"Penso che loro si siano tenuti le chiavi."

Translation:I think that they have kept the keys.

July 11, 2013

This discussion is locked.


Why is tenersi used here instead of tenere?


This is one of those cases when you are allowed to hate Italians: pronominal verbs :-) These verbs have the reflexive form but they are not reflexive (http://www.treccani.it/enciclopedia/verbi-pronominali_%28Enciclopedia_dell%27Italiano%29/)


Thank you for this useful link. I see that Italian pronominal verbs work as in other Romance languages. For anyone who reads this thread I would like to point out that IMO (warning: non Italian-speaker talking) si tenere differs from tenere in that the former conveys the sense of retaining something to oneself, for one's future use or whatever that excludes sharing with others, while the latter means simply to keep or hold something, even without the intent of possessing it. I hope this helps.


Yes, agreed. "I think that they kept the keys for themselves" was accepted.


Hi, Muttley. What I still don't understand is - why does keeping the keys use tenerSI, but keeping a secret just uses plain old tenere - and popping in a SI loses you a heart. Soooo confused. :)


As I said, the use of the pronominal verbs is a pain in the ass :-/
Besides, tenere un segreto is an expression: tenersi un segreto would still be acceptable but would rise more than an eyebrow.


Hi, Muttley. Finally took the time to look at the web site you suggested - ma, e' in Italiano! Gosh. Too much like work. Too soon for me. (Thanks anyway.) But I did scratch around looking for English sites about pronominal verbs in Italian.

I see what you mean. A lot like our 'phrasal verbs' ... sorry, I am assuming you are English speaking, though it's hard to tell on this site. (That's a compliment, if you're not.) Phrasal verbs use prepositions and other particles to confused the $%^ out of second-language speakers. Put off, put on, put up, put out, put by ... great fun. So, I think I get it. Just because you think you understand the meaning of tenere, don't assume you know what tenersi means ... and anything ending in -sene is to be looked at very carefully. All thanks to that one clue 'pronominal' - for which, much thanks.

PS I would still like to know what 'tenersi un segreto' means. :)


Hi Linda. I am actually half Italian and half Swedish :-) tenersi un segreto means 'to keep one secret to oneself'.


> would rise more than an eyebrow.

Raise. Rise/raise is kind of like lie/lay. You can't lie a book on the table, you lay it there. You can't lay down (at least not in the present tense), you lie down. You don't raise in the morning, you rise. And you can't rise an eyebrow, you raise it.


Yes. "Subject" rises (itself) - The sun rises. "Subject" raises "object" (something other than itself) - He raises his hand/eyebrows. "Subject" lies (itself) - She lies on the bed/floor. "Subject" lays "object" - The hen lays an egg! This last example helps me to remember the difference.


Hi Trevor. Thanks for the correction :-)


Good explanation. And a lot of native English speakers get "lay" and "lie" confused.


NOW you have my interest. What would that mean?


Plenty of other languages I know have reflexive verbs, so I personally don't find them difficult at all as a concept. But I too concur with the original questioner that it's hard to understand why 'tenersi' is used in this particular sentence.

In past Duolingo lessons we have learned that 'tenere' means 'to keep' and 'tenersi' means 'to be held' or 'to take place' (e.g. an event). We've also learned the expression 'tenersi fuori', 'tenersi pronto', and 'tenersi lontano da'. All of these make instinctive sense to me. But none help us conclude that 'tenersi' should be used in THIS sentence (as opposed to simple 'tenere').

Is there perhaps a shades-of-meaning difference between "Penso che loro si siano tenuti le chiavi" and "Penso che loro abbiano tenuto le chiavi", or is the latter simply wrong?


Thanks that's really interesting


I think the Italian has a meaning of "to themselves" "among themselves" "between themselves" etc that is not reflected in the English ( but perhaps should be ) ?

edit: ah! "for themselves" is accepted on the English side. I'll ask them to add the other possible translations?


mrule: I put (& had accepted) "I think they kept the keys for themselves", which granted doesn't make a lot of sense out of context, but it does render at least the reflexive. It would have made more sense (as a reflexive) if it'd been: I think they kept all the money for themselves or all the chocolate, etc."


Well, "to themselves" is still not accepted, I will ask again I guess :-).


It wouldn't make much sense with keys. You keep objects for yourself. You keep secrets to yourself.

  • but "le chiave" could be in the sense of "solutions" rather than objects. In that case, people could keep them "to" themselves.


I think that's a good idea, to help make us aware of the distinction between tenere and tenersi

  • 2323

"for themselves" was marked wrong for me.


The other "correct" translation was "...the keys for themselves". I left out "for" and lost a heart. I can see no difference in meaning, whether "for" is there or not and think both should be accepted.


There is a subtle difference. For themselves implies they are keeping the keys in order to use them on their own behalf. The other translation could mean they are keeping them on behalf of someone else,e.g., to give to the renters coming next week or something similar.


Why is siano used here an not abbiano?


Hi, Metlieb

It's a reflexive verb - they all use essere as the auxiliary. [Actually, I believe (strictly) it's a pronominal verb - it behaves like a reflexive.]



Never knew that. Thanks for pointing it out :)


not sure why " I think they kept the keys themselves" was marked wrong considering "I think they kept the keys" and "I think they kept the keys for themselves" were both accepted.


Leaving out the 'for' makes it unclear whether the 'themselves' refers to the keys or the people keeping them. The Italian meaning for this verb means that 'for themselves' is a better translation and clearer.


This is all extremely complex and I'm having quite a struggle with it!


Eileen, maybe it's the reflexive causing you trouble. The problem is not every Italian reflexive construction has an english equivalent. Here it's similar to the english folksy use of the reflexive (though the italian's quite normal) to indicate indirect objects: I bought me a new car/ I kept/saved me one for the road, etc. I don't know if that only muddies the waters, but maybe it's helpful. When there's no appropriate equivalent they simply have to be learned as you encounter them.


Grazie mille! You've helped clear the muddy waters in my brain. Please accept this lingot :-)


Thank you! I'm glad I could be of help.


excellent analogy. and yes, that would be very "folksy"... even in Texas


Donna, thank ya now, ya hear. Ya jes gotta watch you some more of dat Duck Dynasty show on da tv, cher.


"I bought myself a new car" may sound more natural to some English speakers, and is the same idea.


I think that they have held on to the keys/ that they have retained possession of the keys / but not necessarily holding them in their hands at that moment


I put 'they themselves have kept the keys' and was marked wrong


When using the word bank, I work out the answer before looking at the words and after answering look at the hints. The hint under "chiavi", apart from "keys" was "(you) shag". Can anyone enlighten me on this suggested translation?


That's the verb chiavare meaning, indeed, 'to screw/❤❤❤❤' (very rude).

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