The problem with the used to translation for the imperfect is that what it is NOT meant to imply (but does) is that the thing does not happen any more. That's the "imperfect aspect", that the action is not necessarily complete. The imperfect is used because he routinely feed his dog. That's what requires the imperfect. Now why we are talking about him feeding the dog in the past belongs to the unknown context. But the Spanish sentence has absolutely no implication that he no longer feeds his dog.
I agree with Robin that this is most likely an incomplete sentence/thought. All of these imperfect sentences require further explanation.
"My friend would let his dog eat anything, but then the dog kept getting sick. So, he had to put his dog on a special diet."
"My friend was letting his dog eat right out of the dog food bag, but then all the food would get spilled all over the floor."
"My friend used to let her dog drink wine, but then I pointed out that grapes are poisonous for dogs, so she stopped." - True story
Yes. One of the problems on Duo is that users tend to conflate the idea of a complete sentence with the idea of a complete thought. We often speak in both incomplete sentences and incomplete thoughts because the conversation supplies what's missing. But the complete sentences can also be complete thoughts. There is even a chance that the main point of this sentence doesn't have anything to do with the dog's diet. But we'd have to see a couple of the previous sentences to know. It could be he can't bend down to put the bowl on the floor any more or something to do with the friend, not the dog.
That was a quick response. I get your point about the difference between complete thoughts vs. complete sentences. There is a subject and verb in this sentences, so technically, it is a complete sentence.
However, I think that without further explanation this sentence does imply that this person is starving his dog to death. That's not a happy thought. So, I prefer to think of it as an incomplete thought which requires further explanation that would indicate that the situation is far less dire.
But that is exactly why you see me in virtually every discussion section where the exercise uses the imperfect decrying the use of "used to". The Spanish ABSOLUTELY DOES NOT imply the man is starving the dog. It's the use of used to that makes us think so. That is what makes the "would" option far superior. Often, although certainly not always, when you talk about what happened in the past, something has changed. But at a minimum "used to" characterizes the change as completion. I actually react somewhat nostalgically to the would option. It is often used to describe the idyllic past, so the sense that something may have changed is there. But it isn't as definitive. And the actual context clues are generally more definitive
"My friend left his dog to eat." is what I put and was accepted (no objections from me). This sentence could technically mean that the friend left his dog and let the dog eat, but could also mean that the friend left his dog in order to get something to eat for himself. My question is, could you use the Spanish sentence in the same two ways as the English one?
No, because: 1. The dejar -> dejaba conjugation covers the 'used to' part. Unlike English, Spanish doesn't need a separate verb to express this. Same way we don't need a separate verb to put something into the simple past, as we have the conjugation e.g. dejar -> dejé = I left. 2. You have two conjugated verbs together, so if anything it would be "solía dejar".
Ahh... I get the first part of what you said, I didn't realize "debaja" was the verb form of Past Imperfect (yet I should have because of the topic of this lesson). I thought "debaja" was the present form of "let/letting" but I don't know why I thought that too. Yet, why would I say "solía dejar" instead of "solía debaja"? Is that simply not allowed?
This site is good for the conjugations: http://www.spanishdict.com/conjugate/dejar
I don't know the grammar well enough to explain why, but it's kind of like .. 'bebo'='I drink' and 'puedo'='I can' but 'I can drink' isn't 'Puedo bebo' if that makes sense?
p.s. I noticed Duolingo wrecked the formatting in my post, so sorry if this one is hard to read :-)
Interestingly, Duo accepted «My friend left his dog to eat» as a translation -- meaning, I presume, that my friend departed from his dog in order to eat, or else possibly meaning that my friend left his dog alone to eat (in peace). Now that I think about it, probably the latter.
I get confused, "used to" and "was" are both possible translations but in English they seem to mean something different(to me at least). "Used to" sounds like he did but now he has stopped definitely, but "was" sounds more like he just finished feeding him because the dog is now full, but he will probably continue in the future. Am i the only one that thinks this? Used to=definite and was=indefinite. ?. how would it be conveyed in Spanish if I said it?
"my friend was feeding his dog" should be allowed as a natural-sounding translation. Ok, in Spanish "feed" would more be like "dar de comer" than "dejar comer", but as a translation, "feed" sounds much better unless you specify WHAT the friend let his dog eat (eg. "let his dog eat pineapple").
This is the imperfect past rather than the simple past, so other alternatives would be “was letting” or “would let” (past form, rather than conditional) to retain the imperfect. The simple past doesn’t let Duolingo know that you know what form this is, though simple past can be used to replace almost any past form in English, if you don’t mind being less clear about when in the past. This is especially less clear with a verb that is the same in the present and the simple past, so I don’t know if Duolingo will accept it.
No. The problem is that the Spanish sentence in no way implies that he no longer lets his dog eat. There are many times we say things in the past tense because we are talking about the past without any implication either way as to the current situation. This sentence simply means that, at this period of time in question, his friend let his dog eat routinely. With a sentence like this the missing context probably does contain some information about a change in routine. But many sentences may not address that factor at all. For example. Le presenté a mi hermana a un tipo que conocía del trabajo. I introduced my sister to a guy I KNEW from work. In many situations you may never get any more information about your relationship with that guy. You may still know him and maybe work with him, or not. That's the imperfect. That's why I hate the "used to" gimmick. It serves the function of implying more than once, but everything else that people tend to assume from it is not valid. If you are thinking "used to" in the sense of a practice that has changed, that would use solía. Mi amigo dejo a su perro is a one time action in the past. Any time you want to talk about an action that happened two or more times in the past, or a state that existed for an unspecified period of time in the past, you must use the imperfect. But the "imperfect" part of the imperfect tense is that the verb is not necessarily perfectly completed.