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  5. "Non posso fare niente."

"Non posso fare niente."

Translation:I cannot do anything.

September 2, 2013

40 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Lodoviko

How does one say in Italian, "I can't do nothing!" There are situations when this is a perfectly reasonable exclamation. Thanks again, Duolinguists!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Viaggiatore

I would go for a triple negative: Non posso non fare niente. Or non posso oziare.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jpandthebooks

my poor brain, thanks! (Also love the literal translation, "I can't not do nothing" = "I have to do nothing!")


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PazKe

Why not 'I cannot make anything'?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DalekCaan99

That should be accepted. Report it.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rhonue
  • 2243

Why not "I cannot do nothing"?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/dnovinc

Because that is not good English (double negative = positive). So "I cannot do nothing" would mean "I can do something." The Italian sentence can be translated as: "I cannot do anything." or "I can do nothing."


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jpandthebooks

Eactly. I can't do nothing! I must do something!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/John_Swede

I'm not sure that's how everyone is using this expression. To me "I cannot do nothing" is like "I cannot stand there doing nothing", which is semantically very different from "I can stand there doing something".

However, I thank Viaggiatore for "Non posso non fare niente."


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MarkDeVernon

Unfortunately, this is not correct: in certain constructions, double negatives are possible, and this is one such. Imagine that someone is in difficulty and you want to help — "I cannot do nothing"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/conradsteenkamp

I cannot do nothing may not be 'good' English, but it is colloquial English in places.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jaycarlyle

Suggest that in spoken English "I can't do nothing." implies "I MUST do something."


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mangoHero1

Can doesn't mean must.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/HLSESQ

Why was "I can't make anything" rejected?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/GuerraAmanda

People... "I can do nothing"?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Jae633849

Non è vero, Duo, puoi parlare tutte le lingue! Quello non è roba da poco!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/marierose.4

niente = nothing and not anything


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SusanSchuur

What's wrong with I'm not able to do anything?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tommung

I am not able to do anything is the same as I cannot do anything


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/gmbotello13

how come "i am not able to do anything" is not accepted??


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/hilaryllewellyn

I'm sure "I am not able to do anything" or "I am unable to do anything" should be accepted. I'll report it!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Remy000

Could it be, non posso fare nulla?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/iyphd
  • 1527

Parlare per te stesso


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MarySeltze

The owl seems depressed.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Will243093

I can't do anything was rejected.?!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Pat590727

How would you say 'I can't do nothing'? -- i.e. I can't just stand by and do nothing?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Muttley_

That's convoluted in Italian: non posso non fare niente.
Triple negative :-)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Pat590727

How then do you say 'I can't do nothing'?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Muttley_

Isn't this the exact same sentence as your previous comment?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TimDiggle
  • Dolce fare niente = (It is) sweet to do nothing

  • Posso fare niente = I can do nothing (eg. I cannot prevent it)

  • Non posso fare niente = I cannot do nothing (ie. I cannot stand there and let it happen)

  • Non posso fare nulla = I cannot do anything

Please tell me if my logic is wrong! I have a degree in French and Italian, spent time at Milan University (albeit over 40years ago) and disagree with D/L.

This sentence is at best ambiguous and I believe should be dropped.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Muttley_

Posso fare niente (odd sentence) means 'I am allowed to do nothing'.

Non posso far niente/nulla both mean 'I can't do anything'.

Non posso non fare niente is the one you should use for your 'I cannot stand there and let it happen'.

The use of the double negative is very common in Italian and it needs to be understood so it would not be a good idea to drop this kind of sentences.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TimDiggle

Thank you - I see what you mean and things are coming back to me after sitting in my head, unused, for many years.

I suspect I have been over-thinking this one (a common fault of mine) and I need to dig out my old Italian novels to get back into the swing......


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Caperucita804455

When I first read this, I assumed it meant "it is not possible for me to do nothing", in other words "I have to do something". What would you say if you saw a crime being committed and you could report it, for example?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Muttley_

This question has been asked (and answered) in the very first comment of this page.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mezza253425

Why is my answer wrong when niente means nothing. Which is what i said

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