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"We had things under control."

Translation:Teníamos las cosas bajo control.

3 years ago

18 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/cdhicks1
cdhicks1
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After all this time, I am confusing myself.

Teniamos seems to be they had 'possession' of the things, vs Habiamos they 'had control' of the things.

Thoughts? Guidance?

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/MeredithNa
MeredithNa
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You've posted this a year ago, so you probably already know this, but it's a good question so I'll reply anyway.

This is an English thing. Had (which is the past tense of have) is an auxiliary verb. Which means that you can use it either for a modal verb (must, do, ought to) and a lexical verb (run, dance, love).

The different between the two is that a modal verb is only there for grammar, and very rarely without another verb in the sentence (but they do exist). For example, it turns a sentence from obligation (I must run) to ability (I can run) to time (I will run). A lexical verb is an action. Such as run, count, smile and abstract verbs such as love.

Spanish uses haber for the modal version of have, and tener for lexical (the exception is "tener que" which is a good substitute for must).

So how do we know which one to use? If you can replace the had with a lexical word and the sentence makes grammatical sense, you use tener. "We drink things under control" "we smell things under control". Ok, these don't make any sense but the grammar still works. But if you replace it with a modal verb, ("we must things under control" "we ought to things under control") and as you can see, they don't really work. If it did work, you'd use haber.

I hope that helps!

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/yael8376

Thank you! Very useful :)

11 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Andrew.Gapski

My understanding is that haber is predominantly used for Past Perfect compound tenses which combine it with another verb, or used on its own for purposes of providing a description - Hay lluvia, Habia dos chicas en la calle, etc.

Tener, like you mentioned, can be used to demonstrate possession, or combined with another verb to describe the obligation to do something.

I used Tener here mainly because haber didn't seem like a good fit based on my understanding of the verb's uses.

I suppose that doesn't directly answer your question, but I find sometimes when people approach things from a different angle than I do, it may trigger something in the memory that will help me find an answer.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Majklo_Blic
Majklo_Blic
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To have control of something is a form of possession. Hence, tener.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/gmhewitt

I'm surprised about the "bajo". If a bridge is under construction, would it be "bajo construccion?

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Babella

I don't think so. "Bajo control" does translate as "under control", but in the "under construction" case, I have only heard "EN construcción".

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/hesolomon

Can "las" be omitted?

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/rogercchristie
rogercchristie
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Oh dear! Such an innocent-looking question ... :-o
I guess after you've waited patiently for 5 months I'd better try and answer it myself.


I have learned to be wary of Duolingo's interpretations which can often be an unreliable guide to how language is really used. I found some appropriate "real life" uses at linguee.com *.

Most of the examples use the definite article in Spanish but not in English, as in "las cosas bajo control" where the English says "things under control" without a "the".
I did find some other phrases which didn't use the definite article in either Spanish or English, like "esta cosa est à bajo control" ("this thing is under control"), "esconder cosas bajo la alfombra" ("swept things under the carpet"), "entre otras cosas" ("amongst other things"), and "mantener bajo control muchas cosas" ("keeping track of too much stuff").
And there is one sentence which appears to be be referring to "things" rather than "people", so it says "mantener "cosas" bajo control" / "getting "things" under control".

And of course we can find examples in English where sometimes we say "the" and sometimes we don't.
Here's one of the former: "It is not enough for them to simply learn from you, or to hear the things that you say." - "No es suficiente que ellos simplemente aprendan de usted, ni que escuchen las cosas que usted dice."
And one of the latter: "because things you say in your statement can be used against you" - "porque las cosas que dijiese en su declaración pueden ser usados en contra de usted".

So it seems the simple answer is "that's just the way we say it". The bottom line is that there may be "rules", but most of the time we just know what sounds right. And that leads into my recommendation: just keep "bashing on" and develop your ear for Spanish (or whatever) until you can hear whether it is OK or not.
And be reassured that if you add in or miss out "los/las" or "the" it probably won't matter. I have been bumbling along with my French for over fifty years and have rarely failed to communicate adequately.
And if it is an important document, it has never been easier to find someone to proof-read it for you, and at minimal cost if you are happy to proof-read their stuff in return! (And now all professional translators will hate me for ever for saying so! ;-) )

* References:
http://www.linguee.com/english-spanish/search?source=autoquery=cosas+bajo+control
http://www.linguee.com/english-spanish/search?source=autoquery=things+you+say

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/rogercchristie
rogercchristie
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"Tuvimos cosas bajo control" was marked wrong by DL, so omitting "las" was not accepted. I too would appreciate a reliable answer to hesolomon's question.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/NicoleGath
NicoleGath
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I'd like to know too! I omitted the "las" and got it wrong. I want to know why is necessary.

8 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Dmitry_Arch
Dmitry_Arch
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Can one say "Controlabamos cosas"?

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Casiquire

"We were controlling things..." it doesn't have exactly the same meaning. I doubt it would be accepted, but you might get away with it if you were in Spain and just couldn't think of another way to say it, and they all knew you weren't a native speaker.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/oeetown

Why isn't this tuvimos, "had" things under control would suggest a specific completed timeframe?

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/rogercchristie
rogercchristie
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Using preterite seems appropriate to me. Did DL mark it wong?

"tuvimos" was accepted by DL today (October 2016).

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/rterickson

Why is 'las cosas' bajo and not baja?

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/oeetown

because bajo is relevant to the word control in the sentence and not things.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/flavo02

Couldn't this sentence also be written "Teníamos todo controlado"

1 year ago