"Eu não pedi que ele achasse o meu bolo."
Translation:I did not ask him to find my cake.
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I didn't ask that he find my cake. (formal)
I did not ask him to find my cake. (less formal)
Correct English expression of the past-contrary-to-fact mood using the subjunctive sounds stuffy to many English speakers, but I would rather use the English subjunctive than the informal infinitive in these exercises. However, I won't dare, because Duolingo always errs in favor of the less correct, more popular expression.
Which of these two answers is correct "I did not ask him to find my cake" or "I did not ask him what he thought of my cake" or is there any possibility it could mean both? I answered the former and was judged correct, but I wonder if the second sentence is more likely to be what was meant..
It has to do with the "sequence of tense." In most cases, the preterit in the main clause triggers the past imperfect in the subordinate clause: pedi -> achasse.
This sounds as if it were an idiom, sort of like telling someone to mind their own business - am I right?
In the subjunctive, the base verb "find" doesn't change.
I ask that he find my cake.
I asked that he find my cake.
I didn't ask that he find my cake.
Duolingo seems to have a real problem with subjunctive in English, and it could mislead some students. This sentence is incorrectly translated; it should be "I did not ask that he find my cake". Especially since, in the Portuguese, it is not specified whether the person was asked directly, whereas in the English (incorrect) translation it is.