"My cat likes my keyboard."
Translation:Al mio gatto piace la mia tastiera.
I have to better learn the placement of beginning articles like the "al" in this sentence.
You need to make "il mio gatto" the object with the addition of "a". Think of it this way: the verb "piacere" means something like "to be pleasing" and therefore, it requires an object. If you use the object pronouns "mi" "ti", etc. the "to" part is already included. However, if you use a noun instead of a pronoun (or if you use the pronouns "me" "te", "lui", "lei", etc.), you need to add "a" beforehand to convert it to the object form. Therefore, to construct this sentence in Italian, you need to first convert "My cat likes my keyboard" to "My keyboard is pleasing to my cat" in order to know what verb and other words to use. Then, the usual construction for these sentences in Italian seems to be "To [the object of piacere] is pleasing [the subject of piacere]".
(I can only guess that perhaps the reason the other construction order would be wrong is because maybe piacere is also reflexive to a certain extent? But honestly I'm not sure about that part.)
But, to help you remember the order to use it, think of it in the order you would use with a pronoun instead of a noun: "Mi piace la mia tastiera". This literally means "to me is pleasing my keyboard". If you replace "mi" with another noun, you still have to make sure the other components are there and in the same order. So "to my cat is pleasing my keyboard" which becomes "Al mio gatto piace la mia tasteria". :-)
So there is no way to form this sentence with a clitic ( Lo, La ) without using "a"?
Sorry for the long-winded response...
Normally, sure, if we knew the context, for example:
Il mio gatto è un problema. Gli piace la mia tastiera.
Remember, piacere, and other verbs like it, are in essence, different than English. Idiomatically, it means the same thing, however there is no literal translation of "I like you" or in this case "My cat likes my keyboard".
You really need to take "X like(s) Y" and think of it differently in Italian: "Y is pleasing to X".
In english X is the subject and Y is the direct object. In Italian, Y is the subject, and X is the indirect object.
This is why you use 'a' along with the indirect object. If you wanted to replace the word with the proper indirect object pronoun, you certainly can, assuming you have the context.
I said "La mia tastiera piace al mio gatto." and it was wrong. I hope for a good reason...
[UPDATE June 2015: The assertions made in this comment are either partially or completely incorrect. Please disregard them for now, and/or see dhunteroz' comment below.]
That phrase would probably be understood, but it's still not how Italians would say it.
Picture the tables being turned by someone with poor English skills saying "the keyboard, my cat likes". You would understand what he/she meant, but it would still sound ridiculous.
Or it would sound like "My keyboard is liked by my cat", which is less common but fine. So yeah it should be accepted. Another example sentence: "a te piace quanto piace a me" = "You like it as much as I do". So when you use "a" the order is flexible. Correct if I'm wrong.
Good point. Thanks for the correction.
Looking back at my year-old comment and having learned a lot since it was posted, it seems - depending on emphasis and personal preference - that treszter's proposed word order could indeed be both valid and applicable to colloquial Italian.
Please disregard my previous comment for now and/or consult a fluent speaker. All I know now is that I don't (and didn't) really know :)
That is exactly the correct answer i was given. I had omitted a (il instead of al).
Because. Il mio gatto is " the my cat". Al mio gatto is "to my cat". When something is pleasing "piacere" it needs to be "to" something .
Would Italians consider 'la mia' in front of tastiera in this sentence redundant and leave it out?
After thinking about it I'm guessing it wouldn't be considered redundant since there are two different objects that are mine in this sentence.
I don't think the second possessive is needed, at least from my experiences.
You don't need gli in the sentence if you're specifying the subject. It's redundant.
[Tu] mi piaci ( or A me piaci) and [Lui] gli piace (or A loro piace) respectively.
They're the same, just the stressed (a me, a loro) and unstressed (mi,gli) forms of the indirect object pronoun. In my area of Umbria, for example, many of the locals use the stressed form ( a me, etc.) in normal speech for some reason I don't know.
Seeing how you know quite a lot mind if I bother you with a question?
Gli leggo... one can translate that as "I read to him/it", right? But can't it also be translated to "I read to THEM"? If so, how is one supposed to differentiate between the two?
This turned up in a practice. First time I'd ever seen "al". I assume its a clitic; but if the lessons arent even introducing the words they're supposed to be teaching, and just shoving them into the practice rotation, that's a piss poor lesson plan.
It's not the first time I've seen this either. Words, phrases, and grammatical rules are left out of the sections where they're supposed to be introduced but are put into practice sessions. There they only show up incredibly rarely - far too infrequently, and without any initial in-depth introduction, to be of any use in learning them.