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  5. "Mettevo i piatti sul tavolo."

"Mettevo i piatti sul tavolo."

Translation:I was putting the plates on the table.

September 23, 2013



This whole unit is maddeningly inconsistent in allowable translations of the imperfect into English:

I would put the plates on the table, I used to put the plates on the table, I was putting the plates on the table, I put the plates on the table…

All of these variants work and should be accepted. But the owl is particularly inscrutable here -- it wants what it wants. And I used to think that he was my friend...


It's easier if you think about it this way:

Present perfect is used to talk about an event that happened (started and was finished) in the past.

Imperfect is used to talk about some event that was ongoing or recurring in the past.


Another very interesting way of seeing it is "creating a context or a time room" where other actions take place. A "surrounding action".


that has just confused me more ! at least it doesn't have the grammar jargon that i really struggle with (thank you) but what is a time room? how do I use this?


I don't think "would" would fit here. It fits in cases with "always", "ever", "never" and similars.

But the others are fine.


I dunno how they accept "I'd" but not "i had". The former is the contraction of the latter!

Maddening indeed. More people need to report!


Sebastian: "I had" is the past perfect tense and wouldn't be appropriate here where the imperfect or simple past is given. As for DL accepting "I'd" I suspect that DL took it as a contraction of "I would" which IS an acceptable way to translate the imperfect.


Absolutely. The owl may know italian, but his english is not all that good.


Still happening two years later.


Rich...It'd be helpful if you explained just what's still happening. With so many comments it's really impossible for anyone to offer suggestions or explanations to you if they don't know what your're commenting on. Just a suggestion.


I typed "I used to put the plates on the table" and DL says it is wrong. I don't think it is!


It's accepted now.


Why is it wrong to say "I had put the plates on the table"? I thought that was how this form of past tense was translated.


This sentence uses the imperfect, which means "I was putting" or "I used to put", i.e., continuous action in the past. "I had put" would be "avevo messo," the pluperfect or past perfect.


Well, than it should accepted my answer. I wrote: "I used to put the plates on the table." but it was marked as wrong. Why?


I put the same and can't understand why its wrong.


The pronunciation of mettevo is off. The stress should be on the 2nd syllable "met--vo" but the audio puts it on first ("Mét-te-vo", listen here:


Can one say "nel tavolo" instead of "sul tavolo"?


thehardwar: I don't think "in the table" makes as much sense as "on the table". "Nel" = "in the".


But in Italian you put things in the plate ("nel piatto") and not on the plate ("sul piatto"), hence my question. Languages do not care much about making sense, just my experience when learning one.


Languages are just patterns of expression, emerging out of things that make sense. Different languages produce different patterns and therefore different ways of making sense, though from the perspective of one language, another language's sense may seem less sensible.

Your question is perfectly reasonable and deserves an answer beyond a single opinion. If you search Google nGrams (https://books.google.com/ngrams) you'll see "nel tavolo" is almost never used in comparison to "sul tavolo."

Meanwhile, comparing "nel piatto" with "sul piatto" shows relatively equal usage.


Pretty nice tool, thanks a lot. Concerning my previous comment, I should have expressed myself a bit more neutral. What I meant was that to every rule there is at least one exception. It is a good rule of thumb and empirically I can confirm that, which, of course, is a rather small sample.


Another way to look at it is this: there are no rules, only patterns, or habits. This applies to everything, not just language.


thehardway: That's a good point, but I think w/ table it's 'on'.


why not say io metto i piatti ...You say the translation can be i put the plates on the table


From "put" to Italian, you can translate it anyway, since you don't know if "put" is past or present.

But from Italian to English, the tense is very clear, and you know that "put" is past, not present.


Outside of this program you certainly could for the reasons ElHeim gave. But within this program, this is testing the past tense, not the present.


Duolingo is supposed to accept both answers, always showing the best answer matching the tense that is being taught.

If they don't accept one of them, we can surely report our suggestion.


Yeah, but that's just because all the forms of "to put" are the same, so you cannot distinguish. This lesson is about the PAST, though, so it doesn't make much sense to translate it into the present...


I also was wondering, is that the correct pronunciation of "tavolo"? It sounded weird.


I reported it. The stress is always on the wrong syllable. Of course, I reported it in January 2014, but . . .


"I put the plates on the table" was accepted.


I feel like this is a bad sentence to use. As it is, I don't see anything that necessitates the past imperfect. 'ho metto' would work just as well with this particular phrase. It's not a confusing sentence, but if people are trying to work out when to use p.p. and when to use the imperfetto, this does not help.


CTrinity: If you think of it more as "I used to put the dishes on the table" as e.g., when I was a kid and this was a chore I did habitually, then the imperfect makes perfect sense.


Yeah, I understand. But these exercise seem to be teaching how to use imperfetto, without teaching us when to use imperfetto. So I find it adding to my confusion because the context that would normally tell me to use imperfetto is missing. What I already knew about when to use imperfetto and p.p. is getting confused because so many of the examples are missing that rest of the phrase that would signal the use of imperfetto.


Or, "I was putting the plates on the table..." when they arrived.

  • 1106

I had put the plates on the table marked wrong. DL wanted 'I'd put the plates on the table'. Seems to me they're both saying the same thing


EdithFaber: It's not "I had put" since it's the imperfect tense and I had put is past perfect. As written 'mettevo' would be "I put, I used to put, or I would put (or as DL accepts "I'd) -- as in: when I was a child, I would (I'd) always put the plates on the table." It doesn't mean 'I had put' at all.


I had put the plates on the table was marked wrong. I'd is a contraction of i had


Yes, that's true but "I had" or "I'd" is the past perfect tense, not the imperfect and it has a different meaning. They're not interchangeable in either language. The past perfect in Italian would be "Avevo messo..." --that's why you were marked wrong.


"I'd" can mean "I had" but in this case it means "I would" (not conditional, but rather an idiomatic expression meaning a past recurring incident).


That's true and a translation of "I'd" I hadn't thought of as I was focused on responding to MichaelUys1. You're correct. Your reading of it would be more obvious if the context were expanded as in "I'd always put the plates on the table when I was a child because that was my job."


That is a valid translation. Another is "I (always) used to..."


A lingot for pointing that out.


Question for native Italian speakers here: my mother is italian, she comes from the Friuli region and she has always said "la tavola".

And in Italian courses it's always "il tavolo"

Can someone tell me what's right?


Not native, 1st generation in America, but I think the difference is that 'la tavola' is used to refer to the dinner table in expressions like "A tavola!" = Come to dinner, dinner's ready, etc. "Il tavolo" is the table itself as for example in a restaurant. So if one were asking if a table were free, one would use "tavolo": Avete un tavolo per due?


Grazzie mile. Ho datto questo probelma alla mia mama e lei è d'accordo con Lei ^^


Wow! I thought that was the case, but as a non-native, I wasn't positive. Ciao e un buon capodanno!


il tavolo is the physical object, la tavola is figurative, like cuisine


Apparently "I'd" is accepted but not "I had..." ??


Johannes7: Yes, and there's a very good reason why: "I'd" can be interpreted as a past tense - "I would" as in a habitual action in the past: "When I was a child I'd always put (I would always put) the plates on the table for my mother. That's a correct interpretation of the imperfect. "I had" is not. It's past perfect, which is why it's incorrect, and "I'd" is accepted.


ho capito, grazie


Prego. You can also think of it like this: "I'd" = BOTH "I would" and "I had" , so e.g. "I would eat fish every friday when I was a child AND "I had eaten fish every friday before I moved to America." The first is the equivalent of the imperfect, the second is the past perfect.


If you'd read the other comments, you'd have seen why.

See what I did there?


Wouldn't this English sentence be better in Italian as "Stavo mettendo i piatti sul tavolo"?


You are using the past continous in all these exercices, instead of using the past tense. It sounds strange.


please explain the difference between my use of "I did" and the required answer of " I'd" I am sure they are exactly equal !!


If you'd scroll up, you'd find your answer.

Also, "I'd" is never a contraction of "I did" but rather "I would" or "I had."


Ugo...No, they're not equal at all. "I'd" is the contraction of "I would" not "I did". So in this case the verb being in the imperfect, the choice is "I was putting" or "I would/I'd put" for a habitual action in the past. Example" When I was a boy, I would/I'd always put the plates on the table for my mother." "I did put the plates on the table" implies a one time past action best translated by the present perfect tense.


The correct answer was given as "I'd put.....". In English this is short for "I had put....". My answer of " I had put the plates on the table" was marked not correct. Surely that was a correct answer?


Frrances...The answer that I see at the top of this page is: "I was putting..." not "I had put" -- which is the past perfect tense = Avevo messo...That said, "I'd put" can also be an abbreviated form of "I would put" which is the idea behind the imperfect tense, i.e., "I would put the plates on the table when I was a child". That is probably why you were given it as a correct answer. So to sum up, "I'd" here does not stand for "I had" but "I would" referring to an habitual action in the past.


I wrote "I placed the plates on the table", which DL marked as incorrect, and suggested "I place the plates on the table" as the solution.

I fail to see how that can be a correct answer, given that "place" is written in present tense?


Pete, You're correct, DL's wrong if that's what they said. The answer I see above reads: I was putting... -- which is correct. I suspect the answer you were given was a typo on DL's part. Another option would be: I used to put, since the tense is used for habitual past actions.


It occurs to me that the present and imperfect of put are the same so you can't necessarily tell what is intended without context. If the verb used had been ' to place' is would have been obvious - I place .. or I placed ...


"I was setting the table" wasn't accepted.


I was putting plates on the table was rejected. I kept forgetting the 'i' but I thought it could translate to a sentence with or without it.


what's wrong with "I placed the plates on the table"? It was marked as wrong and the suggested translation was "I place the plates on the table" (present tense)


"I was putting" implies a second part to the sentence - "I was putting the plates on the table, when all of a sudden someone rushed into the room". "I used to . .. . ." seems preferable in the Duo sentence.


I would say in this sense put is kind of tricky because it already is kind of in a past tense just by itself.


Sombody somewhere has got to stop saying all the italian words with an a at the end regardless if they have them. Sul/Sulla in this case. It sounds like a bad imitation of italians.


So 'I have put the plates on the table' is wrong? In which case we must be talking about what happened during the process of me putting the plates on the table. How would I say then, that i had previously put the plates on the table?


Even though the sentence "I was putting the plates on the table." is a complete sentence, it doesn't convey a complete thought. The sentence needs the addition of "when this/something happened"...... Or the sentence proceeding it should be: "What were you doing when this/something happened?" I was putting the plates on the table! Without any context the sentence is a waste of learning time.

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