Translation:You cannot build houses in this zone.
The impersonal "si" is often used with an intended passive meaning, i.e. this sentence could be translated as "houses can't be built in this area"; in such cases the verb is conjugated accordingly with the intended subject (houses). It gets weirder if the sentence is formed by essere+predicate, because then the verb is to the singular and the predicate to the plural: "si deve essere buoni".
Would: "houses cannot be built in this area" be an acceptable or more accurate translation?
Did that explain why it isn't "non si posso" for "I cannot", and not "non si posssono" for "they cannot"?
It would be "non posso" for "I cannot". This kind of construct (passive si) can only be used with a transitive verb and an intended subject in the third person, either singular or plural: http://www.zanichellibenvenuti.it/wordpress/?p=4024 is a very good reference for this, although all in Italian.
This all seems overly complicated for no valid reason. Wouldn't "Non si poter costruire case in questa zona" remove the confusion, especially if what is being conveyed is "you cannot" or "one cannot?" To introduce a plural conjugation of the verb into the sentence appears to be intentionally and, more important, unnecessarily obtuse. Am I wrong?
Still houses implies "they cannot" =possono not you? Why not puoi if "you" is intended??
it's saying houses can't be built here. but in italian, they is conjugated. In english you use "you". In French "one", in Italian "they"
Sorry, I understand the stuff about it being impersonal and passive, but in English we use "You can't build"; "Houses can't be built"; "they can't build" pretty much interchangeably, but "they can't build" was marked as wrong. (we would rarely use the technically correct "one can't build")
I tried 'It's not allowed to build houses in this zone', 'cause DL gives 'allowed to' in hints for 'possono'. But it was marked wrong. And I can't figure out why. I guess it's correct in English to say so.. confused
It's not allowed is incorrect. We would just not use it this way in English. To build houses in this zone IS NOT ALLOWED. No "it" in there. Hope this helps.
Semantically this is correct, it should have been accepted to my opinion. Did you report it ?
What the difference between using the imperative here "Non potere costruire" and the impersonal or passive "Non si possono costruire"?
Could this also mean, "They cannot build themselves houses in this zone?" And if not, how would that be written?
Would it be wrong to say: It is not allowed to build houses in this zone?
Or maybe 'it is not possible to build houses in this zone', because maybe the terrain would not be proper. I just don't think the English 'you cannot' is close enough to the Italian nuance of the sentence.