1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Spanish
  4. >
  5. "Es un doble agente."

"Es un doble agente."

Translation:He is a double agent.

December 19, 2012

125 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/rocko2012

I wrote "It is a double agent" Duolingo says the answer is "He is a double agent" Either "agent" in Spanish cannot be an "it" or maybe the sentence needs to be "Él es un doble agente" I guess "It is a double agent" could be bad English too.


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

Well, in English we don't use it anymore when speaking about animals so even if you are talking about a dog it would still be he/she is a double agent. Now you might say about your teddy bear, "It is a double agent." but it still doesn't make a lot of sense.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ryan.fleming

Exactly, no less a double agent very clearly implies a human. In Spanish es is gender neutral, therefore the correct translation in English would be "he" which is the standard pronoun when the gender is unknown. (actually the un instead of una seems to imply that it is in fact a male double agent.)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/rocko2012

I was thinking chemistry when I translated it to "it".
Agent, a : something that produces or is capable of producing an effect : an active or efficient cause b : a chemically, physically, or biologically active principle "agente químico" = "chemical agent". I'm filing a report if I see this sentence again :)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/laurel541478

So would a double agent in chemistry be a reagent? Lol


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

Love your gsoh. You got to that one before I did.


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

But would you refer to a chemical agent as being a "double agent"? (And is this an idiomatic phrase en Español?) I wouldn't question that elsewhere, but double agent generally has the implication "spy" in English.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/rocko2012

http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jo00130a040 Yeah it seems logical if something has two actions and you wanted to point that out. "agente" also carries the meaning in Spanish of a "chemical agent". So it probably could be used in Spanish the way I was using it. Granted only chemists talking about chemistry would understand it that way.


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

Taking "Es" as "It is": I agree that it could be something like a soap or detergent molecule which has very different properties at the two ends, enabling oil and water to mix when otherwise they would not do so. However I think this to be quite a specialist translation and most would use "He is" or "She is" (depending on the indefinite article given) in this type of sentence [Es + un/una + Noun + Adjective] if the noun can be a human.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Cordell.au

Merriam Webster's usage guide notes that "they" as third person singular is acceptable in even formal writing and is of long and continuous use. Default "he" was a project of meddling grammarians centuries ago and is waning in popularity and usage.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MattPotter4

Default ¨he¨reflect the influence that latin and the romance languages, esp french, had in the formation of modern English. No meddling needed. It is only waning now because of the meddling of gender politics despite the use of ´they´ being deceptive (should be possible to indicate plurality) and ´he´(or ´she´, for all I care) being very efficient when used to represent the generic.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JGarrick62

Un doesn't imply anything regarding the gender of the person. It's the gender of the noun agente.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/amble2lingo

No, JGarrick62. The noun "agente" can be masculine or feminine - el agente = the male agent, la agente = the female agent. So, un agente = a male agent and una agente = a female agent.


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

In english when it's gender nuetral you use "they". Isn't usted/es for that?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MattPotter4

Deaconlyric--No. ¨Usted¨ is you, ¨ustedes¨ is you all. ¨They¨ would be ellas or ellos but you do not need use pronouns so the basic third person VERBS are gender nuetral (or rather inclusive of all). eg ¨quiere¨ can be ¨he¨ or ¨she¨ or ¨you¨(formal) want....


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/George_Gibson_77

I'm not sure what you mean by gender-neutral, but ellos can refer to all men or a combination of men and women. Ellas can only refer to all women.


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

Matt, Entonces, él quiere / ella quiere ......................... ellos quieren / ellas quieren ¿Verdad?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Usagiboy7

deaconlyric,

I haven't yet encountered it used that way. (But, that doesn't say much. I'm still new to Spanish.) However, I have seen some native speakers using x for certain words, in place of O or A. For example, "Latinx" (pronounced, Latinex.) It is a very controversial matter though (As changes in language often are, especially when concerning changes for the purpose of including minority groups.) For example, English users who felt that a gender neutral pronoun was an important endeavor have already tested over 100 alternatives. But, these did not succeed for various reasons. One of the big ones was pressure from dominant groups against changing the language, another was because many of these forms were "new" and people didn't want to adjust. Since "They" was already part of the popular nomenclature, unlike many of the others, it was easier to adopt into usage. The adjustment was less extreme. Even so, there was a lot of push back for it as well. But, it appears to be succeeding. ^_^)


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

deaconlyric, about English, of course ( ! ) // usted = you [formal] // It seems that the only way the sentence, as DL originally wrote it, makes sense to some of us is "in a surprised way" : "(Oh my!) ... It's a double agent!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Usagiboy7

Ah, I thought they were asking if one person could be referred to 3rd person with "usted" or "ustedes" in place of El/Ella.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Valecia16

Ahhhhh this was a great answer. The UN was the give away it was male. Thanks


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Elle760272

You could also use "they"


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

But you could say "It's a double agent!" as in a spy whatever, like the commander or something just realized why all their movements are being read. In this case it's is more referring to 'the reason for this is' and not to the person themself.


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

-Who's there? -It's a double agent! Open the door, please.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MattPotter4

Yes, referring to the agent of the change or situation you have observed being (politically) a double agent rather than the specific entity that caused it.

If , as an actor, you have an agent who promises to be only and exclusively your agent but puts you in a difficult situation by also being the agent of a rival of yours then is not the agent of the problem your double agent agent? Would this annoy you knowing that that had had impacts that that had not needed to have had, had you not had that double agent agent? (No wonder we all love English!)


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

Matt, This is "good material" ...!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Joe238441

I like where you're going with this... Maybe it's a Hollywood agent who specializes in stunt doubles! Or better yet, maybe Q cloned James Bond!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Cordell.au

Livestock are routinely "it", even when the sex is known. It's a mare, it's a ewe, it's a ram, it's a stallion. Beloved household animals are another matter.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/amble2lingo

What about birth announcements? "It's a boy!" "It's a girl!"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Mimi23

What about if you don't like babies? "How is it? The baby, I mean?" "Look at it's eyes!" "It has such a big forehead!" ... Only if you don't actually know the gender, of course.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MattPotter4

The ¨human¨ is a fickle animal, it is most devious and obnoxious.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tflores3

"...in English we don't use it anymore..." is a false statement. It is still common and proper in the English language to call animals "it". If you know the gender then you can state him or her, but not necessary.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/tx91791

I don't know what english you speak. My english uses "it" for animals.


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

US English speaker here. To be funny, clever or witty, I call my own grandchildren "it" but only in jest! If one of the little ones comes up with dirty hands, I might say to their mom, "You clean "it" up!" It's all in good fun! (Winks) But I do hear people refer to animals as "it" all the time. Gracias


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

"they" can be used as a gender neutral singular pronoun in this instance


[deactivated user]

    they is singular??


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

    Generally it is plural, but in this case it can mean a single person. The only other exception of a plural pronoun being used in the singular is "the royal we." Members of royalty can refer to themselves in the first person plural, even if there is only one of them!


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

    Actually there's a history regarding the T-V distinction (in Spanish, tú vs. usted) in early modern English (think Shakespeare, the KJV). If I remember correctly, "ye/you" (I won't swear those are in case order Nom, Obj) was the formal and plural second person pronoun, and "thou/thee" was actually informal.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/shevin3

    I call an animal an it.


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

    it would be fine with the right context. Say you just realized that there is information leaking from your institution but all of your security measures are intact. there's only one answer "Its a double agent!"


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Marie282520

    "La trama se complica." That means, according to google, "the plot thickens". If the agent takes to hiding in bushes, or among them, I would take it as a sign of serious serious problems with his bladder or else....ta dum te dum dum...my may be a double agent. Not conclusive. But it can get worse. WE thought we hit bottom, but La trama se complica. For the newest soap opera of all: Among the bushes. Very ironic name, I think.


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

    I agree, I can see how that can be confusing. However, when I asked a native speaker he said that 'es' means he/she/it is ('ser' form). Hope that helps!


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

    The verb is not the issue. The issue is the indefinite article. "Un" is male, yes? If so, why is "HE is a double agent" wrong? If its not wrong then duolingo is wrong, and the correct answer could be any of "He, she or it", then it should be corrected and this discussion closed off.

    I would really like a definitive answer. Is "HE is a double agent" wrong and if so why? Specifically, why is the male indefinite article used if the answer is definitely: "SHE is a double agent"?


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

    "He is a double agent" is not wrong. If you wanted to say "She is a double agent" then you would use the indefinite article "una" instead of "un". As I said, earlier, "es" CAN be used for he/she/it, and the translation could have been improved if the pronoun "él" was at the beginning to specify gender, though it is not necessary. I am sorry if my other comment was not clear, does this help?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kelly.wolf2

    Perhaps duo just needs to place less emphasis on the pronoun if there is no apparent gender.


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

    I agree with this reasoning. I just put "is a double agent" since there wasn't an "el".


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

    Cosmo, I like your thinking. In fact, in the language I work in (Esperanto) the pronoun can be omitted. In English, however, we need a subject, in this case a pronoun. :)


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sguthrie1

    A "double agent" is a type of spy.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Usagiboy7

    A double agent pretends to work as a spy for one government/agency while really working for the enemy.

    It's also a chemisty term. :)


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sguthrie1

    To develop the concept further:

    "Double agent" is a spy craft term. It refers to a spies who has been "turned" to spy back on their "handlers".

    For example, if Trump fled to Russia to seek refuge, and the Russians trusted him, he could become a "double agent" and in turn spy on the Russians.

    As any good conspiracy theorist knows, the current Trump situation is a plot set up by the CIA to trick Russia into accepting Trump so he would, in turn, be a double agent. As part of this, Trump is working with the CIA, although pretending he believes it is incompetent. And under this theory, Trump is an extremely competent, rational person who is using the Russians..

    To make this conspiracy theory even more convoluted, we could make trump into a transgender person.

    Aren't conspiracy theories fun?


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

    probably a dumb question but, since doble is the adjective, why not "agente doble"?


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

    There are no dumb questions! =)

    Limiting adjectives, like numbers, are placed before the noun. This link provides useful general information about adjective placement as well as a couple great lists, e.g. "limiting adjectives". Enjoy!!


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

    One simply does not just say this. You're not supposed to know he's a double agent!


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/smiller23

    It's telling me that I missed another correct translation which is "she is a double agent". But wouldn't that be "es UNA doble agente"?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/pepe0001

    'Un doble' suggests that masculinity, If 'una doble' were used then it would be 'she'.


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

    isn't the "un" for the masculine word agente regardless of who the subject is? DL accepted "it is a double agent" which was my answer. now it is showing "she is a double agent" at the top of this box. so I imagine, it, he, or she would all be acceptable without context.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/pinguino.diablo

    Spanish dictionary tells me agente is a masculine or feminine word, so I guess in this case the article would be changed according to gender.


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

    It's more complicated then that. A female agent can be una agente OR un agente. That is, the profession "agente" which has traditionally been assumed to be male can be filled by a woman but she is still "un agente". It is like the difference between a female actor or a female actress.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/amble2lingo

    This may have been true in the past, but "the times they are a'changing." Every current dictionary that I checked listed "agente" as a masculine or feminine noun, differentiated by the article, el/un or la/una.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mgum47

    Why not "Es doble agente"? I thought un/una could be left out for professions.


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

    Why was "they're a double agent" not accepted? It is singular and gender neutral.


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

    this specifies she is a double agent. what indicates female?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Stephen581800

    Why isn't it agente doble?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/rocko2012

    Limiting adjectives usually come before the nouns they modify. They are often like quantities or numbers. Descriptive adjectives are the ones that often come after the noun.


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

    The only word confirming that the agent is male is 'un', right?


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

    I had to pick my translation and "he" wasnt even an option. I guess just a mistake then


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

    Zita, We do not see "él" or "ella"; when I see "es", I translate (to English) --- it :) ---Keneĉjo


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Nige711938

    "Es un" = "is a" "Ella es un" "she is a"


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

    Nige, "Ella --- (es) --- una .... ---Keneĉjo Ricardo


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

    Es could be used for Ud., El or ella ...why is only ella the only correct answer?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Arsha123

    Mission Impossible?


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

    "the condor flies low over the cordillera tonight"


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

    This was done simply to show the neutrality of Es.


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

    Why isn't it agente doble instead?


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

    Limiting adjectives, for example numbers, are an exception--they are ordered before the noun. This link has a thorough explanation.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/George_Gibson_77

    I just checked the dictionary. In English, double agent is a compound noun (not a noun and an adjective). The official Spanish dictionary (RAE) also shows it as a noun but it is "agente doble." I would say that either way is OK.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kgirl92

    I tried scrolling through all the comments and i dont think i saw a difinitive answer. Why "El" instead of "Él"?


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

    el=the ['masculine'] / él=he


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mithra234052

    Why does Duolingo use "she" when agente is masculine and has "un" before it????


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Usagiboy7

    Hi, if you scroll down to number 3 On this linked website, it talks about nouns whose gender is fixed, regardless of the gender of the person it is referring to. :)


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

    mithra, Simply referring to the message above -- of Usagiboy : Having 'googled' and downloaded / spanishdict / to my 'favorites' ... has been, I think, a helpful choice! ---Keneĉjo ... P.S. ¡Buena suerte!


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

    Doesn't "es" mean it is or is it . and if so this sentence says IT Is a Double Agent. Shouldn't it read El o Ella is a Double agent? Omg Dl stays confusing me on these meanings.will someone answer. I never get a response to my questions. Somebody? Anybody?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MattPotter4

    Part of your confusion seems to be with how English changes 'it is' etc in statement versus interrogative questions eg 'He is fat.' and 'Is he fat?' Spanish (and most other languages) do not do this the same way English does. If it is a question that you are translating to English then YOU need to do this in your head--eventually, when Spanish becomes 'natural' you wont bother. After all 'he is' and 'is he' refer to exactly the same thing , just with a different use. Next, 'Es' can mean (she) is, (he) is, (it) is as well as (you) are if 'you' is singular and from the formal register. The reason I have put the pronoun in brackets is this, if the sentence is "es doctora.", then 'es' obviously means 'she is'. If it says "ella es doctora?" (with no change from the statement to question: ella es doctora!) then 'es' just means 'is' as far as English allows us.

    We need context to fill in 'he, she, it or you'.


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

    Rose, Yes, I agree with you :) ... Es = Is ; It does seem like "Él o Ella" should start the sentence. OK, now let's be imaginative: There are a bunch of spies. Another one enters the scene ... and then, suddenly, comes the realization that the one who just entered causes the others to realize the truth: It is a double agent ( ! )


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Usagiboy7

    Just adding to KenecxjoGoldberg's comment.

    In Spanish, Es = a gender neutral way of saying it/she/he is. So, "es" can be helpful if you don't know the gender of a subject or if the subject is agender (like me ^_^)

    However, you can also still say "Ella es" and "Él es".

    In English, "it" is a non-human object pronoun. So, often it is not used to refer to people. There are some exceptions. Babies are often referred to in English as "it". For example, a common question is "Is it a boy or a girl." Or in the case where the cause of origin is unknown at first. For example: "We are experiencing massive data leaks. What is happening?" "It is a double agent" aka "It is [caused by] a double agent."

    That's why when learning another language, it is more important to understand the spirit of what is being said, rather than drawing from an exact word for word translation. One language is not simply replaced by another. They follow different rules because of their evolution and the contact they've had with other languages over time.

    If you are trying to "memorize" Spanish, you will be very frustrated because there will be exceptions to many rules. But, if you become familiar with Spanish (which is different), things will start to "feel" right or wrong. As a native English speaker, I do this all of the time. I'll know something is correct even if I don't know the rule for why. Familiarity comes with time and contact with the language. So, when studying, if you can say everything out loud, listen to Spanish, read it, write it, sing it, etc. However you can engages your sense with Spanish, do so. You'll start to develop that gut feeling. :)


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

    The clue list for me only offered 'she' as the subject. Capitalized, I knew that's the answer they wanted but clearly wrong


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Usagiboy7

    jgardner, the clue list doesn't offer all possibilities. "She is a double agent" is correct. So is "He is a double agent", and "They are a double agent." (Singular They.)


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

    why is "es" He is?


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

    linsumcd, "es" can be for : He / She / It is ...


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Lity7557

    it is a double agent.


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

    Azren, ¡Sí y verdad! ---Keneĉjo Ricardo


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/A-man-chooses

    ¿Por Inglaterra, Señor James?


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

    Is the "doble" one of those adjectives that comes before a noun? Or is this a mistake? Should it be: Es un agente doble? Or it can be both?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Usagiboy7

    At least in English, "double agent" altogether is a noun. So, I looked it up and it is the same for Spanish. :)


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/aaron-mendonca

    I'm curious to know whether this is an acceptable way to express the desired message in spanish :) If I wanted to say this when not talking about actual agents, would it be too literal a translation?


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

    What even is a double agent?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/amble2lingo

    In the U.S., a double agent is someone who is working for two competing entities, usually a spy who is working for two hostile countries.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JackSpring6

    How the hell is "she" implied?


    [deactivated user]

      January 2017. The audio says "Es un doble agente" which clearly means "IT is a double agent" but the correction says "She is a double agent" Dear Duolingo, what happened to the word "Ella"? Has it been banned in spanish?


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

      (Él\ella\usted) es un doble agente means He\she\it\you(formal) is a double agent


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

      "Ella es un doble agente" NO "Es un doble agente"


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Usagiboy7

      Micuesmo, if we already know "she" is the subject of the sentence, "ella" can be dropped from the sentence.


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/George_Gibson_77

      You cannot use un with ella. It would have to be (ella) es una doble agente.


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/olivercreed13

      That sneaky soviet spy!


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Dumbledore1237

      If you know he is a double agent, then he is failing his job.


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kloos366

      palabras? WORDS?


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

      kloos, ¡Verdad! ... palabras = words


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/derek821493

      I can honestly say, I'm never going to need to know this phrase


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Usagiboy7

      No, but, at some point you might need to know es, un, doble, and agente. :) Funny, odd, and unexpected sentences often help people retain information and also have a bit more fun which can keep them learning longer. After a certain point of learning, people can mine these silly, spooky, and absurd sentences for grammar, vocabulary, etc. Duolingo is definitely not intended to be a phrase book. :)


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/George_Gibson_77

      Well said. I just gave you a Lingot.


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Grant12223

      Why "doble agente" and not "agente doble"?


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/George_Gibson_77

      If I am not mistaken, double agent is a compound noun similar to hot dog, middle class, and attorney general. Double, as used here, is not an adjective that modifies agent.


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

      Sorry, gibberish. I'm working from the app on my phone and don't have the edit button (plus, I'm a crap typist on a keyboard this size [portrait, too, I can't get landscape for Duo], so pressed send unintentionally - premature etextulation, as I call it.) Anyway, looking at the huge number of comments this has generated, I reckon the sentence was set by an 'agent provocateur'.


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

      Just wondering why, since it is talking about him, doesn't it say, El es un doble agente?


      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/George_Gibson_77

      "El" is redundant because the article, "un," is masculine.

      Learn Spanish in just 5 minutes a day. For free.