Translation:It would be an error if he were not to play.
The only comment I have about this translation is that we never say it would be an "error". We would say, it would be a "mistake" if he didn't play or doesn't play or if he were not to play. Errors are usually reserved for errors on tests or grammatical errors, for e.g.
I've given up trying to understand the nuances of the Italian subjunctive and conditional in terms of DL's judgememt as to what is a correct idiomatic translation. It DOES seem random and arbitrary. I guess you have to be Italian born and raised. I'm having to rely on memorization and my pages of notes, from which I can derive no sense whatsoever.
In my opinion if you want to learn properly Italian subjunctive and conditional you need a good Italian grammar, that's the base and than you can understand and practise with duo's sentences.
I have no issues at all with the Italian grammar - it is what it is, and we've got to learn it.
My issue is with Duo's sporadic use of the English subjective, as here. "if he were not to play" rather than the much more frequent use of English present or past tense (e.g., "if he played"). There have been numerous instances where using "if...were to [verb]" would be a much more accurate translation - but I've shied away from using it, because I've been marked wrong too many times.
It just seems to me that using English subjective past/imperfect to translate Italian subjunctive imperfect is a better fit than using simple present or simple past. Here, for unknown reasons, Duo chose English subjective past. It's highly inconsistent and confuses things, because it seems like the Italian actually translates best in the "if...were" format, thought not always.
Jeff elucidates the problem much better than I could have. Enjoy your lingot. Silen03, do you mean a good Italian grammar book? (That's not clear in American English. An Italian textbook would be the more usual term.) I have several and they seem to be referring to as many different languages.
@rjjacob. Yes, sorry, I meant a good book about Italian grammar. I'm sorry I can't suggest one. What I can recomend is to read Italian books written by Italian authors, lots of examples help to clarify. But don't trust Duo unless you read comments.
@Jeffrey855877. I really understand your frustration because it happened to me several times about my language. Thanks for comment about proper use of English.
It's not just the number of types of subjunctives, conditionals, perfects, etc. Most languages have them more or less. But it is the use of them to provide more nuanced expressions not ordinarily related to the particular verb form in other languages. I'm sure there must be an acculturation in Italian society that breeds an understanding of these in its children. Does this account for the predilection among Italians to use their hands as complements to their spoken language? DL falls short in not preparing us for this. I guess I'm just going to have to spend a year or more in Italy, but at 80, I don't know when I can fit it into my agenda.
@rjjacob. Actually there is a lot of Italian people that don't use properly subjunctive and conditional tenses precisely because of their nuances, maybe because they didn't study properly at school and/or they just don't care. But sometimes also educated people do mistakes when they speak - the difference is that you can notice when that happens - that's unusual when they write. (That's why I suggest you to read Italian books or also newspapers). However, in my opinion, the point is that since Duolingo is a sort of language class, it's right to teach the most correct way to speak the language. That being said don't worry about your Italian period, we are not so strict when we talk, especially to foreign people. Take your time to learn on the place, because yes, that needs time.
My understanding of grammar is almost nil. I am fluent but totally in the dark about how to name the parts of a sentence, breaking it down into named components. I did not cover this at school and some terms were totally new to me, clitics and gerunds for example. I check all the comments and really appreciate your patience with those os who are baffled! Many thanks
sarebbe is present conditional here, so how if he does not play is not accepted?
This translation I would never guess. "I would like that this exercise finished" in the DL spirit.