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"Mi amigo dejaba a su perro comer."

Translation:My friend used to let his dog eat.

July 13, 2013



¿Ahora su pobre perro tiene hambre?


tiene hambre

My apologies for seeming pedantic.


Pedantic is what teaches me, Devin. Gracias. I rather make mistakes on an anonymous crowd-source web program than sound like an idiot gringo overseas. BTW, did everyone notice the personal a in the sentence?


Help me out please, whats wrong with tiene hambre? I don't understand...


The first person said “Then, your poor dog is hungry?” but there must have been a misspelling or something, so you came after it was already corrected.


Ooh i get it now! Thank you!


Su perro no vive ahora. Adios Rex


This is the problem with the English translation "used to" for Spanish imperfect. Sometimes it works, but not always. The Spanish can mean a few things including:

  • He was letting his dog eat.... when something else happened.

  • He let his dog eat repeatedly for an unspecified number of times (which is completely normal behavior). It in no way implies that he doesn't let his dog eat anymore...

On the other hand, "used to let his dog eat" with no further qualification is just bizarre in English.


Someone call the ASPCA


why not her dog?


Because the sentence uses "amigo" not "amiga"


But it could be a different person's dog.


Well that would explain it. Her dog used to come to his house and eat with his dog. He used to let her dog eat. Now he sends her dog home and only feeds his own dog.


worked for me...


"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?


It could perhaps also mean that he had leftovers from eating his dogs, so he left one for someone else. Although I would prefer "to be eaten" in that case, or to extend the sentence: "... for someone else to eat"

  • 437

The given translation might be setting the scene for a story. "My friend was letting his dog eat. Suddenly,..."


Mí amigo dejaba a su perro comer de su mano. Would be a better sentence.


"Was letting" = "estaba dejando"; "dejaba" = used to let. Please correct.


Most native speakers will just say dejaba. It can mean used to let or was letting


Now, the dog lets him eat! :)

(This sentence needed a happy ending.)


why "a" su perro?


The "personal a" is usually used with pets.

  • No dejaba comer

  • ¿A quién?

  • A su perro

I hope this help


Now he DOESN'T let his dog eat ???


I'm calling the RSPCA


Its like a parent saying “Oh yeah, I used to let my son eat, but that was before he died. Oh, if you wanted to know, he died of hunger. I wonder how that happened. I mean, he seemed fine to me.”


Thought he said eat his dog


I agree, it doesn't make sense as a sentence by itself, but if it is only part of a sentence it works. "My friend used to let his dog eat table scraps." Implying he no longer lets him eat scraps, but he still lets him eat other things.


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


I was thinking Chinese food with chopsticks, but not anymore! Messy dog!


Well, perhaps he let the dog eat freely, the dog got fat, and now the dog can only eat as much as it needs to eat. Would have been better if it had been explicitly stated.


the better translation is "my friend was letting his dog eat". like you are telling a story about why you were late to the party yesterday.


we need answers


everyone wants something.

You want answers, the dog wants food, . . ..


He can have a little bit of food, but absolutely no water! My friend draws the line at water!


I'm thinking the correct english translation is "My friend left his dog to eat." In other words he left his dog alone so it could eat? At least I hope so. Haha.


dejar + infinitive = to allow or permit.


Yeah that's how I translated it too, but it is ambiguous! Did he leave his dog alone to eat or did he leave his dog because he was going to a restaurant to get something to eat for himself??


Hopefully there's more to this sentence.


Look, one just has to accept that these are exercises not meant to reflect reality, but only to test the student's knowledge.


'My friend was letting his dog eat' is an accepted and less controversial answer


"My friend was allowing her dog to eat." Why is this wrong? Is "his" always the default assumption for "su?"


I don't know if you got the same question as I did but in mine it said "amigo" not "amiga" which would need "his" not "her".


But the "su" isn't necessarily referring to the subject, is it? It could refer to some other woman's dog, not just el de mi amigo.


Absent any other context, "su" would indicate the subject of the sentence.


Howard, I'm curious, how do I get passed level 11 in Spanish? I see that you are in level 18, but I have no more choices after achieving a nicely dressed plump graduated owl. Thanks in advance.


After you finish all the courses in a language, most days (maybe every day) one or more of them will be marked for "strengthening". Just keep checking back.


Thank you Howard, that just happened with another language. I appreciate your help. Good day.


Bad sentence, nonsensical translation.


yes i agree , bad translation


It is kind of a funny sentence when you think about the implication that the dog is no longer allowed to eat. Perhaps a better sentence to translate would be "my friend used to let his dog eat popcorn..." or something equally unusual.


One of the suggested answers is "My friend let his dog to eat."


Yeah maybe it's a British English thing, but for me that makes no sense.


Sounds weird to me, North American English speaker.


Sounds a little like Pennsylvania Dutch speaking here.


I just don't get it why the "perro" has an "a" since a dog is not a person. Anybody got an explanation for this?


Generally, the personal 'a' is used when referring to a pet like a cat or a dog. We all know people who treat their dogs as kids.....me included:)


When a person or a pet is the direct object of a sentence add an 'a' (called the personal a) before it.

Eg. Yo veo mi casa (no a because casa house is not a person or pet )

Yo veo a mi madre


So I haven't seen anyone ask this yet, and I didn't make this mistake, I'm just wondering. Could you conceivable say "Mi amigo dejaba comer a su perro."? Could any native speakers tell me if that's grammatically incorrect or if it just sounds stilted?


"...used to..."?

Anyway, shouldn't this be "Mi amigo solía dejaba su perro comer."?


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 :-)


So this is one of the correct answers? "My friend left your dog to eat". As natural a sentence as you can find!


Now he feeds me. Good doggie


this sentence makes noooooooooo sense what so ever


y ahora, el perro está muerto :( descansa en paz


Is this how spanish speakers actually talk? What a dumb thing for Amigo to do.


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.


It could just be "My friend let his dog eat," right?


So the object can come between the helping verb and the infinitive? That's surprising given how most verb phrases like this have been formed in other exercises.


No the object cannot come between the auxiliary verb and the infinitive. Neither dejaba nor comer are helping verbs. Dejaba = used to let, comer = to eat.


My friend allowed his dog to eat. Is that possible?


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 dictionary says dejaba can mean [left] which apparently here is wrong. Why?


Because there's no direct object in the sentence.


Howcheng - the reason that dejaba isn't translated as "left" is because the correct tense to mean "left" is in the preterite dejó. Perhaps your answer belongs to another question.:)


But there are plenty of instances where I would want to use an imperative form. I used to leave food out for a stray cat, but raccoons ate it instead, so I stopped. Preterite would not be appropriate there.


This is not imperative form.

"used to leave" or "was leaving" would work for this verb, but not really for this sentence where the animal is the direct object instead of the food.


Sorry, that was an autocorrect error. I mean imperfect.


"My friend left food for his dog" should also be scored as correct.


Robert -dejar in the preterite can mean "left" but not in the imperfect tense. According to my dictionary "dejó" in the preterite means "left".


Yes. I see now where you are right. My mistake.


No, that's a completely different meaning. Mi amigo dejaba la comida para su perro.


Because Spanish uses the preposition "a" with many verbs to indicate that the noun or name that follows is an indirect object, being told something or allowed / forbidden to do something (for example), but not being physically transformed or acted upon. When animals are involved, you use the "a" when you want to give the impression that they are like a person, not an object. In English, you often use "to" for that purpose: "I said to the dog ..." versus "I petted (fed, walked, saw) the dog." Duolingo has not gotten around to providing exercises which show us when Spanish can represent animals either way. Of course, in other situations, the animals can be agents: "The dog rescued / warned / comforted / followed me."


You have confused two different issues on your comment. The preposition a is always used when specifying an indirect object. That's pretty much how you know it's an indirect object. What this sentence doesn't have is clitic doubling. Normally I would expect this to be Mi amigo le dejaba a su perro de comer, although there are some ins and outs I don't understand. What you mixed in was the Spanish "personal a". This is used before a person or pet which is the direct object. That's one reason it's so confusing to new speakers because it makes a direct object look like an indirect one. Duo uses the personal a with pet dogs and cats routinely, but omits it for most other animals. If the more human term for feed was used here, where the dog is actually the direct object, that would use the personal a. Mi amigo alimenta a su perro.

I found it interesting that you chose such traditional sentences for dog as agent on Duo where Horses dance in boots along the river and elephants ride bikes. But those would be the more common choices, por cierto.


Shouldn't there be a type of food here to make this sentence sound complete?


This is a cruel sentence!


Or really sad. He used to let his dog eat before it was hit by a truck and died. It does still seem strange though "He was letting his dog eat..." sounds better.


Comer wasn't showing on the screen so it made no sense at all: didn't let his dog WHAT?


Scroll down next time, some phone apps can't fit the whole sentence on the screen but just scroll down to see it.


"My friend used to let his dog TO eat." This was not accepted? Why


We would use the bare infinitive here, without "to" after the verb "let" as well as after "can".


"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").


Were these sentences made by a human or was it an algorithm taking shit at random from the web? Either way...


That was a mistype!


how can I know that the meaning of "Dejaba" is to leave .Total injustice.


Precisely what I wrote. But still, DL claims that I have used a wrong word, and suggests that it should be 'to leave' ... ???


It depends what form you wrote it in. "was letting" or "used to let" is allowed.


Llama la sociedad de humana


When did that change?

Also, when will he let the dog eat again? My dog can't go 12 hours without freaking out.


The dog may have a surgery scheduled or just had one.


i really don't like this guy


I wasn't sure how to answer this, so I said, "My friend left your dog to eat" and it was correct... Not sure about that.


'Used to'???

rip that dog...


Thats animal cruelty!!


Well I should hope so...


Well I should hope so...


thats nice...


Whattt? Now the dog is starving. Is the Duo owl next.to not eat?


If you've spent any time reviewing the comments on other exercises using the imperfect, you may have seen me decrying its translation using "used to". But unfortunately this particular sentence doesn't have any other element in it which indicates that this was a repetitive task. The ONLY THING that you are supposed to assume when you see used to in the translation of the imperfect is that the action was repeated in the past. The idea that the action no longer occurs is almost the antithesis of the meaning of the imperfect, since the imperfect is exactly the tense you would use to talk about a routine in the past that does still continue in the present. Obviously the other context in the conversation should explain why we are talking about this particular routine in the past and that will probably also answer the question as to whether or how that routine has changed. But this sentence ABSOLUTELY DOES NOT IMPLY that the friend no longer feeds the dog, let alone that the dog is starved.


is this not passive?


No. This is not passive voice. A passive voice sentence never has a direct object. Simply "letting" something happen doesn't qualify. This is just a Spanish set expression that means that he fed his dog. You can't even really make this sentence passive, at least I can't think how, but if you take this sentence as say My friend used to feed his dog, the passive version of that would be The dog used to be fed Since I am one that avoids using "used to" whenever possible for the imperfect, it also might be The dog was being fed.


Totally see why some Spanish speakers confuse "let" and "left." It's the same radical: dejar. Interesting.


Why is the infinitve "comer" not next to the conjugated verb "dejaba"?


"My friend let his dog eat" was accepted today 31st May 2020


Take a look at this extension for Duo. forum.duolingo.com/comment/38731989 It is really useful. Once you have submitted your answer it shows you all the alternative answers that would be/could be accepted. Also if you have got it wrong it highlights where it is wrong in your sentence, which will hopefully cut down on the "my answer should be accepted" submissions to Duo. I stress this is not a cheat because the alternatives only come up once you submit your answer.


They marked me correct previously for "mi amigo dejaba comer a su perro". But this time marked me incorrect for the same thing.


That happens from time to time. It can be that one of the instances was simply a Duo fluke where they mark something wrong which is correct. But when they add new translations to these quite complex databases of accepted answers, they can sometimes do so in a way that affects another answer without realizing it. They aren't really easily proofread. But your answer is correct. Whether it was, is or will be accepted at any point is never as clear.


Then try reporting it as correct.


Why not 'My friend used to let his dog eat'?


the translations for dejar in SpanishDict might suggest that he left the dog alone to eat?


Past tense of the verb to let is LET. It is OK to translate the sentence without "used to".


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.


My friend had cats and the dog ate the cat poop. My friend used to let his dog eat but the dog had such bad breath that he no longer allows it.


The sentences are getting weirder the further you get.


I answered right, because i knew what duolingo wants to hear. But in Argentina one would say; Mi amigo solia dejar a su perro comer


Having read the comments it's obvious this sentence is not good because it requires more info, but???? is it good for making us think?


I suppose it's not so much the context but understanding what has been said. But yeah poor little doggy lol


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.


I'm so glad that they used this sentence in a lesson. It helps us learn about the culture of people in Spanish speaking communities. Bravo Duo!


Living in the Spanish countryside, we sadly see this often.


..., but he stop allowing and the dog died.

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