I'm not sure that's true though. In American English, gas is short for gasoline, which very specifically refers to petrol. There is another word, 'gas', that has a similar meaning (but not encompassing, as gasoline is in fact not gaseous at room temperature/pressure).
In contrast, fuel is a word that both exists in the UK and US that has a much broader meaning than 'benzina', corresponding to 'combustibile' in Italian. And being a UK native, if someone told me their car needed more fuel, it's not certain even in context that they mean petrol rather than diesel. If there were a subdefinition for fuel in a UK dictionary referring directly to petrol, I would be more inclined to agree.
Yeah, I was being slightly facetious with gas, though I grant it's more specific than fuel.
That said, my issue is really one of register. Would an Italian ever say "La macchina è senza combustibile." if they were out of petrol? If so, then you're probably right, but if not I think the shared colloquiality of the two phrases trumps a slight difference in meaning.
In Australia (perhaps the UK too?), "fuel" is quite tightly coupled to petrol. If you were to say "Have you seen the price of fuel lately?", no-one's going to be in the slightest bit of doubt that you're talking about petrol.
On the flip side, is it really the case in the US (or Italy) that if you had a diesel car, you would never say "I'm out of gas." (or "La benzina è finita.")?
(Hopefully EVs soon make this whole discussion redundant. :) )
True ckay59 but most everyone-- at least everyone in the US-- would shorten it to "gas" even for the station that sells it: gas station. Lots of words are shortened which doesn't make them incorrect, it only makes them alternatives which are more or less appropriate depending on the context.
Speaking as an American; That's correct, but a bit pedantic. Most people will read social cues and context to determine what you meant.
e.g. The work day ends, you stretch and say you're out of gas. I will assume you mean you're tired. You get out of your car and tell me you're out of gas, I will assume your car has no gasoline.
I think these are local variations, as is "benzene" in English. Pure liquid benzene consists of hexagonal shaped molecules each containing six carbon and six hydrogen atoms. There are only weak forces between different molecules, so benzene evaporates quite readily (and causes most of the sweet smell at the petrol/gasoline pump). Benzene is an important part of petrol/gasoline as its presence improves the ability of the (petrol/gasoline + air) mixture to withstand high compression in this type of engine and to not self-detonate before the right moment in the engine cycle - at the introduction of a spark.
A few (improper) prepositions are formed like this: it's a remnant of their origin (senza comes from absentia and it required a genitive).
- "Senza" is used with "di" when followed by a personal or demonstrative pronoun (e.g. senza di te, senza di questo) -- but it's not wrong to omit "di";
- "Su" and "sopra" are used with "di" when followed by a personal pronoun or an indeterminate article (e.g. su di te, su di una collina) -- in the latter "di" can be omitted but not in the former;
- "Contro" is used with "di" when followed by a personal pronoun (e.g. contro di me) -- here too it shouldn't be omitted.
There are probably others I'm not recalling; there are also other cases for prepositions using "a".
So in your opinion it should be "La macchina è senza olio/carburante" in Italian version, for diesel cars? :) In my opinion "benzina" means any kind of petrol/fuel in this case and if petrol is accepted, then fuel should also be. Any kind of distinction in this case doesn't make any sense in every day usage of language. In reality everbody would say "The car is out of fuel" or "out of petrol/gas". Nobody would say "The car is out of diesel" or "diesel fuel".
I've never heard "la macchina è senza diesel" either; possibly "senza gasolio" (never "senza olio", that would be interpreted as motor oil/grease, not any kind of fuel). "Senza carburante" is pretty common, and it's a direct translation of fuel, who why not use it? This sentence might not be as common in English speaking countries as it is in the few Italian speaking ones (perhaps because petrol was the most common fuel for a long time), and you're free to use a more idiomatic translation in the immersion section, but this lesson is teaching the word "benzina", not "carburante", and I see no reason to mix the meanings.
Languages are funny things; "car" comes from a Celtic word (through French, Latin and Gaulish - Italian "carro") meaning "cart", which on the other hand has a Germanic origin. That's not to say the word didn't follow the object in both cultures though. Originally cars were called "automobiles", and in Italian "automobile" and its shortening "auto" are still pretty common; you're right that "macchina" is the most common way to refer to a car (both come from "macchina automobile", self moving machine). However it can also be used to refer to a machine; in IT it commonly refers to a computer, and there are many electric objects that are colloquially called "macchinetta".
Benzina is petrol; "gas" is just a common shortening of gasoline in AE. And no, you can't use it for other fuels.
- Benzina = petrol (British English) / gasoline (American English)
- Miscela = petroil (or 2-stroke oil, the fuel for 2-stroke engines)
- Gasolio (often called diesel) = Diesel fuel
- GPL = LPG (or LP gas)
- Gas = gas (it usually refers to either LPG or methane)
- Petrolio = petroleum (or crude oil)
- Combustibile = fuel
- Carburante = technically internal combustion fuel like gasoline, but often used as "fuel for an engine"
Couldn't "la macchina" be any machine? A scooter? A lawn mower? A generator? Without context, why would we assume the speaker is referring to a car rather than 'any' machine that uses gas? Is "la macchina" the most commonly used word for car in Italian? Or is there another word we haven't learned as yet?
I'm unfortunately unfamiliar with British English which i'm assuming would commonly refer to a car as you say, but in America at least it'd sound very strange. But, if that's a natural and current phrase for an automobile elsewhere then I agree that it should certainly be accepted.
jemlush: In the US car's run on gas. Hardly anyone uses the longer term "gasoline", though on occasion you'll hear talk of a 'gasoline shortage', 'gasoline embargo', etc. There's even a verb form "to gas up". Service stations advertise "GAS". Automobile manuals talk about the "gas tank" or the "gas cap" and hardware stores sell "gas cans" to fill for use in boats or lawn mowers or other gas-run tools. Here in the US, no one says 'petrol'. I agree that DL should consider this term to be correct usage as you say, but it's not the only term that's correct. A great phrase for you to learn would be: "Non è meglio, non è peggio, è diverso".
Most parts of the world understand the word 'gas' to be LPG or liquid petroleum gas. Cars do run on LPG and in Australia they call it gas which is distinctly different to the stuff that those in the USA colloquially call 'gas' but is not actually gas from a scientific point of view. Liquid vs solid vs gas. Think on that for a bit. I am not saying it is wrong, just that it is a colloquial word and therefore DL should not use it as the only available choice when we must click on tiles to translate.
fendavo: As I posted earlier, I totally agree with you that DL should not require/suggest "gas" as the "only available choice" since obviously other users, maybe even most users, refer to it by other names. btw: can I say that following this thread has been a gas? ok, off topic, but I couldn't resist.
Just a few notes. If you want to buy fuel in Italy, make sure you have cash in low denomination banknotes. A lot of Service Stations are fully automatic, and although they will accept some debit cards, overseas debit cards generally do not work. I've also noticed signs saying Aperta when the service station is actually closed. Your best chance of finding one open is the Servizi on the Autostrada, especially approaching airports in major cities.
You can use cash at almost any service station that has automatic dispensers. Use low denomination notes (5 Euro) because they don't reliably give change when your tank is full. If you're returning a rental car, even if it's a couple of dollars short of being full, you should be ok.
Almost any service station that is attended will take credit cards, and contactless cards from outside Europe finally work! (Careful - the cost per litre sometimes increases if assisted)
You might find that your credit card works on a machine in an unattended service station but be aware that skimmers have been active recently, especially in and around Milan. You could easily be robbed.
winterdragonfly: My parents immigrated from Southern Italy and always used the word "macchina" for car; in fact when they and my other relatives spoke English they would literally translate the word into English as "machine" when referring to a car, as in "We just bought a new machine." Growing up I never heard any of the older (Southern) Italians use the word 'automobile' or for that matter even 'car.'
I agree with you nekogaijin, Athmel, and germanlehrerlsu. I am not saying gas is wrong. It is just that marking gasoline wrong (for which "gas" is short) doesn't seem fair. Now that is pedantic. I am also an American and live in the USA and both "gas" and "gasoline" are used.
darrenc: That may be fine in many English speaking countries, but in the States, no one would say that but someone from one of those other English speaking countries. Here it's : 'the car is out of gas'. It doesn't matter one bit what 'gas' means in Italy or how it's understood there.
Having being born, educated and lived in Italy until a couple of years ago, I can assure you that only in very few locutions does "gas" mean "fuel" or "petrol" in Italian: the only one I could think of is "dare gas", meaning pressing the throttle pedal, but Treccani also reminded me of "a tutto gas", meaning "full power", and "gas di scarico", the exhaust gas (which isn't fuel anyway). The answer does accept petrol,. but in my opinion fuel is something much more generic, as it applies to Diesel as well as petrol.
Of course DL should accept all of those. From the way you'd phrased it,however, it sounded as though fuel and petrol were the only two choices you felt were appropriate. If you reread what it was you wrote, namely: "this particular question should read either the car is out of petrol or the car is out of fuel." -- Either/Or didn't seem to allow for 'gas" which I stressed was how we'd express it in the states.
Nancy: yes, essere senza X is correct. Note though how in your example you didn't use 'essere' you used 'avere" so what you wrote would be incorrect. It should be: "sono senza zucchero." In other words you didn't write : I am without (out of) sugar. You wrote I HAVE without (out of) sugar.
jenaldrije: I've been marked wrong in the past for the same "mistake". DL usually doesn't accept nouns and verbs apostrophized. Pronouns are ok: It's, She's, He's, etc. Nouns though are considered incorrect though they're clearly used in everyday speech and casual writing too. "Duolingo's" got to find a way to allow for colloquial speech.