1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Portuguese
  4. >
  5. "The mother has been putting …

"The mother has been putting her daughter to sleep early."

Translation:A mãe tem colocado a filha para dormir cedo.

June 25, 2013



I wrote " A mãe tem colocado a filha a dormir cedo" but is was not accepted. Is a and para not interchangeable here?


I don't think this is the right translation. I though colocado was a "Particípio passado"...I would have thought that "colocando" would be the correct translation for "putting"...


I see.... but the literal translation would sound awkward in portuguese. Its a continuous action expressed in present perfect progressive and translate as present perfect


That sentence is correct. You should look at the tense of the first verb: "tem colocado" (present) vs. "tinha colocado" (past).


[Edit: Mostly due to my ignorance at the time it was created this thread is quite long - sorry about that.]

This is a really awkward tense for English speakers to understand. When I translate this sentence in a literal way I get "The mother has put her daughter to bed early". ("put her daughter to sleep" doesn't sound good in English :-) I'm told that a Portuguese speaker doesn't hear it that way and for them it implies a continuous or iterative quality which is more like "The mother has been putting her daughter to bed early". (It is also confusing that Duolingo often accepts both translations.) So the rule for me is: "ter (present) + -do form of word" maps to "has/have been + -ing form of word".

It is difficult for us to pin down exactly what a native speaker makes of sentences in this tense because mapping it to the English "been -ing" form doesn't really work every time. A good example I came across here was the sentence "A população tem entendido o papel do rei". The sentence I get by the rule above is "The people have been understanding the king's role" (a Duolingo accepted translation). That sounds like they have all been sitting around discussing the subject of the king's role - which is silly. Perhaps it means that "The people have understood the king's role and will do so forever". Or alternatively something closer to a native speaker's perception may be "The people have been coming to an understanding of the king's role". I don't mean that to be an accepted translation but just a way of illustrating how the sentence is perceived. I would really welcome your comments.


Thats it... we hardly ever traslate Present Perfect Continuous literally, but like Present Perfect. "I've been waiting for you for an hour" - tenho te esperado há uma hora!. This translation in Portuguese still shows something that started occurring in the past up to now. "Ive worked at GM for twenty years" - trabalho na GM há vinte anos / tenho trabalhado na GM há vinte anos. The first transation is more common. So, we dont have literal transalatios English-Portuguese for these cases...


The two sentences you have chosen don't really help my argument :-) The sentence "I have been waiting for you for an hour" and "I have waited for you for an hour" are both things we could say to whoever we were waiting for when they turn up (with a strong preference for the first version). The sentences "I have worked at GM for twenty years" and "I have been working at GM for twenty years" convey the same information.

Now compare that with the sentence that started this discussion "The mother has been putting her daughter to sleep early"; it really is nowhere close to meaning "The mother has put her daughter to sleep early". The former (at least to me) tells me about the mother's habit and the latter tells me what the mother did earlier today. It must be possible to distinguish those two scenarios very clearly in Portuguese.


Hope you have got the point... you dont use a literal translation for Present Perfect Progressive. Thats sound weird to us. But we take that as a literal translation of Present Perfect. 'present perfect continuous - present perfect / present perfect - present perfect, simple past / simple past - simple past'


Ok... present perfect is most of time translated as simple past and progressive as past perfect. So, the sentences about the mother: 1- a mãe tem colocado a filha para dormir cedo" (part of her routine) 2- a mãe colocou sua filha para dormir



But it seems like we'll still find more problem on it... they keep mixing them up!!


Thanks both of you, this helps a lot in trying to figure this out!


Hi Paulo. For us there is usually a sharp distinction between "have done" and "been doing" but if you use "have done" to mean "been doing" how do you say "have done"? (That's more of a rhetorical question). Often a literal Portuguese to English translation works to give me a feeling of what is being said even if it needs a bit of polish later to make it acceptable as an English sentence. This tense is one of the places I feel a bit lost, but then again I've still got a long way to go and there may be many more difficult issues coming up. Thanks again.


I see that. Thats a tough point though.... we hardly ever translate "Present Perfect Progressive" literally. What have you been doing? - o que você tem feito? / you'll pay for what you've done - você pagará pelo que você tem feito/fez. So, most of time we translate that this. We are not used to making great distinctions in Portuguese...


Looks like we've reached the last level of indentation because the message I want to reply to doesn't have a "Reply" button :-)

Thank you so much for putting up with my questions. I knew there was the possibility of using the "The mother put ..." to replace "The mother has put ...". Now, you've opened up another can of semantic worms (English worms :-), i.e. what's the difference between "has put" and "put". That's for another day. Thanks again for taking the time to explain things.


:-)...Duo sometimes drives us crazy to figure out some nuances!! I think it is easier in Port than it is in english. We have fewer variations. I was teaching this week "presentcperfect progressive" to some colleagues and i had to highlight: "folks, if you take a word for word translation it will sound too odd for us..."


I think Duolingo accepts both "have been understanding" and "has understood" because this nuance in English may not be available in Portuguese but the sentence remains literally correct. The same way, the "been -ing" can be translated literally into French but the nuance is not the same as in English. It is just something to accept and the "been -ing" nuance might be expressed in other words than verbs in Portuguese.


That king's sentence (a população tem entendido o papel do rei), here it means:

From a certain point in the past, every time the king has done something, people were able to understand his role. And they still do.

The forever part is not implied here.


I was trying to make a case for the translation "The people have understood the king's role". However, once something is understood the implication is that it is understood forever. The alternative "The people have been understanding the king's role" is ungrammatical. Do you have a translation that captures your meaning?


I'm afraid I don't have a good translation for that....what I know is that this sentence implies "repetition of various actions" of "understanding". Not a single continous understanding, but many demands for understanding. And people habe been "passing" those tests, they understood it every time. (A single continous understanding would be less unusual if it were continuously increasing, like "people has been understanding more and more", which is not the case here)

It's like if the king's role had many aspects, or there were a role for each situation. At any moment people could question the king's role, so it's important that they keep understanding it every time.

A good way to understand the meaning of this tense is adding the "lately" adverb. Let me try...

"People have been able to understand the king's role lately".


(I can't respond to your other comment.) Thank you for trying so hard to help me understand the point. This is one of those occasions where thinking in one language is truly different to thinking in another: something you can say succinctly in Portuguese needs a bit more explanation in English.


Is this translation missing something?

Shouldn't it be:

A mãe tem colocado a SUA filha para dormir cedo.


This is quite natural and common in Portuguese. You use article "o" or "a" instead of "my, your, his, her, its, our, their". Of course, only if the thing belongs to the subject of the sentence (here: a mãe).

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