract, never.


Clumsy as the sentence is, my biggest beef is that I got only one word wrong which was to use 'you' can see outside when 'one' was required. As a native Brit, the reality is that you (one) can absolutely use the two intercangeably. In fact 'one' is rarely used except by the aristocracy ! I would be interested if 'one' would agree ?


One can see not accepted today


I modestly still prefer my 'open a window to see outside' to convey the idea behind 'Upon opening a window one can see the exterior' which in my view seems like Spanish translated into English using a dictionary.


No! It sounds like poetry!


cuando usted abrir la ventana puedes ve el exterior

Learn Spanish in just 5 minutes a day. For free.