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"Él pensaba que él era doctor."

Translation:He used to think that he was a doctor.

May 31, 2013

57 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/rebotica

.....before they took him away!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/danielinform

Is this also correct? "He used to think that he was the doctor."


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Mumblemee

I think it would have to say 'el doctor'.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/daniel87359

Él era el doctor.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Charley-Farley

Oh for crying out loud! I have just lost a heart for writing 'used to' and being told it should be 'use to' - so, against my better judgement, but so as not to lose another heart, I put 'use to' on this one and - guess what - lost a heart and had 'use' crossed out and replaced with 'used' - I despair!!!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/HolyT
  • 2299

The rule is not positive versus negative. It's simply a matter of where the conjugation of use appears in the syntax. In "I did not use to be . . . ," use is the infinitive form because it's preceded by the auxiliary verb did. In "I used to be . . . ," used is conjugated in its past tense form. It works just like any other verb in English. People are confused by this simply because "use to" and "used to" sound identical. They use their ears instead of analyzing why words fit together as they do. They're not educated in English grammar.

You wouldn't say "I didn't cried"; you'd say "I didn't cry."

You wouldn't say, "Did he ate?"; you'd say "Did he eat?"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/benmjt

You act like the english language is logical.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/martinlus

Brilliant explanation. I've been trying to wrap my head around the old 'use to' vs 'used to' now I get it!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/wazzie

I used to be a doctor.
I did not use to be a doctor.

Positive statements use used to.
Negative statements use use to.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Yerrick

Actually, it's whether the verb is preceded by a form of "did" or not. Negative statements usually use "did", but not always, and positive statements rarely do, but they may.

  • I used to go there.
  • Right, so you did use to take Spanish classes.
  • He didn't use to like chocolate.
  • I never used to bake in the morning.

http://www.5minuteenglish.com/mar20.htm http://www.learnenglish.de/grammar/usedtotext.html


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/aly.vidal11

Thank you,Yerrick.Good link! Saludos.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KyleFenorme

And good luck hearing the distinction in everyday speech. The phoentic difference between "use to" and "used to" is frequently lost in the fusion of the stops (d and t), and further complicated by the fact that either may be either dental or aveolar in various regional dialects of English.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/lphoenix

I have no trouble with the straightforward "used to" - where it gets into pure craziness here is with a negative for "used to" so stick to "used to" when no negative is involved and at least you'll get that part right -- I can't keep straight what DL has chosen on the various instances so far, but because they are using the vernacular for which there really are no rules, complete frustration is guaranteed. Have a heart. I just had the identical experience to yours in my previous sentence and it was all I could do not to get up and walk out of the house and go to a bar. Sheesh!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Charley-Farley

Have one for me, while you're at it!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/geneven

Used to is correct. I looked it up in Garner's American Usage, the best and most contemporary usage book.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/FrankFox0

Duolingo is like that; it is a problem for me, too.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Kitchendesigner

What is the reason why "He was thinking that he was a doctor" was not accepted?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ajl4j

Why isn't this 'que el fuera doctor'? Isn't there uncertainty which suggests the subjunctive should be used?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Melita2

aj, pensar in the affirmative takes the indicative, in the negative it takes the subjunctive.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/louisa_smith03

Why " . . era doctor" and not "era un doctor" or "era uno doctor"? it the "a" just implied?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/gmalcolm77

The indefinite article is omitted before an unmodified predicate noun denoting nationality, occupation, or rank. As in: " Es general ". But with an adjective modifier it is:. ' Es un buen general".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AshleyBlackwood

Could this also be a different él?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MissSpell

That's how i understood this sentence to be: one man's previous conception of another man. However, it works for both a different man or the same man, depending on the context.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AchyuthanS

I have another question. Does this sentence mean the same if the second el (accented) is removed?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MissSpell

AchyuthanS, yes, it has the same meaning if you eliminate the second él, but then the subject of the second clause opens up to even more possibilities since era is used for yo, él, ella, usted, and pretty much all singular nouns. (Before the medication, he used to think the dog was a doctor.) I suspect, without context, if the second pronoun isn't stated, that the first and second subjects are assumed to be the same. (That's a working theory which probably relies too much on English) However, without context, all 4 of those pronouns are correct possibilities.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AchyuthanS

Thanks MissSpell. These last 5 topics in Spanish are driving me crazy! :^)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/paul292659

'he was thinking that he was a doctor' seems to fit the tense and grammar requirements


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jubilada95

Why not "He thought that he used to be a doctor."?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Zoeaka

That's my question too. It failed me on "He was thinking that he used to be a doctor." and it says it should be "was" instead of "used to be". Not that the clues are always trustworthy, but it also gives "used to be" as the first suggestion for "era". Does anyone know if this is for a reason, or if it's just an alternative they haven't gotten around to accepting?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/rjhatch

I submitted the same translation as Zoeaka, and it was also marked wrong even though, to my knowledge, it's just as "correct".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sojournerbliss

Irene121212 yes the more appropriate translation of -used to- is solia pensar. Él pensaba could mean -he was thinking -he thought or -he used to think. Duo should be accepting all of those translations. In this unfortunately it is not accepting -he thought.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DreamsOfFluency

"He was thinking that he was a doctor." rejected 07-21-20 - Reported


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/neogerot

What is the context of this sentence.. He used to think himself as doctor or he used to think someone other than himself as doctor ?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sjoerd244

Perhaps the gentleman in question is suffering from dementia. He used to think he was a doctor. Now he thinks he used to be a lawyer and tomorrow he will think he used to be an astronaut.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Fluent2B

Hoy él cree que es Blackbeard el pirata.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JGarrick62

For once one of these non-sensical Duo sentences worked for me. A few years ago I did a community theatre comic farce where the patients took over the asylum. I played the real doctor while a patient who thought he was me was running around causing mayhem.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/axl.c

I guess it is more like he used to think someone else was a doctor, maybe because otherwise the pronoun 'él' would not be used twice. But it is only an assumption...


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Scottie92

what about subjunctive? i mean, he wasn't a doctor in reality. why not using subjunctive


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/gmalcolm77

I believe the subjunctive is used with 'pensar when in the negative as it then expresses uncertainty or doubt. As in " No pense que el fuera doctor".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Scottie92

Gracias, here's a lingot


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/keref

half of the time put the "a" article is required, half of the time it's forbidden, is there some rule? like "he has a depression" is wrong, but "he's doctor" is wrong as well?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ChinchetaDeAmor

I heard, "Él pensaba que leer a doctor". Which doesn't make sense. I can't ever imagine hearing the correct words at full speed. Is there a light at the end of the tunnel people?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/teesalsa8

Sí. Escucha al radio en español. Los anuncios repita y repita. ¡Entienda más con cada día pasando!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LeoAvk
  • 1341

Why not "he thought he was a physician" ?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/aly.vidal11

*Robert used to think that Tom was a doctor!!?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MaryMcC

How come when I translated doctor as doctor in another question it was marked wrong. It would only accept medico


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AngelaOddie

Believe has the same meanibg as think so should be allowed


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/irene121212

Could you also say "Solia pensar que era un medicó"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MaDhyan

This controversy over the verb 'to use' seems to be distracting everyone in translating the past tense verb from Spanish to English. Saying 'used to think', in this instance, is merely the only way to distinguish between the continuous action of thought as opposed to a single, momentary thought. The verb in question here, and the action being described by it, is 'to think', not 'to use'. I translated this sentence as 'He thought he was a doctor'. Which, in English, is correct, and distinguishable as either a continuous state of mind, or a momentary thought by context. We would rarely say 'He used to think that he was a doctor', as it would probably have been expressed as in the examples 'In the past, he thought he was a doctor', or, 'When he was suffering from delusions, he thought he was a doctor'. DL did not accept my translation as a correct one, which I understand, because we have to show that we understand the difference between the two forms of past tense in Spanish and when it is appropriate to use them. So, please, can we stop arguing over whether we should say 'use' or 'used', because, in my opinion, it's irrelevant. (As far as these exercises in past tense translation are concerned.)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/elpolloloco514

He thought that he was a doctor?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Oleg911891

He used to think that he's a doctor ? The short form of was should be accepted. Or?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/martinlus

"He's" is the contracted form of "he is" not "he was". I'm not aware of any shortened form of he was.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Oleg911891

What about: He's been there? We're there with my friend? It's (or was?) ambiguous, I'd agree with that. :)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/martinlus

Yes, "he's" can also mean he has when using the present perfect. But never he was.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Oleg911891

Not being a native English speaker, I have to agree. Nice to know.

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