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"Chi avrà preso il mio dentifricio?"

Translation:Who can have taken my toothpaste?

September 19, 2014



Does anyone agree that it's mistaken to mark this translation "who could have taken my toothpaste" as incorrect?" as wrong? I can barely imagine a situation in English where you might say "who will have taken my toothpaste?" unless it's people brainstorming a play or something.


DL folks were trying to cover the various ways one would use the Future Perfect, one being a conjecture, but the more appropriate way to do that IMHO would be to use "might":

Who might have taken my toothpaste?


Well "who must have taken my toothpaste" was marked wrong, which seems pretty interchangeable. I did see "who can have taken..." as the suggested solution, though, so the original complaint must have been fixed.


I used 'must have' as well. Should be right as far as I can tell.


I thought the same thing and it was marked wrong.


I wrote "Who MIGHT have taken...." (essentially the same thing as "who can have taken..."); also marked wrong! Seriously DL?! .... Also, when I tried to report it, I noticed that the selection to say "My answer should be accepted" is no longer available. Who MIGHT have taken that?!


Marked wrong june 18


Duo offered an alternate for my Will Have - "Who can have". Seems like Duo is waking up to some translation concerns!


My guess is that this is not new.

"Could" is conditional, so it would be "Chi potrebbe avere preso," to get that exact meaning (which just looks strange). It's definitely a more common phrasing in English to use "could" in this kind of sentence, but the actual meaning here is "can".


Exactly. "Can have taken" and "will have taken" are different, and I thought this exercise is about "will have been" not "could have been".


The question is, which English sentence best conveys what is conveyed by the Italian sentence given, which uses the future perfect to express a (possibly rhetorical) question about what might have happened.

And the answer is, depending on taste, either "Who can have taken my toothpaste?" or "Who could have taken my toothpaste?". In interrogative contexts English does not really use the future perfect for this, though it sometimes does in declarative ones (eg "Albert will have taken my toothpaste - he was complaining he had none earlier")


(Replying to TheFinkle) In this context "who can have...?" does at all not mean "who will have had the ability...?" It means "Who might it have been?" It's not a question of ability, but rather of likelihood. (Cf eg "what can have happened?")

Anyway, to answer your question: the literal sense of "who will have taken my toothpaste?" is conveyed in Italian by the very same sentence. For this reason "Who will have taken..." is a possible valid translation, but it would be very unusual(++). The sense "Who can have taken..?" would be much more often encountered.

(++) A possible example of a context in which the literal translation would be appropriate. It is very contrived and unlikely, but that of course is the point:

A. "You see the toothpaste on your washbasin? Tomorrow at this time it will be gone"

B. "Really? Who will have taken it?"


If this sentence translates as "who can have" (i.e. "who will have had the ability to take my toothpaste?"), then how would you say simply "who will have taken my toothpaste?" in Italian?


Thanks very much for this: I'd been struggling a bit with it and the "Albert" example really does help.


So Duolingo has started accepting incorrect answers? That's interesting.


No. The future perfect tense in Italian can mean "will have," "must have," or "can have" in English. It's not the conditional tense, but it can imply a level of uncertainty about events.


"Who can have taken my toothpaste" is just awkward English. I translated it that way, but I would not construct a sentence this way.


I agree, but it's important for people learning Italian to not confuse this tense with the conditional perfect. They're totally different.


Actually I respectfully disagree that it is awkward. It was the first thing that occurred to me as a translation, and it is the kind of thing I (a native English speaker brought up in South East England) would say spontaneously in the appropriate circumstances.

One thing that might be emphasized (for the benefit of non-native English speakers) is that English expresses this conjectural use of the Italian Future Perfect differently depending on the grammatical mood of the sentence - specifically whether it is indicative or interrogative.

For indicative sentences, English generally uses "must have + PAST PARTICIPLE", while for the interrogative sentences, it uses "can have + PAST PARTICIPLE".

Thus: he must have taken my toothpaste (or, less frequently, he will have taken my toothpaste) but (as a question) who can have taken my toothpaste?


I don't. "Could" is about capability (also in the past), while the exercise is in the category "Future Perfect".

[deactivated user]

    Agree with you totally.


    The tips explain that the Futuro Prossimo is often used in cases of conjecture, and so 'can', 'could' and 'might' are good translations. I used 'might' and it was marked wrong!! There are a lot of complaints about this! DL, please correct it.


    I also think this is hard, I guess partly because I seldom use these tenses in English and I have to think quite for a while to come up with a situation when they might be used.

    Anyhow "avrà preso" translates to "he/she/it will have taken", - and that is about an action in the future

    But "could have taken" is about an action in the past, - so it is not a good translation.

    I think a much better translation is "Who might have taken my toothpaste."


    But "Who might have taken my toothpaste?" is about the past no less than "Who could have taken my toothpaste?" is. It is certainly not about the future.

    (That doesn't mean that "Who might..." is a bad translation though. I agree it is a very good one. It just means that the fact that the Italian tense is future perfect has no bearing on the tense which should be used in the English translation, which can perfectly well be a past one)


    You are right, have some lingots! Is there even a way to say this in this tempus English?

    Who will be able to have taken . . .
    Who may be able to have taken . . .


    There is surely no need to try to get any "future" meaning into the English translation. There is none in the Italian in this context, despite the tense.

    For note that this use of the future perfect to conjecture about what might have happened in the past exists in English too. For example in "On your way here you will certainly have noticed that the road is being dug up outside", "you will have noticed" is the future perfect tense. In English this sounds entirely natural, and "you must have noticed" is just another way of saying the same thing. Both expressions refer to the past, even though the former uses the future perfect tense and the latter a past form.

    (It is interesting that while English often uses the "must have" in declarative sentences as an equivalent to "will have", in interrogative ones it instead uses "can have?", "could have?" or "might have?" (which of these is preferred being largely a matter of taste))

    Despite the tense, no-one is under any misapprehension that "you will have noticed" is here referring to the future, and similarly wherever we have the equivalent Italian "ti sarai accorto" the context will make it obvious whether this is conveying a genuinely future perfect meaning (eg "By this time next year you will have noticed that...") or else a conjectural past (as in the previous example).


    zimtladen - Thanks for all your very clear input! I will try spraying some lingots over them!

    I understand this can be, and most likely is, meant to reflect some guesswork. I was just thinking about if I even could come up with a reasonable sentence in this tense in English (neither English nor Italian is my mother tongue).

    Thank you again!


    This tense uses some very odd sentences when translated to English. Who speaks like that??


    It seems weird, I believe, because we're only getting half of the sentence. In English the future imperfect (also called the future anterior or future past) is used to describe an action that will take place in the future but before another action that will also take place in the future. To wit:

    By the time she graduates, she will have studied calculus

    When you finish the marathon, you will have run 26 miles.

    Before this cruise ends, I will have gained five pounds.

    A lot of Duo's sentences in this lesson would make sense with more context. (But then, that can be said about a lot of Duo's lessons)


    You may well be right in general, but in the present case the sentence is not actually expressing the literal future perfect, but rather the so-called conjectural future perfect, so does not require any other reference to a future action or event to make sense. (Obviously it does require some context, so that it is an appropriate thing to say, but that is no different from any other sentence!) See my reply to Markos623301 above.


    DL programmers. Don't get me wrong I LOVE this website, but based on all the challenging feedback maybe it's time to retire this exercise.


    I'm pretty sure they can't eliminate a whole verb tense just because people are having trouble with it.


    I suppose you're right. I'd still like to know how frequently this tense is used by native Italian speakers.


    The reason people are having trouble with this skill is not because it's difficult, but because the English translations are mostly gibberish nonsense that nobody would ever say. This whole skill needs to be redone (not eliminated) with proper English sentences that people would actually say.


    "Who can have taken my toothbrush?" is perfectly good English which I can imagine any native speaker of my acquaintance saying if they unexpectedly found their toothbrush was missing. I am rather baffled why anyone might think it isn't.


    I think the reason "can have" sounds strange is because there's no answer. You can't say John can have...but you can certainly answer Who could have or might have with John could/might have.


    (This is a reply to lucy163354's response to mine; for some reason Duolingo is not giving an option to click on REPLY to her post)

    That's an interesting point.  But is it really not possible to say "John can have taken it"?  

    FWIW I have found evidence that "can have been" might be an older usage which is now falling out of use in favour of "could have been".  Here is an English grammar from 1844: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=P2OuMqyOeSgC&pg=PA91&lpg=PA91&dq=%22can+have+been%22&source=bl&ots=lksUEQbuSi&sig=ACfU3U2fDILXMtiFJoM2_am8lQAkRXY71Q&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwi78YD4gI7mAhW1SBUIHSsRBTgQ6AEwD3oECA0QAQ#v=onepage&q=%22can%20have%20been%22&f=false

    As a sanity check, does eg "What can have happened?" sound as wrong and/or awkward to you as does "Who can have taken it?"


    Maybe I'm wrong, but I think that "Who COULD have taken my toothpaste?" (instead of "Who can have taken my toothpaste?") somehow sounds more acceptable... :))) What do other people think?


    It sounds more natural, but the Italian sentence would have to use the conditional tense to make that correct.


    The difference in meaning is minimal (arguably imperceptible). In any case "Who can have taken my toothbrush?" is perfectly good English which anyone might say if they found their toothbrush unexpectedly missing.


    To me could have sounds better.. i dont tink i would ever use who can have it grates


    Any opinions on "Who would have taken my toothpaste?"


    Probably the maid did it.

    No seriously, this is a tense that is commonly used in Italian, but most of us would express the concept differently in English. Duolingo wants most of these examples translated using the formula "who will/can have taken my toothpaste". I find that the easiest way to translate it for Duolingo is to say "Who could have taken my toothpaste", then substitute can for could. It's easier to get this tense in your head if you do it that way. The problem is that you could translate the Italian past conditional tense (avrebbe preso) the same way, and for some reason known only to Duolingo, that's a game stopping problem.

    There is a hypothetical element in the Italian question, and if you want to convey that in English, you'd say "Who (the optional expletive) would have taken my toothpaste" or "Who the (optional expletive) could have taken my (additional optional expletive) toothpaste. To say "Ok, Who took my toothpaste?" is more confrontational. It's saying that somebody took my toothpaste and they will live to regret it. ("È necessario che il marito muoia.")

    The Italian question is not like that. Using this tense is more polite than saying "Chi ha preso il mio dentifricio?" The concept is "Oh - my toothpaste is not there. Now who might have taken it?"


    Logically what you say makes sense. If my toothpaste were missing, I'd say "Who would have taken my toothpaste?" I would never say "Who can have taken my toothpaste?"

    But can anyone confirm this would be correct?


    Well, it would be the conditional tense, for starters.

    But "Who can have taken my toothpaste?" is a pretty normal, reasonable way to phrase the question. You could also use the conditional to say, "Who could have..." but that's a fairly subtle distinction.

    In this case, the Italian meaning is clearly, "Who can have taken my toothpaste?"


    I think that 'would' is good, here! (Though I am quite happy with 'will'.)


    This was already mentioned above, but "would" requires the conditional tense. Even if it sounds better in English, it's an incorrect translation.


    It's what I put, and was marked wrong. Much better English though.


    Il mostro del dentifricio!


    Il mostro a sette teste del dentifricio! ;)


    the speaker makes "chi" sound like "ti".


    I can't tell you how many times I was unable to correctly hear the speaker and got the question wrong!


    My thought also. It's like audio has 'lazy lips' speaker who won't/can't enunciate.


    I'm afraid. it is all about audio compression and bandwith. Duo must have taken a compromise to let people with restricted bandwidth still use audio samples. The clearer the voice, the more internet juice is necessary, and it is the more restrictive to mobile users. Better audio takes more data traffic and despite speed, data plan restrictions could apply, too. Rather unfortunate, but by and large reasonable.


    I think the most "normal" English statement of such a condition would be simply "Who took my toothpaste?"


    Mmmnot quite, as "took" is past tense, while "will have taken" is future perfect tense. Maybe it's not a very commonly used tense, but it exists in pretty much all indo-european languages.


    It is my bad that my mother tongue is an Altaic language (though debated). :D We Hungarians have only two tenses (present and past, without different perfect or continuous or something variants). Could you imagine how do we cope with this future perfect and its kind? :D:D:D


    The literal translation of the Italian is "will have taken" but that is missing an important point of this lesson which is that the Italian future perfect often refers to something that "must" have happened in the past. "Must" implies high probability but imperfect knowledge, so saying "you must have ..." is equivalent to saying "in the future, when I find out for sure, it WILL probably turn out that you have ..." which can be shortened to "you will have". I remember my grandparents using "you will have" with the meaning "you must have" so it used to exist in English also.


    But DL is not accepting must have as of June 2019


    MUST HAVE (or WILL HAVE) is used for declarative (indicative) sentences. CAN HAVE is used for interrogative ones (as here).


    True, but I can't see it happening any other way.


    story of my life...


    ElMonko, Maybe if you were asking a Medium to tell the future!


    I think the confusion is about the sentences you choose, "who will have taken my toothpaste" sounds like a sentence said in plotting out a play, but can't you use a bit more common sentences?


    When would this tense actually be used? I'm having trouble trying to fit it into conversation in my head.


    Oddly enough, I had the same thought, then one day I scared myself by actually thinking something in this tense - can't remember what is was though.


    I can't recommend this website enough: http://context.reverso.net/translation/italian-english/ You type in the phrase you want, for example "avrà preso" and it gives you multiple examples of the phrase used in a sentence, along with a reasonable (not necessarily literal) English translation. Based on the examples generated from "avrà preso" it seems the reasonable translation for this sentence is, "Who took my toothpaste?" I complained in the discussion about a similar sentence and a native speaker told me this tense is fairly common in Italian, so I guess we should learn it if we want to speak and understand Italian.


    The Italian Future Perfect here expresses the sense which in English is expressed by "Who can have taken...?" or "Who could have taken...?" or "Who might have taken...?" This is rather different from "Who took...?"

    The first three questions (which are virtually synonyous) could be answered by giving a list of possible candidates; the last one could only be answered by naming the person who actually did take it.


    "The future perfect can also,be used to express a conjecture about the past." Perché sarà venuto = why did he come. according to The Ultimate Italian Review and Praxtice.


    mjw: granted, but 'why will he have come?" and "why would he have come?" still involve different verb structures and so if there isn't a subtle distinction why have two? The same's true of the Italian or for that matter any language with similar structures.


    I put Who might have, which means roughly the same as Who can have. I think it should have been accepted.


    I agree: in questions "might have", like "could have", is a natural near-equivalent for "can have" in these conjectural contexts.

    But this is not true in declarative sentences: there "might have" is too weak, and to express the conjectural sense of the Italian Future Perfect you need "must have" or even ( a bit old-fashioned ) "will have".


    I hope these alternatives will be allowed.


    "Who might have taken" should be accepted


    in other future perfect examples "must" was accepted. I translated this as "who must have taken my toothpaste" any comments about why this would not work in the case?


    The translation with "must" (to express a strong believe or assumption) only works in declarative sentences (You must have taken my toothpaste / You will have taken my toothpaste) and not in questions (I wonder, who took my toothpaste -- Who will have taken my toothpaste).


    thanks, very helpful


    Exactly right, except that for questions nowadays one would more naturally say "Who can/could have taken my toothpaste?"


    Prendere PP = preso. Use of future of avere , future stem avr- o' ai and a' So avra' + preso = might have taken, will have taken but most typical is could have taken . This is the same tense as shown with future anteriore "they must have gone to bed." Can have taken is totally awkward. Future anterioriore : "must have made .....a reservation a month ago" "might have taken...."

    I wonder if "could" is not usually expressed with conditional of potere or potr - ei and 3rd person potrebbe


    "can have taken" is as you say totally awkward, indeed clearly wrong, for declarative sentences; but perfectly fine for interrogative ones like the present sentence.


    "who can have..."? Shouldn't it be "who could have"?


    When you start for example the Polish version of duo they tell you that translations mustn't just be literal word for word from polish but rather they need to make grammatical sense and actually be something you say in English. This Italian one however seems to prefer more literal translations even if they sound silly.


    But this is not a literal translation. And, not being a literal translation, it does not sound silly.


    Why can't you say who can (or will) have borrowed my toothpaste?


    That needs to be "prendere in prestito". "Prendere" on its own can't take that meaning.


    Elsewhere in this section, future perfect translates as "must have + past participle" but apparently not in this example. "Who must have taken..." was marked incorrect. I don't see much difference between that and "Who can have taken..."


    This section is dedicated to Madame Crystal, clairvoyant.


    This is just another FUBAR sentence that goes into my "crazy" file - you'll drive yourself crazy trying to figure out how you get to the translation, so there's no point in trying. BUT NOTE: I also have an "Idioms" file where I keep sentences which translate oddly from idiom to idiom, but which are worth remembering.

    This one is worth forgetting, at least until we get some sort of rule.


    That english is so wrong!


    It's not. As a native speaker it sounds fine. That said, I'd probably have said: Who could have taken my toothpaste, rather than 'who can have taken it' but there's nothing wrong with the sentence as DL has translated it.


    who can have taken seems like bad English grammar. Who could or would would be the proper way to ask this question??


    I just used might and was marked wrong. The only reasonable situation is that this is a conjecture and MIGHT should have been used.


    mjw. Duo's sentence is in the future perfect indicative, so "will have", expressing something factual. . "Might" as you say expresses conjecture, so future perfect subjunctive (conditional) would be more appropriate -- avrebbe preso.


    "Who may have taken my toothpaste?" is not accepted. What do you guys think?


    Fekkezaum: That's definitely the sense of it.


    Mia sorella l'ha preso. Va bene. Lei l'ha comprato! :)


    It is far better English to say ''who could have taken my toothpaste?''


    It may be more common phrasing, but as discussed in multiple other comments, that's not what the Italian translates to.


    In my experience it is not even more common phrasing, though doubtless usage differs somewhat throughout the English-speaking world. "Who can have taken my toohbrush?" is what I and everyone I know would naturally say.


    Could sounds more natural to me than can here.


    This is the perfect question to ask the fortune-teller.

    OK, I just read some of the comments and I'm flabbergasted that people don't use or understand this tense. It is fairly simple — even if you may never use this sentence outside of a conversation with a fortune-teller who predicted that your toothpaste will have been stolen by the end of next week.


    This example is not the straightforward Future Perfect tense though, expressing what will already have happened before some other future event. It is the so-called conjectural usage of that tense in Italian, to signify an idea of what might be true. In English we use (besides "might have") "must have" to express this in declarative sentences, and "can have" or "could have" in interrogative ones (ie questions).

    So for example

    "He must have done it" = Lo avrà fatto

    "Can/Could he have done it?" = Lo avrà fatto?


    in the sentence just before this, chi avra preso was translated as "who might have taken.... But in this sentence that translation using "might" is rejected. Can anyone explain?


    I have the same question!


    Doesn't it makes sense to cut through all of the grammatical and translational gymnastics and just say, "Who took my toothpaste," since that is all that the sentence actually means? Writing it in the future perfect tense seems superfluous, and doesn't make it mean something else... "Chi ha preso il mio dentifricio?"


    "Who took my toothpaste," since that is all that the sentence actually means?

    No, that is not what this sentence means.

    Duolingo has complicated this by adding "can", but the most simple translation is "who will have taken my toothpaste?".


    If you think "can" is a needless complication, you have not understood the conjectural sense of the Italian Future Perfect tense in this context. See my earlier replies.


    Where does the word "can" is coming from?


    See my responses all over this thread!


    where is the verb can (potato) in this sentence?


    One of the uses of the Future Perfect tense in Italian is to indicate a conjecture which is not certain. So eg Lo avrà fatto, literally "he will have done it", can sometimes be used to indicate what in English is expressed by he must have done it. Notice that the use of 'must' here in English has nothing to do with being obliged or compelled to do something, which is I suppose the most common use of 'must' (Italian dovere). There is no implication that he had to do it.

    In questioning such conjectures, however, English tends to switch from using "must" to use "can" or "could" instead: hence can/could he have done it?. (Again, as for 'must' above, the use of can/could here has nothing to do with the usual sense of 'can'/'could' viz being able to do something (Italian potere). The question is not whether he was able to do it) Anyway the Italian for this is just the same sentence as before turned into a question by raising the intonation at the end: Lo avrà fatto?

    So (finally!) actually to answer your question "Where is the verb 'can' in this sentence?" the answer is that it (for English speakers anyway) is implicit in the use of the future perfect tense in the interrogative mood.


    I get the difference in the verb tenses conditional and future perfect. The problem here is different. We are being asked to assume that the sentence is common usage in Italian. Secondly we are being told that the translation is to an awkward English phrase that perhaps some in the UK might use, but is never used in the United States. In that, it just seems to be a bad choice to demonstrate the future perfect.


    I think it is attempting to demonstrate the conjectural use of the future perfect.

    If you don't like "Who can have taken my toothpaste", by all means substitute another word for "can" here to make it sound like something you might say. (Maybe "who could have..?" or "who might have...?")

    But anyway, whatever you feel comfortable with, that is the sense of the Italian "chi avrà preso...?" (ie not the literal future perfect tense, which would sound very odd here).


    Can you translate all future perfect sentences in multiple ways, like "He will have..." and "He must have..." and "He might have..." and things like that? Or does it all depend on context and the other words you use in the sentence?


    It does depend on context (sometimes the alternative translations make no sense), but generally yes, the future perfect can translate to "must have" or "might/can have."


    It bears remarking that the straight English future perfect "will have" is itself not without its conjectural connotations, though it never really sounds quite idiomatic enough for me...


    Why is "who might have taken my toothpaste" incorrect, what's wrong with Duolingo???


    The hints say must have, so that is what I used. it also makes sense--which roommate took my toothpaste? He must have taken it.


    No, the Italian future perfect in a question like this suggests possibility or probability, not necessity.


    "He must have taken it" is perfect as a translation of "Lui l'avrà preso". But "Can he have taken it?" is what is needed for the corresponding question: "Lui l'avrà preso?" And similarly for "Chi l'avrà preso?"


    It doesn't matter because it hasn't been taken yet!


    The future perfect here is addressing a last action which did take place and speculating on who might have carried it out.


    It should be: Who will have taken my toothpaste?


    That is also a valid translation. But as discussed (at length) in the comments, the future perfect tense in Italian can be translated in a variety of ways.


    Thinking like this is a bit paranoid!


    I wonder who took my toothpaste--- should also be accepted. Duo Lingo needs to learn about how people from the USA express themselves!!!


    Although that expresses the general idea of this sentence, you're using a totally different subject and verb for the main clause, as changing the sentence from a question to a statement. Your sentence is grammatically fine, but it's not an appropriate translation of this Italian sentence.


    this sentence sounds uncomfortable


    The English translation is something no one would ever say in that way.


    Most natural sentence for me would be: "Who has taken my toothpaste? But I wonder what 'Baby bear would have said….


    That is a natural phrasing, but it's a totally different tense.


    Yes thank you for your response. I agree but was having a bad case of head spin and began to regress…..hence the reference to Goldilocks and The Three Bears…. :-)


    Who can have taken my toothpaste ? I don't really imagine that I would ask this . Maybe who MIGHT have taken my toothpaste would be better here .


    can means being able too. Might is preferable


    "Might" is perfectly fine, but "can" is fine too, precisely because it does not always mean "is able to", but can(!) also mean "might".


    DL's English translation is nonsensical. Reported 17.5.15


    The English translation makes perfect sense.


    It not only makes perfect sense; it is probably the best way to translate the given Italian.

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