"Ellos no importan."
Translation:They do not matter.
"to import" is a transitive verb (requires a direct object), and "to matter" is an intransitive verb (no direct object).
"Ellos no importan" has no direct object, so it is the intransitive verb, "matter".
"Ellos no importan comida" (with "comida" being the direct object) would use the transitive verb: They do not import food.
that makes enough sense, thank you. But for the sake of knowledge, if you were discussing a company with a friend and wanted to say "they don't import" would it make sense because it's situational? I know it wouldn't be that hard to just add "no importan cosas", but I'm picky :P thanks for your help
"Import" is transitive, but that does not mean that the object must literally be in the sentence. "They do not import" is a perfectly grammatical sentence in English; in that case, the object is understood. (If "they" is a mattress company, the object is probably mattresses.) It's called an "implied object", and from what I've read--though I am a beginner--implied objects are used in Spanish as well. So ceaer's answer is actually irrelevant to surascoot's original question.
The answer to surascoot's question, I think, is that it's purely based on context and that "They do not import" should be an acceptable answer here. I may be wrong, and if I am, I hope someone tells me.
They exist, but their use is not common. (Although it would be correct. Normally the name is used, or if we know what we mean, it is removed and you're done. E.g. Las manzanas son rojas. Ellas son rojas (odd). Son rojas, (regular). Yes, I know it, my English is very bad, i'm sorry.
@ceaer - I had in mind "no son importantes," but from what I can tell, -ante isn't actually considered a "present participle" the way it is in Italian (or even in English when an -ing verb is used as an adjective, e.g. "The weeping angels"). I took Italian in college and expected Spanish to be just a little more like Italian than it actually is.
@GiovanniSantucci, that's just considered an adjective in Spanish AFAIK. "no son importantes" = "they are not important"
@ceaer - So I gathered. I'm curious though: do all verbs have such adjectives in Spanish? If so, it seems to work the exact same way as in Italian except for their name. In Italian, any verb can have the -are, -ere, or -ire (equivalent to the Spanish -ar, -er, and -ir) replaced with -ante for -are or -ente for -ere and -ire, and it functions exactly like an adjective but they call it the "present participle" of the verb (as opposed to the past participle which in Spanish is just the participle--and apparently Latin has a "future participle" but I never got that far in Latin).
There are two reasons I ask this. One is that I want to know whether I can simply do that with Spanish any time I would do it with Italian (which is any time in English that I would use an -ing as an adjective, as in the running river or the weeping angel or frustrating task or the belittling remark or whatever--can be done with virtually any verb, though some are way more common than others). The other reason is that I want to know whether I can think of it the same way as I do with Italian even though we don't use the term "present participle" in Spanish.
No, I don't believe Spanish has that feature, or at least not always.
Ex: weeping = lloroso or llorando (verb llorar)
But frustrating = frustrante (verb frustrar)
I'm not sure if there's a general rule about which verbs use the -ante ending and which have different adjectival forms.
Kind of stupid situation. In the last lesson we encountered the word "importar" for the first time and now in this example it suddenly represents the meaning important, while when you hover over the word with the mouse it says that it can be "matter" or "import", it even offers the conjugation of the verb. And of course, the answer "they do not import" is wrong, while both answers shoud be correct. Why didn't they write "ellos no son importante" instead then... duolingo is cool for learning but they always give examples with stupid context so you can never know what is correct.
Duolingo isn't perfect. A Dutch-speaking friend said that while looking at the Dutch language in DL, the phrase "I open the door" actually means "I crash through the door."
Importar might be one of those slippery words with many meanings, or it might occasionally be used wrong here.