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  5. "Quando passava lei diventava…

"Quando passava lei diventava rosso."

Translation:When she passed by he became red.

February 5, 2015



Could it also be that "lei" is the subject of "diventava" and mean:" when he passed by she became red"? How would you know which verb has "lei" for its subject?


well it says right in the sentence. you should divide it like this: quando passava lei-when she passed by; and diventava rosso-he became red (you know it's masculine because it says rosso,not rossa). i hope this explains something. :)


A little longer pause after "lei" would have been helpful.


it sure would, but italian is not very fond of commas. the sentence actually makes sense, it'll come to you naturally after some time.


Quando passava lei = When she passed by
diventava rosso = he became red


I'd have to live in Italy for a couple of years for anything Italian to become natural. Thanks for the explanation though.


Like German: you wait until the end of the sentence to to get it. But "diventava rosso" is better translated "blushed."


But "Blushed" in Italian is "arrossire."


Yes, it is. But when we translate into English, which of the following would you be happiest with?

She was painting the barn with a spray gun, and when she passed he became red.

He had already been in the sun too long, and she noticed when she passed by he was sunburned (became red).

When she passed by, he immediately converted to Soviet communism (became red).

When she passed by, he blushed (became red).

Etc. We might imagine other contexts to explain his color change, but Duo doesn't give us any. The English phrase "became red" has too many possible senses, and we should choose the one that is most likely, and state it in the best English we can muster rather than word-for-word conversion.

Because the Italian doesn't use the word "arrosire" is not sufficient reason to reject a sensible translation. Going the other way, "He flew down the street" would not be best translated by "volare" but by "correre" even though the English doesn't use the verb "sped."


Thanks. The funniest comment I ever seen in Duo.


when it comes to duolingo, we all know how it's safer to use more literal translations ;)


very helpful, thanks


How would you say "When he passed (by) her he turned red"


Easy. Add the preposition: Quando passava vicino lei diventava rosso. "Passare" has the sense of "pass by" but it's intransitive - no direct object - so "la passava" is not possible. But "near her" (where "lei" is the indirect object form) certainly is.


In this case it would be more than logical to use a comma in that sentence! "Quando passava lei, diventava rossi" I guess Italian has as few commas as English... we put them everywhere in Estonian :D


So do we in Croatian, and I said up there that it really would've been helpful, but once you analyse the sentence more carefully and realize that 'lei diventava rosso' just couldn't be a sentence because rosso is masculine, you see that there really is only one way the sentence could be understood. But it would be useful, that's for sure.


A comma would be appropriate in English, as well.


This explains it well. Thank you.


Yes, of course. Must be very attentive


19/7/2021: Thanks Anamarija. That is helpful.


This is not always the case, however. Italian often puts the subject pronoun at the end of a clause for emphasis--which would be entirely appropriate in a humorous sentence like this!


It confused me too


A comma is necessary.


Yea, this is confusing.


A comma might be helpful to a beginning learner, but it is not necessary. See the explanations at the start of this page.


why not 'when she was passing, he became red'?


why not turned red?


its absolutely correct considering the context, but 'diventava' means 'became' and after all this exercise is supposed to test your knowledge about verbs.


Yes, in America we say that someone turns " red rather than becomes red more often. I think that should be accepted too. Let's report it and see what happens.


Yes, in Britain also. "He became red" is simply not good colloquial English


People even say "going red" and "went red".


When I first read this I thought, "When she passed by it became red". It being a traffic light, semàforo, for example. Another possibility would be some sort of warning light, such as on a door to a restricted area. Are these also correct interpretations?


Why not When she would pass he would become red?


That eould require the conditional tense. This section /exercise is using the imperfect tense


You are right that English "would" sometimes must be translated into the Italian conditional tense (il condizionale). For example, in a sentence like this:
"If I were rich, I would buy her a car."

However, use of "would" in English is not always conditional. That is, it does not always trigger a translation into the Italian conditional tense . For example, consider this English sentence:
"When the water was warm, we would swim for hours".

In the sentence above, the use of "would" does not signal the conditional but rather repetitive or customary action. The correct translation into Italian is therefore the imperfect (l'imperfetto dell'indicativo).


Is passava followed by lei just to emphasize that it is a female who's passing and do we always add the pronoun after the verb in cases such as this?


it's better to think that the verb (almost) always follows 'quando' directly. then everything else follows the verb.


The Italian sentence is in imperfetto. Why duo translation is in simple past?


English does not make the same distinctions in verb tense as Italian does. One often uses the simple past in English to describe ongoing or habitual situations.

For example: "Whenever she passed by, he grew red." This is an habitual situation and so would be imperfetto in Italian, but in English the simple past here is quite idiomatic.


....... so if he became red, why does it not read "quando passava l u i diventava rosso ???"


Edith, take a look at the other comments on this page. The second clause does not require the 'lui' to communicate that 'he' is becoming red, because the masculine ending on the adjective 'rosso' suffices for that.

On the other hand, the opening words, 'quando passava', do not by themselves determine whether their subject is male or female. That clause therefore cries out for a clarifying subject. So it is natural to interpret the pronoun that follows those words as the subject of the first clause, not as the subject of the second clause.

So the DuoLingo sentence with 'lei' means 'As she passed by, he became red'; and your suggested sentence means 'As he passed by, he became red'.

In speaking the Italian, there would be a pause between the two clauses, like this: Quando passava lei [pause] diventava rosso.


Thank you very much, very nicely explained! Have a nice day!


Would "quando LEI passava.." also be possible? Or has LEI to follow? Can anybody tell a rule?Thanks!


By translating into Italian I wrote "Quando lei passava lui diventava rosso." and this was accepted by Duo. But even though it seems grammatically and literally right, I guess that "Quando passava lei diventava rosso." Or even "Quando passava lei diventava rosso lui." sounds better for an italian ear. The last sentence is emphasising the lui, meaning he turned red while somebody else did not in the same situation.


why isn't it "quando lei passava, diventava rosso?

Or, even in the current iteration, quando passava lei diventava rosso:

can't that be translated, When she passed she became red? Or when she passed she blushed? How do we know there are two people in this sentence?


quando passava = when he/she/it/You passed

Then to make it perfectly clear, and put emphasis on who is passing, we can add 'lei' first or last in the sentence, - but should avoid inserting it.

Lei quando passava = When she passed = Quando passava lei

Quando passava lei = when she passed by
diventava rosso = he became red

Ergo: When she passed he became red.


Why are both verbs conjugated? I thought the second verb should remained in the the infinitive form?


When the verbs are in separate clauses, both verbs are conjugated. Just as in English:
When she walkS buy, he blusheS.

In Italian, just as in English, some sentences include an infinitive phrase, some include a subordinate clause, and some have only one verb:
1. I drank the wine to relax.
2. I drank the wine that my sister gave me.
3. I drank too much of the wine.

One difference between Italian and English is that Italian does not always explicitly state subject pronouns. That may make it harder for a learner to recognize individual clauses.


Why is "lei" necessary here?


The "lei" is there to tell you that this sentence is about two different subjects. The first clause is about a female -- the "lei" tells you that. The second clause is about a male -- the "rosso" tells you that.

Look at the sentence without the "lei":
Quando passava diventava rosso.

Can you see that the translation of that sentence would be (or at least most probably would be) "When he passed by he turned red"?


How is this past imperfect?

  1. "passava" is the third person singular past imperfect form of the verb "passare"
  2. past imperfect is used in Italian to describe an ongoing or habitual action in the past
  3. In the English we are given here, Duo uses the conjunction "when". That is permissible in English, but it would have been better to use "whenever": "Whenever she passed by, he became red". That makes the ongoing/habitual nature of the action clearer.


The intonation is confusing. The pause is after passava and not after lei. That makes it seem like it should be Rossa and not Rosso. Quando passava, lei divantava rossa. Quando passava lei, diventava rosso.


When I press the audio button at the top of this page, I hear the sentence said correctly. That is, I hear a slight pause AFTER "lei". Moreover, I hear a slight emphasis or stress on "lei" that leads me to feel that the "lei" belomgs with "passava".

Try listening from this page several times and see if you don't agree.


Why isn't SHE blushed accepted?


Spinneweber, your question has been asked and answered several times already on this very page. Are you having trouble reading previous comments before posting?

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